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August 2002

Shabana Azmi is very excited about her new role as?. hold on? a witch! Yes, the internationally acclaimed actress after essaying every possible character, is now playing a chudail (Wicked witch) in a children?s film titled Makdi (Female spider), which marks the directorial debut of Vishal Bhardwaj, the guy who composed the music for Gulzar?s Maachis. Shabana says that she enjoyed herself thoroughly doing the witchy bit. ?But I was horrid, I would scare away little children in the hotel with my wild, unkempt hair, scaly arms, cracked skin and spooky talons,? she grins. The redoubtable Ms Azmi says that she opted for a ?modern looking? witch who wore one-foot high boots, a long tight dress, one eye white and a red flame in the other. Adds she: I?ve played her slightly comic. Trust the actress to add a new dimension to her unusual portrayal. Incidentally, Shabana hasn?t charged a penny for this role. The veteran actress is also set to be the second Indian, after director Ritwik Ghatak, to be honoured at the New York Film Festival which opens on September 27 this year.

Shabana brings to mind her talented niece Tabu who?s MF Hussain?s latest muse. The actress is playing the lead role (a double one) in Hussain?s current project Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities, and can?t stop raving about her director. So it?s hard to say who?s more obsessed with the other. Ask the celebrated artist to explain the difference between his erstwhile obsession Madhuri and his present fancy Tabu, and he?s ready with his quote: Madhuri is an illusion but Tabu is a reality. Whatever that means! Tabu of course takes it as a compliment.

Akshay Kumar too is preparing for his newest role yet and he is not going to be enacting this one. He?s actually going to be living it and he?s excited like he?s never been before! Yes, you could say he?s become paagal deewana! You see, he?s soon to become a papa ? Twinkle is expecting their first baby in October. The doting dad-to-be has already decided to take a month off from work post-delivery, to help his wife cope with her new role as mom. Mom-in-law Dimple too is basking in the glow of impending grannyhood, as also of her flourishing candle business. Incidentally, Akki is quite the ideal son-in-law. Recently, a scene in one of his forthcoming movies required the actor?s bedroom to be lit up with innumerable candles and the director realised to his horror that he had forgotten to arrange for them. It was his hero Akshay who played the saviour. The actor drove down all the way to Dimple?s factory, stuffed his car with a whole lot of her exquisite candles and drove right back to the sets. In one master stroke, the guy won the hearts of both ? his director and his mother-in-law.

Twinkle of course has quit films and has opened a swanky lifestyle store in partnership with a friend and is also a full-fledged interior designer now. Incidentally, Tabu hired Twinkle recently to do up her new home. Someone else who has acquired a plush new apartment is Sonali Bendre. Since the pretty girl is hardly doing any films now, there are strong rumours that she?s set to settle down in marital bliss with her beau Goldie Behl.

After Dil Chahta Hai, Farhan Akhtar?s heart desired to make a different kind of a film, something far removed from the theme of young suburban angst. Well, his dream has now materialised in the form of Laksh (Aim). That?s the title of Farhan?s second film, a war epic which stars Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta. There was much speculation over the possible lead actor (Vivek Oberoi was the name most often mentioned) but finally it?s Hrithik who has grabbed the coveted role. According to Hrithik, it?s a very real war film, no song breaks and nothing filmy. The actor meanwhile remains unfazed by all the negative publicity he?s been getting of late. ?The media has been writing about how angry and upset I am about my films not doing well but honestly, that?s not true.? He confesses that the only thing he gets upset about is when he doesn?t have enough time to prepare his lines and scenes. For the present, Hrithik is pretty upbeat about his upcoming release Mujhse Dosti Karoge. The million dollar question: Will the audience become friends with Duggu again (after rejecting him in Aap Mujhe Achhe Lagne Lage and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum), and catapult him to superstardom again? We?ll just have to wait and watch to get the answer to that one!

A friendship between them was just waiting to happen. The similarities are aplenty: Both Sushmita Sen and Manisha Koirala are beautiful, independent and successful women who have lived life on their own terms. They are selective about the films they do and choose to have a passionate personal life, which they make no secret of, unlike other actresses. So it?s not surprising that the Nepali beauty has signed on the Bengali SENsation for her first production venture titled Paisa Vasool, in which Manisha herself stars. I could only think of Sush for the role, says Manya. The film is about the relationship that two strong working women share, grins Sushmita. No wonder then that the two gals have become great buddies and are seen hitting the nightspots in tinseltown these days. Meanwhile, there?s another Bong Babe who?s giving the normally confident Sush Sen sleepless nights. Yes, you guessed right ? Bipasha Basu, the hottest and most happening star on the Indian film firmament today. Apparently, the mere mention of the sultry Bips has Sushmita in jitters, especially now that all the industrywalas who matter, are only too keen to eat out of Ms Basu?s hands. Ironically though, Bipasha has gone on record as saying that she?s ?off men? these days, be it Dino Morea, Milind Soman or John Abraham. Amen!

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