Sunday, September 30, 2007

India's best bet at the Oscar awards

India needs help deciding which film should be its official entry for the 80th edition of the Academy Awards. While officials and filmmakers squabble over India's best bet in the Best Foreign Film category, you should vote for your choice.

The background so far: Filmmaker Bhavna Talwar thinks her film 'Dharm' was given the boot because some jury members were biased towards 'Eklavya - The Royal Guard' director Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Talwar has taken the matter to court and the issue will only be resolved on October 10. But does either film deserve to be sent to the Oscars?

Should the Tamil film 'Paruthiveeran' - which won the Best Indian Film award at the Osian's-Cinefan film festival in July - have been selected? Did the hockey-playing damsels of 'Chak De India' stand a better chance of triumphing at the Kodak Theatre finale on February 24, 2008. Or would Mani Ratnam's 'Guru' have gone all the way.

Is there no film this year which can compare to 'Lagaan' and 'Salaam Bombay'?

You decide. If your choice is not on this list (but eligible for the Oscar awards next year), write to me at or leave a comment on this post. And do participate in the poll.

Why Chak De India won't win an Oscar
What India won at the Oscars earlier this year
List of 2006 Oscar nominees and winners
Which film should be India's Oscar entry?
Chak De India
Paruthiveeran (Tamil)
Eklavya - The Royal Guard
Gandhi My Father
Cheeni Kum
Life in a ...Metro
My choice is not on this list
No Indian film in 2007 worth it free polls

Friday, September 28, 2007

Shilpa Shetty arrested over Richard Gere kiss!!!

Just when you thought British newspapers and websites had all but forgotten about Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty, here comes the latest salvo against Indian prudishness.

Several biggies in the British media went overboard on Thursday, reporting on their websites that the Bollywood actress had been arrested over her kiss with Richard Gere.

For the record, the actress had not been arrested at all. Apparently, some immigration officials at Mumbai airport were still in the dark about a Supreme Court ruling allowing the actress to travel overseas.

Shetty was questioned for a few minutes before being allowed to proceed to Berlin for the premiere of her musical Miss Bollywood.

So much for martyrdom at the hands of India's moral police. Soon this episode will be forgotten in Britain and Shilpa Shetty will once again fade from public memory like she had in the past few months.

Is Shilpa Shetty's UK honeymoon over?

Shilpa Shetty's career
is better than ever
is down in the dumps
can't say
who is Shilpa Shetty? free polls

Ben Kingsley as Shakespeare and Shahjehan

English playwright William Shakespeare and Mughal emperor Shahjehan were contemporaries - though it is doubtful either knew of the other's existence. Four centuries later, Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley is playing both historical figures in two different films.

First up is the one on Shakespeare, based on a novel about a meeting between The Bard and his lawyer as he prepares his last Will and testament.

The second is a film about the making of the Taj Mahal in Agra. Kingsley, 63, will essay the role of Shahjehan who built the marble monument in the memory of his wife Mumtaz, played by Aishwarya Rai.

Shooting for both films is slated to begin in 2008.

And what of the Indian Express report which had Kingsley playing spiritual teacher Osho Rajneesh in the Guru of Sex?

Seems Kingsley, who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough's 1982 film, is trying to catch up on his history.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Aishwarya Rai - pregnant or not?

So is Aishwarya Rai pregnant? Well, given that the first rumours of her pregnancy surfaced in late July and there is still no tell-tale bump as we head into October 2007, I guess it's safe to assume that she's not.

Rai and hubby Abhishek Bachchan have been denying it from the start but journalists citing information from reliable sources had been keeping speculation alive for weeks. And given the number of hits my previous post on the subject was getting, it seemed plenty of Aishwarya fans were curious too.

The celebrity couple were last seen walking hand-in-hand in Boston where Aishwarya was busy shooting for her latest Hollywood venture The Next Pink Panther.

(Photo Credit: KCS/Splash News)
Is Aishwarya Rai pregnant?
Yes, look at the top she's wearing
No, it's all just a rumour
Can't say
Who cares? She'll reveal it when she wants free polls

Saturday, September 22, 2007

And Delhi's best FM radio station is

Believe it or not, Meow! 104.8 FM has been voted Delhi's most popular FM radio station in a poll conducted on this blog.

