Movie Update & Reviews
Aishwarya Rai and Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt are likely to get important roles in Shekhar Kapur's Buddha. Richard Gere, a devout follower of the Dalai Lama, is also slated to star in the proposed film. The Dalai Lama has, it is said, given his blessings for the project. Ash has also been signed up for Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodha-e-Akbar opposite Hrithik Roshan. Besides, she is also set to star in Madhur Bhandarkar's next film titled Corporate. It will be a scathing hard-hitting no-holds-barred look at the world of entrepreneurship. Corporate is the second part of Bhandarkar's proposed trilogy, the first being Page 3. The third part will be called Signal.
Amitabh Bachchan is about to be seen in his first full-fledged English film - Versus, a 90-minute rendition of his Viruddh, which is not dubbed or subtitled, but a "separate interpretation" of the same plot. Versus will be released internationally shortly. His co-stars in the movie are Sharmila Tagore and John Abraham.
Meera has turned co-producer with Mahesh Bhatt as her partner. Their film to be shot entirely in Dubai, is tentatively titled The Killer starring Irfan Khan, Emraan Hashmi and Meera herself. Incidentally, it's now the turn of Meera's London-based sister Aksa to set foot in Bollywood courtesy Mahesh Bhatt, of course. She has been signed up for his Gangster.
Shekhar Kapur is in talks with Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett to do a film on the real life story of Australian Mary Evans who became one of Bollywood's biggest stars in the 1930s. The film Fearless Nadia is one of the projects by a leading Australian talent management company that has opened an office in Singapore.
Hollywood actress Neve Campbell will be in India in September to shoot for an international project. She is playing the role of a Pakistani protagonist in the movie set against the backdrop of India's Partition. Campbell will shoot in Chandigarh, New Delhi and Patiala. A quick trip to Mumbai may also be on her itinerary.
After Aitraaz, Subhash Ghai and directors Abbas-Mustan team up again in 36, China Town starring Akshaye Khanna, Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur. The crew was in Bangkok recently for the shooting. Shahid and Kareena will also be seen in Satish Kaushik's Milenge Milenge.
Purva Parag is the new Sonia Gandhi. This NSD actor is playing the character of Sonia Gandhi in T.D. Kumar's latest bilingual film Sonia Sonia. The movie is complete and slated for release soon.
Mangal Pandey: The Rising
Starring: Aamir Khan, Toby Stephens, Rani Mukherjee, Amisha Patel
Director: Ketan Mehta
Music Director: A.R. Rahman
Ketan Mehta is a clever director indeed. He warns viewers at the very outset that he has inadequate historical facts at hand about freedom fighter Mangal Pandey and the Mutiny of 1857 and that there's a lot of fiction in this ?period epic'. But he uses this licence to weave untruths that stare out as disturbingly as Aamir's body wounds. End result: The Rising is not the exalting experience you expect it to be.
Despite Aamir's best efforts to make the movie as big as his expressive eyes, The Rising gets limited to what the British termed it in the first place ? a mere mutiny crushed before it took off. So if Ketan Mehta did not have the wherewithal to convince us that the British were wrong and that it was indeed India's first war of independence, he should have pegged his film on the love story between Pandit Pandey and his mistress Heera, a pure fabrication.
Mangal Pandey (Aamir Khan) is an Indian sepoy serving Britain's East India Company. Mangal rescues his commanding officer William Gordon (Toby Stephens) in Afghanistan and the two soon become good friends. Things change when the British introduce a new set of rifles. Gordon believes the greased cartridge story is a rumour. Mangal trusts him and uses the cartridge, risking defilement. When the rumour gathers momentum, he accuses Gordon of treachery, then decides to take on the Empire. There are sub-plots, for example, Gordon's passion for Jwala, the widow (Amisha Patel) whom he rescues from the funeral pyre.
The film is full of clich�s and incongruities. The Englishmen, except Gordon, are all painted as villains. The righteous Brahmin Mangal cannot bear a shudra touching him but he is quite comfortable touching the equally untouchable prostitute Heera.
Aamir of course does a splendid job but ironically, he has too few lines to say. It is Toby Stephens who takes centre stage. He complements Aamir at every step and delivers a knockout performance though his Hindi is annoyingly indecipherable. Rani Mukerji looking dusky and attractive, puts in a spirited though brief, performance. Amisha hardly gets any footage. Kirron Kher shines in the 15 seconds allotted to her as the brothel keeper Lol Bibi. The major disappointment is the music score by AR Rahman. What's more, a couple of songs were totally unnecessary.
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