Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ash snubbed!

Aishwarya Rai Bhachchan is eagerly anticipating the release of her next movie, the much-awaited Jodha Akbar opposite her Dhoom 2 pair Hrithik Roshan. This epic film, directed by Ahutosh Gowariker and touted to be the most expensive Indian film ever made in the recent times, is in the final stages of postproduction.

The latest news on this film is that its length, in all probability, will be around three and a half hours. Considering the fact that Ashutosh’s earlier movies Lagan and Swades were about as lengthy, if not lengthier, this is not something new. It was very recently reported that the director had chopped off a Qawali number that was lavishly picturised on Aishwarya as it was hampering the pace of the movie. Ash was so much in love with the song and the visuals that she had asked the director’s permission to use it in her next movie. But sources now have it that her request was turned down by Ashutosh as he had only half-heartedly edited it out of the movie. However, he intends releasing it in the DVD of the movie. Actresses at times have to take these in their stride as films are ultimately a director’s medium and their word is final.

Is Ashutosh preparing himself for the Oscars?

Ashutosh Gowariker, one of the most renowned directors in Bollywood, has put a sincere effort to make Jodha Akbar a huge success. Ashutosh is trying his best to mix all spices in a balanced proportion so as to make an impact on the audience.

ASHUTOSH GOWARIKER, well known for his versatility, is all set to release his much-awaited movie, Jodha Akbar on February 15, which incidentally is his birthday.
After Lagaan and Swades, the actor’s director, who has brought awards and applauds for all his male stars, aims to make a directorial milestone with Jodha Akbar, flaunting the marriage of two different cultures and religions and highlighting efforts of Akbar to strengthen his relations with the Rajputs.

Every element big or small, from the texture of the clothes to the sets, d├ęcor, dialogues and the protocol, even the incidental sounds of birds and animals, have been set to perfection, create a virtual impact of the Mughal era. The Dhoom 2 pair of Hrithik and Aishwarya looks gorgeous in royal outfits.

Jodha Akbar may be one of the potential movies for the Oscars. It seems that Ashutosh has been carefully observing the trend of the movies going for the Oscars. While films like Lagaan and Paheli had the cultural touch of India, Rang De Basanti had the spirit of nationalism instilled in it. The movie’s storyline in the trailers depicts both these elements in plenty.

But Ashutosh, who has been acclaimed for his originality, has inspired himself from movies like ‘Troy’ and ‘Lord Of The Rings’, which have been nominated for the Oscars before. The purdah scene between Hrithik and Aishwarya also seem to have been inspired from a short film ‘Migration’, featuring Sameera Reddy and Shiney Ahuja, where Shiney approaches Sameera but she drops a curtain between them.

A scene showcasing Aishwarya lifting her ghunghat looks similar to a scene in Paheli, where Rani flaunts the same look. Even the colour of the outfit is the same. Aishwarya’s red coloured outfit has sharp resemblance to the clothes worn by Rani in the movie.

The movie release, which was scheduled for January 25, has been delayed due to the fact that he has been advised bed rest for 21 days due a severe back problem, which has delayed the finishing of the background score of the movie.

All in all, Ashutosh is trying his best to mix all spices in a balanced proportion so as to make an impact on the audience. But the originality of the storyline, magnetic delivery of dialogues and songs will have to face the litmus test of the choosy spectators and the choosier selection committee for Oscars. His lead actor of Lagaan, Aamir Khan may be his potential competitor for Oscars, as he is really doing well as the director and producer of Taare Zameen Per.


Friday, December 28, 2007

'Jodha Akbar' in Tamil, Telugu

While on UTV, their next venture JODHA AKBAR, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, will be dubbed in Tamil and Telugu languages. That’s not all, UTV has plans of releasing the two versions extensively in these two markets.

UTV’s current plans are to release the magnum opus in 1,000 + screens in the domestic market in the three languages [Hindi, Tamil, Telugu]. “Don’t be surprised if the number of screens touch 1,200,” Suniel Wadhwa, Associate Vice President - India Distribution, UTV informs me. The breakdown [as on this date] is as follows:- Hindi version 750, Telugu version 150 and Tamil version 100 screens. Incidentally, Hrithik Roshan’s previous movies, DHOOM 2 and KRRISH, were also dubbed in Telugu and Tamil languages.

The Telugu trailers of JODHA AKBAR were unleashed during Dassera week [18th October] with ATHIDHI, with 248 trailers [352 screens] across Andhra Pradesh, while the Tamil trailers were released during the Diwali week [9th November] with AZHAGIYA TAMIL MAGAN and VEL.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ashutosh ousts Rahman!

Ashutosh Gowariker, one of Bollywood’s hottest directors, shot to fame with his Oscar-nominated Lagaan in 2001. A.R. Rahman’s music contributed largely to the success of the film and both Ashutosh and A.R. Rahman have been working together ever since.

Their next project, Swades, though well received by critics did not find acceptance among the masses. But one aspect of the film that was appreciated by one and all was it’s music, with Rahman’s ‘Yeh Jo Des…’ going on to become one of his best compositions till date.