The Just-for-Women initiative had been the newbie on the block, making its debut on Delhi's airwaves some three months ago. But it must have done something right to get 28 percent of the votes cast in the poll.

Hit 95 FM finished in second place with 20 percent, finishing just one vote ahead of Fever 104 FM.

The three were the leaders in the pack, with only 11 percent going Radio City 91.1 FM's way. And six percent voted Red 93.5 FM into fifth place.

Before the radio stations see red over these results, let me clarify that this poll had a strong online bias - the votes came from 166 random surfers.


Adam moos better than Amit Varma's cows
Delhi's "all talk" radio station
Getting high on Fever 104
Ten hits in a row, anyone?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Now a Finn blogs about Bollywood

One would have thought natives of Finland won't know much about India, so it was a pleasant surprise to come across a Finn blogging about Bollywood in Finnish.

Anu, 29, is so enamoured by the Indian film industry that her blog is choc-a-bloc with photos of several Bollywood actors.

She even calls herself Anuradha on the blog because she's "fallen in love with India".

But why does she prefer Bollywood films? Anu told Toe Knee Unplugged she's sick of answering the same old question.

"Bollywood films are lovely, romantic and very good music! I love them! I understand that with English subtitles."
Anu and her husband first visited India in 1998 and have been here several times since. They even met Aishwarya Rai at a Goa hotel in 2003 when the former Miss World was filming Kyon Ho Gaya Na.

Their 7-year-old daughter loves Indian clothes like the salwar-kameez as much as her mother does, though Anu admits the sari is a tad too difficult to wear.

What was the strangest thing she saw in India?

"Nothing," she says at first. And then has an afterthought. "Maybe naked gurus."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Is Shilpa Shetty's UK honeymoon over?

She has a musical in hand, a perfume to her name and fashion shows to grace - but at 32, is that all Shilpa Shetty can achieve?

When Shilpa won Celebrity Big Brother, she was perhaps the only Indian any Briton recognised - except maybe Mahatma Gandhi. And the buzz was she was headed for superstardom and a film with Hugh Grant. She even met the Queen.

What now?

Well, she did make the headlines once again but only for the infamous Richard Gere kiss. Won India's Rajiv Gandhi National Quality award (for what I wonder). Her S square perfume is doing well. And this month, Shilpa was the most famous Bollywood celebrity to walk the ramp at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.

And what of her projects?

- Her musical Miss Bollywood opens in Berlin at the end of this month. Why not in Britain, I wonder?

- She's apparently producing a DVD on yoga. Aimed at plump British ladies, I guess.

- Is she really being considered for the next Bond film? Did she actually refuse The Pink Panther? Or is all this just a publicity gimmick.

- No news of her turn as Sita in the international version of Hanuman nor the much-delayed Quick Slip Me A Bride

- The producers of a Kannada film starring Shilpa in her pre-Big Brother days are releasing a dubbed version of it, hoping to cash in on her new-found fame. It's apparently called Shilpa: The Big Don. But Shilpa's not amused.

- She's busy denying an affair with a married man (a UK-based businessman) and fighting several legal battles.

And this is what the UK media has to say -

The Telegraph: After a Celebrity Big Brother debacle that saw Jade Goody and her henchwomen reviled as racists, she achieved saint status on an unprecedented scale. Next to Shetty, Mother Teresa looked like a kitten-drowning deviant...There is a palpable chilliness about her. While the hotel room we're in is as baking as a Kew hothouse, from Shetty herself there emanates little genuine warmth...In the absence of any tangible talent other than dancing skills and a forgiving way with racist oiks, the brutally short attention span of the Heat-reading masses will see to it that she is over before she ever really got going.

Daily Mail: If Shilpa's popularity is indeed beginning to wane, many blame her domineering mother and her agent.

Me thinks

Shilpa should come back to earth and forget about the UK for a while. Life in a Metro wasn't so bad. Shilpa acts well enough and she won't have much trouble finding roles back home in India.

