Imagine if... Cruise promoted his film on 'Jassi'

At the IIFA awards there were some puzzles that even the pacy dancing and super-pacy editing of the footage couldn‘t solve.

For instance, why was Shah Rukh Khan complaining on-stage about Saif Ali Khan not keeping in touch, and why were the emcees on the red carpet Purab Kohli and Neha Dubey (competent and understated) focusing so much on the clothes that the stars wore? Agreed this is the model derived from the Cannes film festival. But our stars looked distinctly ill-at-ease answering questions about their clothes, accessories, etc.

The funniest encounter was with director Ken Ghosh. When Neha asked about his tie he retorted, "Aw, you don‘t like it?"

Tie me up.

Judge for yourself the quality of the live performances. We had to wade until dark to get to the show‘s highest-light, namely the two Bachchans with Aishwarya Rai.
As Abhishek rocked all his leading ladies in the audience out-did themselves in winning brownie points. Rani Mukherjee had an edge. She whistled, clapped and finally got to her feet to give her favourite co-star a standing ovation. Rekha looked like she would rush to stage and shake a leg if only her sari and jewellery weren‘t too heavy for physical activity.

Thank God she wasn‘t quizzed about her attire on the red carpet. It would‘ve taken the whole evening.

If exuberance is a measure of passion and affection then Rani deserved one more award that evening for the most enthusiastic spectator of the evening. Runner-up would be Boman Irani who whistled and swayed to Abhishek‘s dance steps. Boman‘s dimunitive wife looked visibly ill-at-ease watching her husband doing the whooping act.

I was surprised to catch Ram Gopal Varma in earnest conversation with Ashutosh Gowariker and Ronnie Screwvala on BBC‘s Business Bites… surprised because Varma isn‘t really a television person. Though he comes alive in print, on the visual medium one can see his bashful repudiation of the media glare.


Varma was sadly subdued. On the other hand Ashutosh Gowariker simply came alive, talking nineteen-to-the-dozen about the various reasons why our cinema doesn‘t get international recognition. He spoke about how he would like to see, ahem ahem, Satya screened in various parts of the world.

Ramu disagreed. He thought our cinema wasn‘t good enough, give or take an, ahem ahem, Lagaan.

He didn‘t think much of the food either. He kept picking on it with his eyes intently glued to the table, like a schoolboy at boarding school being forced to polish off his porridge.

Later Ramu admitted to me that sitting and eating while discussing serious issues on cinema wasn‘t the best way to spend an evening.

He was uncomfortable. So were we, watching Priyanka Chopra and Arjun Rampal plugging their new film on Koffee With Karan… a re-run, it made mention of Yakeen as a film to be released in March.

Much better marketing positioning for Yakeen was obtainable on Yeh Meri Life Hai where Priyanka showed up as a judge at a beauty contest and handed over her film‘s brochures (caught in conspicuous close-ups) with some dialogues about "Zindagi mein yakeen…" blah blah!

A lot of stars are whipping up a soapy lather to promote their films. We saw Mallika Sherawat on Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai, Urmila Matondkar on Aahat and now Priyanka on Yeh Meri Life Hai.

One of these says I suspect Tom Cruise will turn up on Jassi to promote his latest film. I guess everyone is aware of the growing importance of the visual medium, and none more so than the talented youngsters who bare their hearts on the various talent-scouting contests.

But could we please have less melodrama on these cute chronicles of callow aspirations? On the newly-started Fame Gurukul I saw a rejected candidate weeping hysterically to the tune of Lata Mangeshkar‘s Rulake gaya sapna mera. And when a girl was about to leave for Gurukul her sister and mother wept like the contestant was leaving for her Sasural.

I wept too… When I saw Sony‘s The Kumars At House No. 42. The guests were Ismail Merchant and Helen Bonham-Carter. With Ismail gone so recently it felt odd and sad to see him on air talking about his cinema. His leading lady cribbed good naturedly about how Ismail didn‘t pay them well. Well… if it‘s any consolation, no one gets paid well in India either.

A low-budget shoe-string presentation with a conscience Pehchaan was Sahara‘s Friday premiere. I remember Raveena Tandon who produced the film for Sahara was very excited about it because it was based on an actual newspaper headline.

A politician‘s daughter-in-law commits suicide. What happened?

Director Shrabani Deodhar pieced together the whole scenario leading to the girl‘s death through the character of the dead girl‘s friend Mridula (Raveena Tandon) who very conveniently, happens to be a lawyer married, every inconveniently, to a man whose father (Vinod Khanna) is the defence lawyer for the accused.

Bahu versus Sasurji in courtroom… decent premise. But the presentation lacked the hard-hitting quality required to make it swing into action. The politicians‘ brigade came across as specially tacky. As for the righteous team of crusaders led by Raveena… the good guys kept going into college and dancefloor flashbacks which took away the edge from the crusader‘s tale.

Nevertheless I‘d rate Pehchaan much higher than the average fare on television, and certainly more spunky than last week‘s Friday Premiere. The women were allowed to step out into the forefront. Apart from Raveena (sassy and spirited) there was Juhi Parmar as her pal who‘s killed in her influential Sasural, and Rati Agnihotri as Raveena‘s supportive mom-in-law.

The presentation could have done with better production values. But then, you can‘t have a TV premier for a film with the budget of a Parineeta or Sarkar.


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