Ashutosh’s latest venture, Jodhaa Akbar, featuring Hrithik Roshan as the Mughal emperor Akbar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as his love interest Jodha, a Rajput princess, also has Rahman composing the music. This period film is now in its final stages of post-production and Ashutosh who is busy editing it has done the unexpected by axing two songs composed by Rahman, one of which is a Qawwali that was shot in a lavish set erected for the purpose. The director, however, justified it as the song hampered the flow of the film. Further, he explained that Rahman was a mature composer and would understand the reason behind it. We had also earlier reported Aishwarya liking the Qawwali so much that she has asked the director and Rahman for the footage and composition so she could use it in another film of hers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mission Ustaad Salutes Women

Mission Ustaad Salutes and spreads the message of Women Empowerment. A power-packed performance by 8 singing sensations who lend their voice for ‘Women Empowerment’

What’s common with the stars of Mission Ustaad – Mahalaxmi Iyer, Sunali Rathod, Shweta Pandit and Vasundhara Das? Well, they all have a reason to smile and give their best in this week’s episode of Mission Ustaad. Kailash Kher, Roop Kumar Rathod, Naresh Iyer and Mohit Chauhan also join their respective team members to lend their voices to some of the most popular film songs. From the latest hits like ‘Chote Chote Sheheron se’ to the evergreen songs like ‘Aaj phir jeene ki tammanna hai’ and many more, the 8 versatile and talented singers enthralled the judges and audience. Catch the power-packed performance with one mission…. The Mission to salute and spread the message of WOMEN EMPOWERMENT this Friday & Saturday, December 28th & 29th, at 9 pm only on 9X.

Week on week, Mission Ustaad contestants take the responsibility of spreading awareness to make our country and the world a better place. This week too, it will continue its endeavour with yet another wonderful theme of ‘Women Empowerment’. Mission Ustaad will treat viewers with exciting performances by the singers who will enlighten viewers about women empowerment through their soul-rendering songs based on this week’s theme - ‘Nari Shaktishali toh desh Gauravshali’

The episode will kick start with a mind-blowing performance by Roop Kumar Rathod and Sunali Rathod who lend their melodious voices to ‘Aaj phir jeene ki tammanna hai’.’ Vasundhara Das & Mohit Chauhan choose ‘Mann Ke manjire’ to get the message across to the viewers. Naresh Iyer and Shweta Pandit the youngest Jodi, will further enthrall the judges and audiences with their splendid performance. Last but not the least Kailash Kher and Mahalaxmi Iyer sing ‘Mein yaar manana ni’ to spread the message of Women Empowerment.

And if you thought women empowerment is all about serious performance from these stars, all are in for a surprise. Saturday’s episode will start with an engrossing performance from the ‘Chak De’ girls on ‘Baadal per paao hai’ from the most inspirational movie of the year ‘Chak De’. Kailash Kher and Mahalaxmi Iyer will further get audience gyrating to ‘Nachle’ from Lakeer. This will be followed by Naresh’s and Shweta’s stupendous performance on ‘Oolalala’ from Sapney. The remaining two jodis - Roop - Sunali Rathod and Vasundhara Das - Mohit Chauhan will further treat the viewers with foot-tapping compositions.

Amidst all the zeal, emotion and excitement the singers also make some thought provoking statements and voice out some very strong opinions on women empowerment. Will the judges be moved by their opinion? Will Roop & Sunali’s logic to choose the song be justified to the theme? Will Vasundhara Das & Mohit Chauhan impress the judges? Will Naresh & Shweta succeed in spreading the message across the viewers? And who will be the Ustaad Jodi? All this and much more on MISSION ustaad on Friday, December 28 & Saturday, December 29, at 9 pm only on 9X.


The boss that ruled the year

When you look back at 2007 in terms of cinema, you can’t miss Sivaji – the boss of 2007. No film in the history of Tamil cinema has evoked such expectations before and after release.

A report in Financial Express (25.12.07) reveals that, according to Google, Sivaji - The Boss was the second most searched film among the top searches in India for 2007, only after Spiderman. This clearly shows the unbelievable expectations and excitement the film by the superstar has evoked.

This is probably the first time in the long history of Indian cinema that a South Indian film attracted national and international attention. The film with an unprecedented budget made into the headlines of almost all national television channels.

The dream combination did work. The reputed production house AVM, the most sought after director Shankar, the musical wizard of India A.R. Rahman, and the undisputed king of box office, superstar Rajinikanth – when you have these names in a single venture, it is ought to be a great sensational and it turned out to be exactly the same.

The Swashbuckling release of the film happened on June 15. Sivaji was released in 2 languages, Tamil as well as the dubbed version in Telugu. It opened in 2,900 theatres in 27 countries across the globe. 700 prints were released against 450 prints of Rajani’s earlier movie ‘Chandramukhi’.

Many films were withdrawn from the fray after the unprecedented opening of Sivaji - The Boss. The film even had a good run in north India. Mind you, there was no dubbing and no sub titles. Finally it went on to become a blockbuster.

In UK, the movie entered the box-office earned about £14 thousand per screen and the first South Indian movie to enter UK Top 10, a real big recognition for Tamil movies in international market. In USA, Sivaji was released in 24 theaters with 19 more added subsequently for the Tamil version and 21 theaters ran the Telugu version.

What made Sivaji so special? The above mentioned combination was ably supported by write Sujatha’s sharp dialogues and amazing stunt choreography of Peter Heinz. To add colour to the fare Shankar has roped in the likes of Prabhudeva, Raju Sundaram, Lawrence, and Brinda to make the song sequences as unique experience. Thota Tharani’s sets for the songs were breathtaking. Vivek provided sensible support by his comical sense. And you had sensual Shriya to put the screen on fire.

The way Shankar presented Sivaji is undoubtedly one of the highpoints of Sivaji. We are not mentioning about the 'fair' Rajini alone. The way he looked in the entire movie was something special. Shankar has also portrayed him as a modern day educated youth and worked out his style and dialogues accordingly. The ‘cool’ way of talking and the ease with which he handled modern gadgets added colour to the character.