SPOOF - Shilpa nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
DAILY HIGHLIGHTS of Shilpa on Big Brother
Shilpa wins: The final moments
Day 26
Day 25
Day 24
Day 23
Day 22
Day 21
Day 20
Day 19
Day 18
Day 17
Day 16
Day 15
Day 14
Day 13
Day 12
Day 11: Part Two
Day 11
Day 10: Part Two
Day 10
Day 9
Day 8
Day 7
Day 6
Day 5
Day 4
Day 3
Day 2
Day 1

The Best of Shilpa Shetty on Big Brother
And the winner is - Shilpa Shetty
Day 19 - Shilpa's Aunt Jameela act

Shilpa Shetty's career
is better than ever
is down in the dumps
can't say
who is Shilpa Shetty? free polls

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Notes from the India Fashion Week

Yes, I did promise you guys I'll be blogging live from the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week. But I couldn't. Was just too tired.

Since it was my first Fashion Week, the winged chariot of Time passed swiftly by as I struggled with terms like A-line dresses, blouson and leg-of-mutton. And fabrics like soyabean lycra.

Why, why, why can't press releases for fashion events be written from the common man's perspective?

Five days later, despite hours spent Googling and rereading collection write-ups, I am not much better off.

I guess covering fashion events is a skill directly proportional to the number of fashion events one attends. Some reporters, having covered this sort of thing for eons, were already on "embracing" terms (no pun intended) with designers while I was the notebook-in-hand "Excuse me, Mr Rathore/Bal/Tahiliani" type.

By the end, I was so sick of the Fashion Week I could have easily blown up Hall no. 7 of Pragati Maidan, had a stick of dynamite been within my grasp.

Then the grand finale happened. And after an agonising wait of an-hour-and-a-half, I caught my first glimpse of 'Siyaahi'. Rohit Bal's phenomenal new "ink-stained" range was undeniably the best collection of the five-day extravaganza.

Add his little jig after the show, the touching gesture of inviting the late Rohit Khosla's mom and dad to grace the stage, the tough act of convincing fellow designers to walk on the ramp - and you know why Bal is the ultimate showman of fashion.

It also explains why his was the only show, apart from Tarun Tahiliani's "Shilpa Shetty studded" event, to get a standing ovation.

All I can say now is - Mr Bal, I'll be back next year.

Here's my official coverage of the Fashion Week -
Preview - Hotel? Nah! Destination Pragati Maidan
Day 1: Posh Beckham in Varanasi
Day 2: Shilpa Shetty sizzles
Day 3: Phone-in fashion
Day 4: Blow Blow Isabella Blow
Day 5: Ink-stained gowns
India Fashion Week competes with New York
Delhi's plastic bags go chic at Paris Fashion Week

[Photo: From a preview of one of Rohit Bal's dresses]

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fashion, fashion everywhere...

The Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week opens tomorrow and between 12 pm and 12 am for the next five days, a bespectacled guy looking forlorn and lost will be seen roaming around in the sprawling Pragati Maidan complex, trying to come to terms with the fact that covering a Fashion Week is not a suitable pastime for those who find nirvana in watching romantic comedies on HBO.

For live coverage of Delhi's premier fashion event, keep watching this space.

September 2007 Blog Mela: Nominate now

Did you just come across a quirky, interesting or something-that-tugs-at-your-heartstrings blog? If yes, feel free to nominate it for the September Blog Mela being hosted here on September 26

Blog Mela Rules
- Posts must have been written by Indians or have an Indian angle
- Only posts published between 1-22 September, 2007 would be accepted
- If possible, please nominate individual posts, not the whole blog
- Feel free to nominate something you have written. Immodesty appreciated
- You can nominate as many blog posts as you like - provided you really like them
- Only nominations received before midnight on September 22 will be featured
- No, you don't get any moolah for nominating or getting featured in the Blog Mela. That could change once I am a millionaire but for now you'll just have to bear with me
- Yours truly reserves the right to nominate good posts which you ignore

How to Nominate
- Leave a comment on this post OR better still - Mail me at toeknee (at) gmail (dot) com

Check out previous Blog Melas
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Faakhir back with new album

Remember Mahi Ve? A beautiful mix of jazz, melody and a rocking video made this song a rage in India when it was released as part of the Mantra album in 2005.

Well, Pakistani singer and composer Faakhir Mehmood is all set to bring out his next album. The popular musician will start production work on his latest project next week.

Faakhir told Toe Knee Unplugged he's busy "polishing" the melodies he's composed in the last three years. Well, given the number of hits this singer has churned out since his debut in 2000, the wait should be worth it.

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