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February 2005

Aishwarya Rai, according to reports, is set to star in a Hollywood blockbuster called Taj Mahal. A group of U.S.-based Indian technology tycoons will fund the 10-million-dollar Imax film to be released in January 2006. Rumours are also rife that the actress has been signed by Shyam Benegal for his next film, which will go on the floors after the filmmaker completes his film with Vivek Oberoi and Kareena Kapoor. Benegal was not available for comment but a source from his office revealed that they had indeed had discussions with the screen diva for the major project. Right now the Bollywood queen is prioritizing her three international projects, including Gurinder Chadha's next, for which she has decided to set aside major dates.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's much awaited Amitabh-Rani-starrer Black has been rescheduled for a February 4 release. Unlike other Bhansali movies, this one is songless. Rani essays the most challenging role of her career in Black ? she plays a deaf, mute and blind girl.

Kalpana Lajmi has begun shooting for her next film Chingari starring Sushmita Sen. She plans to release it in July this year. However, Lajmi's ambitious Sinhasan with Aishwarya Rai will have to wait awhile. According to the director, the film will take off only when she gets a confirmation on Ash's dates since she is committed to several projects.

Supriya Pathak returns to the big screen after 12 years and has landed two projects --- Ram Gopal Varma's Sarkaar and Saurabh Tewari's Khajoor. Sarkaar will see Supriya as Amitabh Bachchan's wife and Kay Kay's and Abhishek's mother.

Harry Baweja has the John-Priyanka starrer Tera Yeh Karm, a romantic thriller, lined up for release. The big one from his banner, however, is the film that will be his son Harman's launching pad, Love Story-2005-2050. Baweja will be shortly confirming an international team of technicians from Hollywood for the sci-fi futuristic film.

The British Film Institute (BFI) is compiling a list of top 100 Hindi films since the days of the first Indian movie. The list, expected to be released next year, will be contained in a book titled 100 Hindi Films being written by acclaimed British film scholar Rachel Dwyer, who has authored several books on Bollywood.


Swades: We, The People

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Makarand Deshpande

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Music Director: AR Rahman

The story stirs and strikes a chord all right but the sheer length of the movie mars much of the effect. The motive behind director Gowariker's film is noble: He tells his countrymen to ask not what the government has done for them, but get down to doing things for themselves. Like for instance, building a dam in their neighborhood. But sadly, Gowariker's depiction of an backward India is banal and clich�d. Dialogues by poet-satirist KP Saxena, however, give that much needed dash of humour to an otherwise serious tale of an Indian- American returning to take back with him his foster mother, but bringing by default an electrifying revolution in a sleepy hamlet, ridden by gender and caste biases.

All the sylvan splendour of the countryside captured so artfully and the simplistic vignettes of rural life still don't convince how a high-flying Indian employed by NASA would consider quitting his job. But well?

Shah Rukh Khan as NASA engineer Mohan Bhargava comes up with one of his finest performances. The best part is, he does not ham even once. The air of educated refinement about him makes you look up to him with respect. Can't think of any other of his breed who could have convinced you in the role of a space scientist the way he does. Newcomer Gayatri Joshi is strongly reminiscent of the late Smita Patil, not just because of her facial resemblance, but also for the gracious charm she exudes.

Javed Akhtar and AR Rahman have combined their skills to create a mellifluous musical score.

Great message, good music, but Swades unlike Lagaan, is devoid of drama and thrills. It should have had more moments.

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