As a result of all such ingredients, Sivaji triumphed like anything and emerged as a front runner in all aspects. Rajini proved his mettle even after 30 years of his entry into filmdom.

So, Rajini emerges winner of 2007 with his inimitable style.


Rahman to start New Year on a high

The long list of reasons cited for Jodhaa Akbar’s release, starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, seems to be never ending. Latest one added to the list is Ashutosh Gowariker’s health conditions. Sources say that long sessions at the post-production suites have taken its toll on the director’s health with doctors advising him to rest and refrain from traveling for a while.

And heeding to the advice, Ashutosh has postponed his visit to Chennai to be with Rahman during the composition of the background score for the film.

However, the producers, UTV, who had recently decided to start their own record label, have set January 9, 2008 as the audio release date. It has also been reported that the date of worldwide release of the movie will be on February 15, 2008. With expectations for this film growing manifold with its promos being aired across TV channels and cinemas around the world, you just have to wait for the good piece of work to take shape.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hrithik Roshan back in Mumbai amidst rumors of another 'Jodhaa Akbar' delay

Hrithik Roshan returned to Mumbai from Singapore, cutting short his treatment for a torn knee ligament, amidst rumors of another delay in the release of his film Jodhaa Akbar.

The actor had left for Singapore Thursday, December 6, for aggressive physiotherapy sessions spanning 6 weeks. His wife, Sussane, was to join him later. He was due to return early January to promote Jodhaa Akbar which is slotted for a January 25 release.

Following his return Hrithik was once again facing cameras on Saturday, December 23, to film The making of Jodhaa Akbar. It is not known if that was the imperative for his return or the schedule for the treatment of his knee was revised.

Hrithik's early return means he will get to attend the launch of the film's music.

Usually the music of a film is launched 2-3 months ahead of the film, in order to establish its market presence. However, no date has yet been announced for the release of Jodhaa Akbar's music, which has been scored by AR Rehman. Some reports suggest that the background score has yet to be fully recorded.

The delay has fueled rumors that the film's release date is likely to be pushed back once again.

The film was originally slotted to hit the marquee on October 23 but its release date was pushed back to January 25 to absorb a schedule overrun during filming.

Post production for the film is now also taking longer than envisaged. One of the problems being faced is the length of the film. It is being reported that a lot of footage, shot at considerable costs, will have to be discarded in order to keep the film under 3 hours, something that is proving to be a challenge for director Ashutosh Gowariker who has put his heart into the project.

To make matters worst, Gowariker is down with a bad back.

A source from Ashutosh Gowarikar Productions Pvt Ltd (AGPPL) told Mumbai Mirror, "Ashutosh has been unwell for a while and advised complete bed rest. We are yet to do the color correction of the film."

UTV, which is footing most of the production costs for the film, remains tight lipped about reports of another delay.

"I cannot comment on anything right now. Please wait for the official announcement," Siddharth Roy Kapoor, COO, told Mumbai Mirror.

Some sources suggest that the film's release may be pushed as far back as March.


Monday, December 24, 2007

“Tresses don’t make a Rahman”

Isai Kaatru was the name of the album composed by Mohammed Rizwan and produced by Amish Kumar. The music album has lyrics by Vairamuthu and Pon.Murugesan who released the album with much fanfare at a gala event yesterday. While addressing the gathering at the function Vairamuthu was all praise for the composer for coming up with some melodious numbers that have maintained the purity of the lyrics.

He later made a request to filmmakers, which he corrected with a note of caution that music launches should hitherto be called Songs launch which alone would be appropriate as it is only songs that are being launched at audio release functions and the lyricists would only then feel duly honored alongside the composers. He even had a word of advice for upcoming music composers who sport long tresses that it is not tresses that make a person a great composer like Rahman but one’s compositions. He was all praise for the lyrics of Pon.Murugesan who had penned the other songs in the album and said that such music albums are going to be the future of Tamil music as they tend to retain the quality of the lyrics and they do not have to bank on visuals, as in he case of movies, to give it the necessary appeal.


Jodhaa Akbar release postponed to Feb

The release of UTV Motion Pictures and Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance Jodhaa Akbar starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been postponed to 15 February 2008. The soundtrack composed by A.R Rahman will release on 9 January through UTV's new record label UTV Music.

The movie was earlier slated to release on 28 January, 2008. The change of release date is due to the fact that Gowariker has been advised bed rest for 21 days with a severe back problem.

The director was scheduled to be in Chennai for this entire week to finish the background score of Jodhaa Akbar but could not move out because of strict instructions from his doctors not to travel.

Gowariker stated, "I am sad that this had to happen in the thick of post production; it is unfortunate, but it has to be dealt with."

Jodhaa Akbar is a sixteenth century story about a marriage of alliance that brought two diverse souls together to find true love between the greatest Mughal emperor that ruled Hindustan, Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, and the fiery young Rajput princess, Jodhaa.

The film is produced by UTV Motion Pictures and Ashutosh Gowariker Productions.


Friday, December 21, 2007

All actors in 'Jodha Akbar' have done well: Aishwarya Rai

Former Miss World and Bollywoodactor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on Thursday said all the actors in the movie 'Jodha Akbar' have done the film with 'full passion' and hoped that the movie would be a hit with the masses.

The actor, who was here to launch the Nakshatra New Winter Wedding Collection of diamond jewellery here, told reporters after the launch that movies like Jodha Akbar, were very "tricky" with regard to audiences accepting it.

Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan are playing the leadroles in the movie.

Responding to a query that films like 'Asoka' have not gone onto become hits in recent times, she said "At certain times certain films do well...certain films do not do that well. It's a very tricky thing."

