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June 2005

Rani reigns supreme in Pakistan

It was a dinner befitting the queen herself. After a hat-trick of hits ? Hum Tum, Veer-Zaara and Black, Rani Mukherjee has added another feather to her cap: The charming actress was the only privileged one from the film industry to be invited for the exclusive dinner that the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh recently hosted in honour of Pakistan President General Musharraf in New Delhi's Ashoka Hotel. Says Rani: "I really felt honoured to represent Hindi cinema at such an important occasion. The Pakistani dignitaries said they'd love to have me in their country any time I want. And I'd love to go! They all said that I'm very popular in their country."

Incidentally, Rani is a hit with the Bachchans too. Both father and son say that they love working with the "warm and loving girl that Rani is". No wonder then that Rani has "Amit uncle" for company in four movies at the moment. And she sure shares great screen chemistry with Bachchan Junior.

Aishwarya Provoked!

Talking of exclusive dinners, how can Rani's one time friend Aishwarya Rai be left behind! The gorgeous actress who was rated as one of 100 most influential people in Time magazine's list, had the honour of attending a star-studded dinner in New York recently. Ash dined with the likes of Melissa Etheridge, John Galliano and Eliot Spitzer. Meanwhile, plum projects continue to fall in Ash's pretty lap and this time she has been truly Provoked to act! Well, Provoked is the title of Ash's latest project which came her way while she was shooting for Mistress of Spices in the UK. Based on a true story, the film has Aishwarya playing a Punjabi woman Kiranjit Ahluwalia who leaves India to marry a London-based guy, only to be badly abused. She ends up in prison for murdering her husband. It's a case that forced the law about crimes of passion to be amended in the UK.

The director of Provoked Jagmohan Mundhra, calls it his trilogy of tributes to Indian womanhood. He had earlier directed Kamala and Bawandar. "What I find especially interesting is that eventually the woman finds justice within her horrific circumstances," Ash said. Provoked will also feature Naveen Andrews and Nandita Das.

Amitabh is UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Amitabh Bachchan is in august company. With UNICEF naming him its International Goodwill Ambassador to create awareness in the fields of polio eradication and AIDS prevention and treatment, Big B has joined the select group of celebrities which includes the legendary Audrey Hepburn, Sir Roger Moore and Harry Belafonte.

Interestingly, after Rani, Amitabh's world would now be black, on screen of course. The much feted actor will be seen in the role of a blind lawyer in Zamaanat, a film which took seven years in the making. The movie also stars new mom and Amitabh's once bahu-to-be, Karisma Kapoor. And yes, Amitabh also has a project with?hold your breath? Mallika Sherawat in the pipeline! Of course, his Sholay buddy Garam Dharam has already had the privilege of working with the siren.

Munnabhai in his Hollywood avatar

It's a role reversal of sorts. After churning out innumerable rip-offs of Hollywood flicks, Bollywood has this one time proved to be an inspiration for a Hollywood movie. 20th Century Fox will reportedly remake the blockbuster Munnabhai MBBS after Vidhu Vinod Chopra sold its rights to the US film studio. The English version will be titled Gangster MD. It's the first time a Hollywood studio has bought the rights to an Indian film. Munnabhai MBBS fetched rave reviews and was a huge success among South Asians living abroad. The film also had the honour of being reviewed in the British Medical Journal, one of the most reputed medical journals in the world, where it was called a "riot". This was the first time that a Hindi movie, and that too of the ?bole tu' genre of Mombaiyya, made it to the prestigious publication.

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