Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Abhi-Ash Bash… krazy kiya re!!

It was truly the (Grand) mother of all events! From the time India’s most “eligible bachelor” turned his sexy gaze on the “most beautiful woman in the world” it’s been hype hoopla and hungama all the way. Today Abhishek Bachchan and Ash Rai – oops, Bachchan – are man and wife, but you seriously think you’ve heard the last of them? Visit your friendly neighbourhood shrink people, because you ain’t heard – or seen – nothin’yet! Act II is about to begin with the feedbacks, reactions, observations, and most importantly, speculations! Can the gorgeous free-spirited super-star ever hope to fit into (allegedly) “Mama’s boys” life with confidence... into the (now-traditional, now new-age) Bachchan sansar with the required orthodox, lowkey, persona desired? While marketers are busy toting up a figure to gauge the collective worth of the brand Bachchan – last estimated at Rs.7 billion – the moot question is: Has the media finally lost it, in its self-appointed role as stalker & paparazzi on an over-drive?

Lowe’s Priti Nair believes that the frenzy has as much to do with the over-hyped times we live in as the significance of the event itself. “It’s tragic to see the depth Breaking News has nosedived to. A while ago – I am not kidding – it proudly trumpetted the price of onions. Imagine!” All the sickening and boring details, flashed & printed ad nauseam, Nair believes, is the new disease – the celebration of trivia and it has as much to do with the dumbing down of the media as fierce competition blitzes the media space. This results in mass frenzy, making mountains of molehills and some really “creative” spins designed to grab eyeballs & get a leg-up in rat race.

One of the Mumbai’s most celebrated theatre directors (No, not the one ‘n’ only AP, for chrissake!) offers his take. “There can be no greater icon in the history of Bollywood than AB, right? When his son – today a rising star in his own right – decides to marry the most beautiful, glamorous and hot-ticket star in Bollywood, c’mon, it’s a pre-sold knock-out event! Naturally, the media would go ga-ga. Instead of a blanket ban (causing them to go ballistic), wouldn’t it have been so much better if they were allocated some time to shoot their pictures and clear out?” he reasons.

True! By excluding the media and using security to take care of the VIP guests – and inadvertently rough them up! – the Bachchans mucked it up. Interestingly, it was this very same Mr. Bachchan who, a few months ago, went to the media with a full page ad endorsing his son’s Guru to the skies. “Close friends and family are all very well as are cute speeches about the rationale that defined his actions in the media. I think selective memory and exploiting the media, when required, is also not a great act. I am very disappointed,” he adds.
Brunch – has difficulty breathing when the issue is brought up! When we eventually manage to tear her away from watching POGO Channel, she somewhat recovers and begins to talk. “Guys, we are all up to our ears with the AbhiAsh thing and have decided, in principle, to shove any news related to the golden couple in the deep freeze for at least a couple of months. Which is why, I am staying away from all news channels and concentrating on POGO! Bas, bahut ho gaya, yaar!”

Poonam – a hard-core showbiz journo of many years – admits that it’s big stuff, but genuinely feels that the channels and publications overestimated the news value of the event and went insane flashing it 24X7. “It’s like this. After a point, even the most curious and excited fan gets fed-up of seeing the same boring visuals, flashed repeatedly across all channels. Why this madness? I guess it has to do with the insecurity of channels... This is hot stuff and they don’t want to miss a beat, in case another channel gets that sudden, unexpected and winning dramatic visual of the Big B, Jaya or the newly-wedded couple that instantly allows them to surge ahead. Scary huh?”

So, at the end of the day, what gives? It’s a tricky question. Traditionally, worldwide, the celeb-media face-off has always been combustible, a love-hate relationship with each feeding off the other. Increasingly, the thin line between private (no entry) and public (welcome) are blurring with the media, insisting that the celebs owe them one. While the Bachchans maintain that they have every right to hold a “small private wedding” to which the me- dia is not invited, critics aver that their pre-historic and regressive antics – temple-hopping, tree-wedding, astro-craze on one hand, and limited edition, starry designer functions with the newly-wedded couple rocking to the chartbusting Kajra-re on the other, makes a mockery of the whole thing. The simple truth is that celebrities are public property created, promoted, and in some fashion, owned by the media. Today, media has assumed the proportion of a Frankenstein and when towering mega-stars (who live in the public eye) suddenly decide to play coy and shut them off in an event that has swept most local, national and international news... Baby, you’re asking for trouble!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007


Sheryl Crow’s toilet talk

One person, really struggling hard for environment’s sake, is songstress Sheryl Crow. In her latest blog entry, she made a peculiar plea to the readers – to use a ‘fabric sleeve’ as a pseudonapkin (designed by her – in case you were thinking of purchasing some) and to also utilise just one square of toilet paper per rest room visit! While Crow did retract the latter part of her statement later and claimed to have said that only to make people take notice of her cause – global warming – the damage was done. For as of now, Sheryl Crow’s image of a sane woman has officially been flushed down the drain!