The daughter-in-law of Amitabh Bachchan, said working for the Hollywood movie 'Pink Panther' was a 'fantastic experience'. "There were so many was really anamazing experience," the actress said.

Aishwarya, who is married to Abhishek Bachchan, said "I am enjoying my current phase in life. Being's an incredible thing in life."

Asked about one memorable moment during the shooting of the song 'Tere Bina' in Maniratnam's 'Guru' here, she said the whole song was shot at night. "We shot the song all night. Mani wanted to shoot songs at day break and he wanted the song to be taken in one-take," she said.

She also said she would love to do more Tamil films. "There's a lot of talent here that I would love to work with. But the possibility of accepting projects is time defined."


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Will Jodha Akbar get postponed again?

The much delayed, and potentially controversial Hindu-Muslim saga, Jodha Akbar, has already been shifted from October 2007 to Republic Day, 2008 weekend. However talks are rife that the film is having difficulty reaching the theaters even then.

Typically music for big films is composed well in advance of shooting and audio released 2-3 months in advance of theatrical release. However in the case of this Hrithik Roshan-Aishwarya Bachchan starrer, that has not happened when the release date is scheduled only less than 5 weeks away.

Infact the film's original music promoter, the BIG label, has now backed out of the film, stating that the producers were not giving enough time for them to promote the music properly. UTV, the film's producer, is now left having the promote the film on it's own.

As such, speculations are high that Jodha Akbar is not coming on January 25th as scheduled. And may even get postponed further down to February or March.



Rahman to sing to Kailash Kher's tunes

Singer Kailash Kher, who is known as the blue-eyed boy of music director AR Rahman, is all set to rope him in for a project. Kher wants Rahman to perform the title track of the film Allah Ke Bande, which he has composed.

This will be the first time that Rahman will lend his voice to tunes composed by someone else. The film also marks the debut of the trio Kailash-Paresh-Naresh of the band Kailasa as composers.

“He has already heard the tune and the lyrics of the song and was impressed with it when we went to meet him last month. He asked us to complete the song. We will go to Chennai next week,” says an excited Kher.

Is Rahman going to sing the song finally?

“I hope so, because I share a special bonding with him. After hearing the tune he said Insha Allah and I know what these words mean when it comes from someone of the stature of Rahmansaab. I am like his brother and he has never turned me down,” says Kher.

The song has been written and composed by Kher and will be picturised on the band and Rahman, along with 1,000 children. “Rahmansaab has given me an informal assurance, as we share a relationship that is different from the one he has with others,” he says. The film directed by Faruque Kabir deals with juvenile crime and has Atul Kulkarni as the male lead.

After hearing the tune he said Insha Allah and I know what these words mean when it comes from someone of the stature of Rahmansaab-Kailash Kher
Kher who has sung for Rahman in films such as Swades, Mangal Pandey-The Rising and Kisna and is also a regular member of Rahman’s group, sees his dreams coming full circle.

“That’s why I have kept the title track for him. It’s a positive song, almost like a prayer to God but has the folk-rock flavour for which Kailasa is known,” he says.

However, this is not the only film that the composer trio has in its kitty. It is also scoring the music for Nikhil Advani’s Made In China, which has Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone in the lead. “It’s an inspirational song,” says Kher.

The trio will also start recording for Mahesh Bhatt’s assistant Hirdesh Kamble’s directorial debut, Pranali, which is based on devdasis. The choreography will be done by Birju Maharaj. “It’s an offbeat subject,” he says.

As of now, after the success of their last private album Kailasa Jhoomo Re, the band plans to focus on films. Kher will be heard singing in movies such as Crazy 4, Sarkar Raj, Mittal vs Mittal and a couple of untitled projects that will release next year.


‘Music is expression, not competition’

Musician Sukhwinder Singh discusses composing for ‘Halla Bol’, his next project with AR Rahman and the indecency in reality shows with Shridevi Keshavan

He was brushed off by most music directors in Bollywood when Sukhwinder Singh approached them with the composition ‘Chaiyya chaiyya’, a Punjabi poem by Sufi poet Bulle Shah. He finally arrived at composer AR Rahman’s doorstep and it was the beginning of a bright future for the singer/ composer. Sukhwinder Singh, who weaves his rustic voice with melody, recollects the struggle he went through before he was appreciated.

The singer has scored for the yet to be released film ‘Halla Bol’. “I still remember some of the top music composers telling me that the poem ‘Chaiyya chaiyya’ was boring and poking fun at me (of course with no bad intentions); but that’s what they thought. Rahman is imaginative and was thoroughly impressed. In half an hour the song was finalised with the Hindi translation written by Gulzar,” says the musician.

As for Sukhwinder’s compositions in ‘Halla Bol’, apparently director Raj Kumar Santoshi was so impressed by the music that he hugged Sukhwinder. “It was a new experience but not difficult at all. It shouldn’t be difficult for a musician to compose and write lyrics. I have also done the background score,” he says adding that he has written the lyrics for a lot of films including Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’.

After an unsuccessful attempt with his album ‘Nasha Hi Nasha Hai’, the singer is now working on an album with AR Rahman. The two are working closely on something experimental and are exploring various musical landscapes. “It’s just me and him and we will be trying out some new concepts,” says Sukhwinder who started his career with Rahman. “I used to write lyrics for him,” he adds.

Quiz him about the surge of reality shows and what he thinks of the budding talent that is entering the industry and he says, “It might be a platform but I don’t like the drama and the fights that are inserted to pump up the show. Besides, I have never believed in competitions when it comes to music; it should only apply to sports. Music is expression, not competition,” he sums up


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A.R.Rahman’s next

After finishing his second Tamil movie in a row – for the less informed, they are Sivaji and the recently released ATM – Rahman is now busy finishing off Ashutosh Gowaikar directed epic tale Jodhaa Akbar starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead. The results of Ashutosh’s previous outings with Rahman for Lagaan and Swades need no elucidation.

Produced by UTV pictures, Jodhaa Akbar’s music rights were earlier sold to BIG Music. However, quoting lack of time for the promotion of the music and blaming producers UTV for the same, BIG Music recently withdrew from their contract. Music of Jodhaa Akbar will now be promoted by UTV, who for this sole purpose is launching a music label on their own. Higher officials at UTV swear that there is no better launchpad for their music label than releasing Rahman’s music.

Rahman’s music for Jodhaa Akbar has already raised the bar among critics and music lovers alike with its trailer, which had some great music by the maestro. Sources close to Rahman say that the music is very contemporary and one of his best.


Jodhaa Akbar music on UTV's own label

Jodhaa Akbar, the much awaited film of Ashutosh Gowaikar is the talk of the town. Besides, the biggest star cast comprising Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, the music of the film boasts of its composition by A.R Rahman. Oddly enough, BIG Music, which had acquired the rights of the music, has backed out. And, now it is UTV Motion Pictures, the producer of the film, which will launch the music company of its own to secure the music rights of the film.

Confirming the news, Siddharth Roy Kapur, the COO of UTV Motion Pictures, said that UTV along with AGPPL (Ashutosh Gowaikar Productions Private Limited) came down to this conclusion that UTV music would not have gotten a better launch than the perfect combination of A.R Rahman, Javed Akhtar, Ashutosh Gowaikar, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. He also added that Jodhaa Akbar was the apt platform for UTV to launch its music company.

Also, Kulmeet Makkar, the head Honcho of Big Music, admitted about their back out from the project since UTV was not providing enough time for the promotions. UTV will now promote the music with their own label.

Nevertheless, the music director of the film, A.R Rahman, does not stop raving about the music and said the music of Jodhaa Akbar is contemporary so that it satisfies both critics and music lovers.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

AR Rahman composes music for Al-Risalah

Moustapha Akkad, the director of Hollywood film Al-Risalah, which was released mainly in the westerns Islamic countries after having a grand opening in theatres across USA, is all set to release in India now. The film will be dubbed in Hindi and Urdu; A.R. Rahman will give the music for the film and will also sing a song for it. The film is set to release on December 28, 2007.

Al-Risalah is the story of Islam from its birth, evolution and to its triumph with the best Hollywood production values full of grandeur and emotion. Oasis Enterprises owned by Yamshi Ahmed and Saad Ahmed will be releasing the dubbed Hindi version of the film. Al-Risalah is being disturbed by Anuj Saxena's Maverick Productions.

The Urdu adaptation has been done by eminent lyricist and writer Hasan Kamaal. Al Risalah releases in Mumbai later this month.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Judges rule ‘Chote Ustaad’

To minimise bias in the SMS voting system, producer Gajendrra Singh has given more powers to the jury in his new show

Mass voting through mobile SMS is a common practice in reality and talent hunt shows. However, the system has often been criticised for not being foolproof. Hence, Gajendrra Singh (producer of ‘Chhote Ustaad’, Star Plus) has decided to change the system in his new show.

According to the new system, viewers will vote for their favourite contestants as they were doing earlier. However, the four contestants with the lowest scores will enter the danger zone. These four contestants will then be asked by the judges to sing a song and will be evaluated accordingly. The one who scores the lowest will be out of the show.

Gajendrra says, “It has often been said that SMS isn’t a foolproof system. The votes tend to reflect the bias of viewers towards contestants on various grounds. Hence, I am introducing this system, which ensures that both the judges and viewers have 50 per cent control over the contestant’s fate.”

While Gajendrra says that he is optimistic about the system working, he also insists, “I am not challenging the judgement of viewers. I respect their opinions as much as that of the judges. For, no matter how hard we work, if the viewers don’t like it, it serves no purpose.”

Just as the controversy about Gajendrra having copied ‘Challenge’ (Zee) was dying down, the producer has eyebrows raised by launching ‘Chhote Ustaad’ (similar to Zee’s ‘Li’l Champs’).

“Well, it hurts when I am alleged of copying. How can someone, who started reality shows in India, be accused of copying? And as far as similarities are concerned, viewers could even group ‘Mission Ustaad’ (9X) and ‘Indian Idol’ together,” he explains.

He adds, “Honestly, I have had enough of such controversies. I had started my work with them and I have no differences with them. I am actually hoping to work again with Zee.”

Maverick Productions to distribute dubbed Hollywood movie

Director Moustapha Akkad's Hollywood classic Al-Risalah presents Islam in its true spirit. This blockbuster that received rave reviews both in the Arab world and the largely Islam-phobic West (it opened in 3000 theatres across the USA) has now reached India. Dubbed in Urdu with music and a song by A. R. Rahman, the film will soon hit theatres across the country on 28 December 2007.

The dubbed Hindi version has been produced by Oasis Enterprises, which is owned by partners Yamshi Ahmed and Saad Ahmed. Oasis Enterprises has acquired the rights for the film. Al-Risalah is being distributed by Anuj Saxena's Maverick Productions who has distributed Om Shanti Om in Rajasthan and Cash in Mysore.

Maverick Production CEO Anuj Saxena says, "It is an interesting different film with a unique subject, so when the offer of distribution came we found it to be a good praposition. The song sung by A. R. Rehman is also outstanding. Maverick is considering a couple of more mainstream films for distribution in 2008."

"We always wanted to bring this film to Indian audiences because perhaps no other film presents a more balanced, more nuanced image of Islam," said Yamshi Ahmed, co-producer of Al-Risalah (dubbed version).

"No doubt, watching this Oscar nominated film will surely be a unique and enriching experience for the audience for a better understanding of Islam and the times of Prophet Mohammad," says Saad Ahmed, co-producer (dubbed version) of the film.

Al-Risalah is the story of Islam from its birth and evolution to its triumph, with the best Hollywood production values full of grandeur and emotion. The film has been approved by Al Azhar University, Egypt, the ulemas of the sub-continent and Mufakkir –e –Islam, Maulana Dr Syed Kalbe Sadiq Sahab Qibla who is the vice prsident of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

The producers held a private screening at an Andheri theatre recently where many eminent Muslims, including some ulemas, watched it. "We deliberately invited the ulemas because it deals with a sensitive issue," informed Urdu poet and columnist Hasan Kamal who dubbed the movie in Urdu.

The film releases first in Mumbai on 28 December.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

9X's Mission Ustaad theme changes to Khwaaish

After last week's performance where husband-wife duo Roop Kumar Rathod and Sunali Rathod won the Ustaad Jodi title for the week, 9X's Mission Ustaad is all set to enter the next week with a new theme.
On 14-15 December at 9 pm on 9X, the theme is Khwaaish, which symbolizes the desire to reduce disparity. Starting the episode in the patriotic spirit, feature writer and poet extraordinaire Javed Akhtar will recite a poem which he recited on the occasion of India's 60 th year of Independence.

Kick starting the Friday episode will be winner of last week- Roop Kumar and Sunali, who will belt Ruk Jaana Nahin Tu from the movie Imtehaan, followed by the next jodi comprising of Kailash Kher and Mahalaxmi Iyer who will lend their voices to sing Tere Mere Sapne. Naresh Iyer and Shweta Pandit , who make up the third jodi, will together croon Dil Chahata Hai and the fourth Jodi comprising of Vasundhara Das and Mohit Chauhan of Silk Route fame will end the evening with Adnan Sami's hit number Lift Karade.

Also, the viewers will see the jodis perform on popular. The youngest singer duo - Naresh Iyer and Shweta Pandit will kick start with Lagaan's Mitwa, followed by Vasundhara Das and Mohit Chauhan's Do Deewane Sheher Mein. Kailash Kher and Mahalaxmi Iyer will sing Yuhi Chala Chal Rahi from Swadesh while Roop and Sunali will sing the track Aa Bhi Ja from the movie Sur.

The four jodis will be judged by A R Rahman, Javed Akhtar and Lara Dutta to vie for the 'Ustaad Jodi' title.



Even though A.R. Rahman may look different with the new hairstyle that he sports, yet he is the same music director who is always lost in the world of his tunes. When asked about his new look he says that he went to Haj and had to shave off his head. Besides, his wife liked it and he didn't have any album to release, so he has let it be as it is. Regarding his two movies this year - Shekhar Kapoor's Elizabeth and Ashutosh Gowarikar's Jodhaa Akbar - Rahman says that though both are period films, yet they are all about human beings. Summing it up he says, "Music has to reveal the basic human emotions. At the end of the day, it is the human feelings that matter."

When we sought his views on the loud music of Elizabeth, the music director admits it and explains: It is co-composed by me. When we started the film it was arty. When I saw the film, I felt it was dragging. We wanted the music to be pulsating and throbbing to make the film better." Isn't the music like that of Roja? Rahman quips, "Yes, and from there on I decided that I should not go below that benchmark. It was complementary because Roja also got several international awards. Haven't Tamil films taken a back seat since he got busy with international ventures? The music director admits it, too. "There was a time when I used to do six films a year. Now, I do one or two Tamil and three to four Hindi films a year." Rahman believes in God and asserts that He controls his life otherwise he wonders if he would have been able to continue working from midnight till morning.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jodha Akbar set for early next year release

UTV's mega venture "Jodha Akbar", which is based on a romance between the 16th century Muslim Mughal emperor Akbar, played by Hrithik Roshan, and a Hindu princess, Jodha Bai, played by Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai, will rock the box office early next year.

Jodha Akbar, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, will also be dubbed in Tamil and Telugu languages.

UTV's current plans are to release the magnum opus in 1,000 plus screens in the domestic market in the three languages (Hindi, Tamil, Telugu).

The rushes of the highly anticipated film has already generated interest among the movie-goers across the country.

Music of the eagerly awaited Jodha Akbar has not released yet.

However, word has leaked around the industry that A.R. Rehman has scored a fantastic composition for the film's soundtrack.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I am not after money:Sukhwinder

About ARRahman in excerpts from Sukhwinder's interview

When it comes to his respect for A R Rahman, Sukhwinder maintains that he still considers Rahman his mentor. Then why did he stop working with him ? “Rahman gave me a platform to showcase my talent. But when I was working with him, everyone said it was me who was composing majority of the tracks, not Rahman. That’s when I moved out of his camp without telling him, since I wanted people to realise that Rahman is the same even without me. But I’m working with him again in Subhash Ghai’s Yuvraj and we’ve just finished a world tour.
So there’s no issue with him,” he confirms.

Friday, December 07, 2007

'If you have the talent, you will go far' - A.R. Rahman

The Musical Maestro, A.R. Rahman feels excited to be a part of the Musical Reality Show Mission Ustaad on 9X. Here is A.R. Rahman talking about music and everything related to music..

He had a brief affair with Channel V’s Super Singer as judge. And then A.R. Rahman didn’t bite the bait for any of the reality TV shows that followed. Though

music is his passion, he always made it clear he had nothing to do with those on the small screen. But then 9X made it possible as it roped in the music maestro to be on the jury of their recently started Mission Ustaad.

Mission Ustaad, an Endemol-UN-9X collaboration brings together four singer jodis – Sunali and Roopkumar Rathod, Mahalaxmi Iyer and Kailash Kher, Shreya Pandit and Naresh Iyer, Vasundhara Das and Mohit Chauhan – who will make their own songs. But since the UN is involved, the songs will have an inherent message too. Each week,the jodi will get judges’ marks and audience votes, but there won’t be any elimination. At the end of 13 weeks, the scores of each pair would be accumulated and those with the highest marks will be declared the Ustaads.

Ask the reticent Rahman why he chose to take up this particular show when he might have been offered others in the past and he says, “Yes, I was, but a few months ago I had composed an anti-poverty anthem for the UN. The video had been appreciated and that’s when the concept of doing something more musically came up to talk about their millennium development goals. India had pledged with the UN to fulfill the goals of removing poverty, ensuring education to each and every child and other such issues by 2015. Since we haven’t had too much progress on that front, it was time to remind everyone about those goals."

"Just talking about them would have been boring, preachy stuff, but when you combine them with music and turn into an entertaining show, we just might get the people to listen in”, adds Rahman..

Unlike other music shows, in Mission Ustaad the ratings of the jury will matter more than the voting public. So was that another reason to accept it? “Yes, that too. I haven’t watched other reality shows, but I have heard that when the judging is left to the viewers, the judges’ position doesn’t hold any importance, the good singers tend to get affected and voted out and everything becomes a mess.”

Reality shows are often marked by heated arguments among the jury. Has he had any differences with the other judges, Javed Akhtar and Lara Dutta? (Laughs) “Yes, I believe they do, but in our show though we have different opinions, there are no pretensions to get the TRPs.” Does he think reality TV shows do any good to talent especially when it tends to get overshadowed by judges, gimmicks and controversies? “To me, more these shows, the merrier. When we see so much of violence, hatred and negativity around, in our everyday lives we can definitely watch shows with new talent, and which do music a lot of good. That alone is the saving factor, not the bickering judges or the unfair audience vote.”

Today’s films have hardly any music. Hasn’t it then become a case of too many singers and too less to sing? “I agree with you completely. There’s too much of a clutter there but at the same time, it’s no longer about anybody just making it. You have the talent, you will go far. Nothing more than that.”

His presence on the show was touted to be his grand debut by the channel. Has he enjoyed all the attention? Will he take up more television? “(Laughs) I enjoyed it more than I expected. Actually, if it’s music then I definitely feel excited. I will take up other shows if it’s going to be any good for music or if it takes music to the next level.” He says he liked “a couple of songs from Om Shanti Om and Saawariya and I liked them…though I didn’t sit and analyse what was right or wrong with them, I enjoyed listening to them.” Coming up next is Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar, “Jaane Tu Jaane Na which Aamir Khan is producing, it’s a young love story and a film called Ada. They all should come out in the next three four months,” he signs off.



Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A.R. Rahman for Himmesh and Adnan

A R Rahman
Only a few days back it was reported that Kailash asked the ‘Mozart of Madras,’ A.R. Rahman to croon for him. Although nothing was confirmed from Rahman on this, sources say that two other composers are also in the fray trying to rope him in to sing for them. It is not uncommon for composers to sing for others.
A R Rahman
In fact, in Kollywood, veteran composers like M.S. Viswanathan and Shankar (Shankar-Ganesh) have sung for other composers.

Of late, such trends haven’t been witnessed in the film industry. The reasons attributed, by the insiders, include ego clashes that might arise and erosion of fan base.

But composers themselves have never opined on those lines. News is that ‘Isai Gnani’ Ilayaraja had recently offered to sing for other composers. Rahman is now becoming hot property as a singer in Bollywood after his hit numbers in Guru, Swades and Dil Se. Himmesh Reshammiya, a self-confessed fan of Rahman, had announced that if ever wanted to sing for another composer it would be only be for Rahman. This composer/singer, known for his nasal twang, has asked Rahman to sing for him and close on his heels is Adnan Sami who has also made a similar request. Rahman when questioned on this said, “It’s extremely kind of them to think of me, but I can’t just sing like that. When I render a track, I cut myself off from other things. Even for a concert, a couple of days before it I don’t pursue my other music stuff, but just concentrate on the singing.” He also added that he hadn’t turned down their request but as he is working on an album, he can consider these offers only after completing it. Is he trying to be politically correct or is he just politely turning down these offers?


Man on a mission

Maestro A R Rahman reveals why he is playing judge in the show ‘Mission Ustaad’ and how music is his route to God to Sapana Patil Poojary

A R Rahman is known to be a man of few words. But the singer-composer is putting that behind him as he takes over as the judge of the reality show on TV (‘Mission Ustaad, 9X).

So what got the reclusive Rahman to get himself to judge a reality show? “It was the format,” he explains adding, “The show will have singers competing against each other to achieve the goals set by the United Nations for our nation. I have been associated with the UN before—I had composed and sung ‘Pray for me Brother’, the UN’s anthem for the Millennium Development Goals campaign. So when I got to know that this show was in association with the UN, I had all the more reason to be on this show.”
Quiz him on what basis will he be judging the contestants and Rahman states, “Art has no parameters. But here, it will be pushing the limits to judge their choice as a singer and composer; to see how their songs send a message to people and how their tunes become popular with the masses.”

Rahman, who has composed music in various genres, shares that music is peace for him.

“Music should be such that it transports you to another hemisphere. While composing music, I feel connected to God,” he says.

Though he admits that there have been times when his imaginative mind fails to create tunes, he owes his creations to the Almighty. “God has been kind. On a new day, there is new inspiration,” he smiles.

And who are his contemporary favourites? Rahman says he likes them all. “Most of them have unique styles. M M Kreem, Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy, Pritam and Vishal-Shekhar give good music,” he remarks.

Lastly, ask if the man behind some of the most romantic numbers is as romantic in real life and Rahman smiles, “I am romantic.”

And has he dedicated any song to his wife Saira? He laughs and says, “My wife doesn’t expect it. Plus, there is enough to work on in films”.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A R Rahman's 10 best compositions

Recently, A R Rahman was asked, by The Hindustan Times, to shortlist his 10 best compositions. These are the films he chose:


The film starring Arvind Ramaswamy and Madhu made Rahman the darling of Bollywood. He was already a star in South India, but Roja marked his debut and led to a long-lasting impact on the Hindi film industry.


Urmila Matondkar redefined fashion for heroines with her gorgeous costumes in Rangeela. Aamir Khan was at his best, and Rahman's music was outstanding. Unfortunately, the film lost most awards that year to Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.


Mani Ratnam and Rahman paired up once again after Roja. Unfortunately, this film was mired in controversy as it explored the relationship between a Hindu boy and Muslim girl. Sonali Bendre, despite her brief appearance, will always be remembered for her Humma Humma.

Dil Se

Lyricist Gulzar and Rahman teamed up for this, one of the best albums of the 90s. The train song, Chhaiya Chhaiya, rendered by Sukhwinder, established him as a singer overnight. Unfortunately, the film was a disaster at the box office despite the music and Shah Rukh Khan playing the lead role.


It was an association between a Bollywood showman and the Mozart of the East. Subhash Ghai was riding high on the success of Pardes and paired up with Rahman instead of Nadeem-Shravan, who had composed songs for the earlier hit. The songs were huge, but the film did average business.

Kandukonden Kandukonden

It was a marriage between Bollywood heroines and Kollywood. The film had Aishwarya Rai, Tabu, Ajith and Mammooty. It was directed by Rajiv Menon and the songs were outstanding.


Directed by Shyam Benegal, this film yielded actress Karishma Kapoor's best performance to date. It was soon forgotten by audiences, but the songs continue to mesmerise.


The only Indian film to be nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in recent memory. Lyricist Javed Akhtar and Rahman gave it their best.

Rang De Basanti

Only a genius like Rahman, coming from Chennai, can make singer Daler Mehendi sound the way he did in Rang De Basanti. A slow track from Lata Mangeshkar, Lukka Chuppi Bahut Hui, was also soothing.


In November 2006, when Aishwarya did Umrao Jaan with Abhishek Bachchan, there was no obvious chemistry between them. Three months later, when Guru was released, the couple performed a miracle at the box office. Guru became the first big hit of 2007, and the song Tere Bina sung by Rahman went on and on during the Abhi-Ash wedding.

14 years after Roja, Rahman proved once again there was no one quite like him.


BIG music acquires music rights of Jodhaa Akbar

Everything about Jodhaa Akbar is ‘Big’. The film not only has the biggest star cast but also the best, namely Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in lead roles. And with Ashutosh Gowarikar in the director’s seat, Jodhaa Akbar is one of the biggest films of Bollywood to release next year.

Adding to that is BIG Music, which has now got associated with the film. According to reliable sources, it is learnt that BIG Music has acquired the music rights for UTV’s Jodhaa Akbar.

Jodhaa Akbar is based on the life of Emperor Akbar and his wife Jodhaa. The film is all set to release on January 25, 2008.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Rahman to judge reality show

Given the number of music based reality shows on television, one would wonder why someone like AR Rahman would lend his name to one.

But the music maestro, who will seen be in Mission Ustaad on 9X, is quite excited about this show, even though he admits that music reality shows have lost their charm on television. "I agree that music shows aren’t what they used to be, but this show will be different because here the singers are not being judged. It’s the song and the thought that goes behind the song that’s being judged," says Rahman.

The four jodis on the show will sing popular and especially composed songs based on a theme linked to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Speaking more about the show, which will also see Javed Akhtar and Lara Dutta giving him company on the judges’ panel, Rahman says that he has been approached for a number of reality shows earlier too, but he didn’t want to take part in any run of the mill kind of show. "I have done Super Singer some years back and another show in the South but this is my biggest music show in the North since then," he says. Rahman believes that music can’t be judged but believes that even one song can have the ability to provide hope and encouragement to a person. "We want to see how effective a song can be to promote a cause. I get loads of e-mails from people telling me that they have at times come out of depression and misery after listening to some song. I hope the opposite doesn’t happen when they listen to any of my compositions!" he chuckles.

He shares a good chemistry with the other two judges as well. "I’m the silent one on the show. Javedji is a very learned man and Lara has been associated with UN since long, so she’s always bang on target about her facts," he says.

Considering that he’s busy with Bollywood as well as South projects, will he be willing to do another show on the small screen if he’s approached for it? "If it’s really interesting and innovative, why not?" he adds with a smile. And he’s willing to compromise on other projects as well if that happens. "Even for this show, I had to compromise on some other things, but that’s okay," he says.

Bollywood will get to hear a lot of Rahman in the coming few months, what with three of his Hindi film albums releasing in the next four months or so.