Daddy’s home!

Well yes, ill health has its benefits too! For after his beloved Rosa brokeup with him and his heart-ache landed him in hospital, the dapper star got to stay at home for quite a while, which resulted in getting him some quality time with his children Sarah and Ibrahim. And as he endured lengthy shootings in New York for Ta Ra Rum Pum, the two child actors, Angelina Idnani and Haji Ali, kept reminding him of his own kids back home. Intending to maintain such strong bonds with his kids, Saif ’s now seriously planning out his time...

Of love, handles and Lovely Singh!

Kick-ass Kareena has lately been setting the silver-screen afire with her hot number in the film Kya Love Story Hai… And news is that she did the number as a friendly gesture for director Lovely Singh (who happens to be a close pal), though she did refuse to wear revealing clothes for the same. Well, at least there’s someone who knows how to handle love-handles!

No kidding, this time!

After her recent visit to an orphanage in Russia, the former Baywatch star, Pamela Anderson obliged her online diary by chronicling the same… Apparently, she was touched and inspired to meet kids as old as her own two boys, Brandon and Dylan, but unlike them, they had nothing to really call their own. Although her entries indicate a very humane face of the star, it also perhaps portends yet another celebrity adoption. You know… it’s the ‘in thing’.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Conspiracy 2350: Destroy all intelligent life forms!

Yes, technology has helped make life easier in more ways than one. Or has it? Think again. It could ultimately prove to be the biggest curse on mankind...

It’s 2025 and Marie’s 3-year-old has been into a bad accident. An already vexed Marie’s worry is compounded when all she has for assistance is her domesticated robot – who dials the automated ambulance service. Marie also realises that when she reaches the hi-tech hospital in the neighborhood, she’ll be greeted by a bunch of machines again, and one of them will operate upon her son. Her precious son in the hands of merciless machines that albeit assiduously programmed, will nevertheless lack the human touch. Is this for real?

Well, the way technology moves forward, one cannot discount this possibilitiy. Millions of cleaning robots and myriad tactical robots are already being used all over the world today. By the end of this year, they could be manning some airport lounges & traffic monitoring. Even humanoid robots are a reality; they would even demand rights, according to the British government, years later. And who knows, these marvels of technology could wreak havoc with civilisation. Are we sounding too alarmist? Look around you, and you will realise that technology has already managed to enslave humans. Imagine life today without cars, television, radio, computers, gaming consoles, printers, washing machines, email, Internet, PDAs, cell phones, iPods, credit cards, ATMs & GPS devices. Especially when these concepts were unimaginable a few decades ago. Consider what happened in North America just a few weeks ago, when the BlackBerry wireless e-mail service from Research In Motion suffered an 8-hour outage. Millions of hapless ‘humans’ had their schedules thrown off gear as they could not access their emails on the go.

In fact, things are getting more and more complicated and amusing at the same time. For instance, TV programmes are available on television (naturally!), mobile as well as on the computer via IPTV. That too when the busy, stressful lifestyles of people means they spend less and less time on the idiot box. Music is on the iPod, on the music system in your home & car, on your mobile and again, on your computer! It’s almost like they want us to stay wired to our machines always, whether or not we spend any time at all with our families.

And if that’s this generation, think of the generations to follow – ‘blessed’ by the wonders of technology and living lives that are starved of relationships. It’s a scenario similar to that in the Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix, which is as perilous as it is fascinating. And Morpheus sums up the plight of the people in the Matrix aptly thus tells Neo, “... these people are still a part of that system... And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” And the way we are going, we already seem to be part of a Matrix, that seeks to take over. Can we stop its endemic, or are we indeed doomed to be swept away?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Girls uninterrupted!

Angie and Uma go ‘beyond borders’ in love, life and acting

When goddesses placed their ethereal feet on Earth and mingled with mortals in epic times, their devastating beauty and power destroyed nations (remember the golden Apple of Discord?). Once again, two goddesses, who have no golden apple but who rule the silver screen nonetheless, are mesmerizing audiences. Racing towards legendary Hollywood status, Uma Th urman and Angelina Jolie have married femininity with athleticism, and spirituality with the material. Emblematizing the American melting pot, Angelina, born on June 4th 1975, inherited her enviable genes from French-Canadian model/actress Marcheline Bertrand and the Academy Award winning actor Jon Voight. Uma, born on April 29th, 1970, also grew up in a multi-cultural milieu with a Swedish model as a mother and a father who is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies. Besides their privileged and culturally diverse upbringing, the Uma-Angelina story has been running a parallel course for years.

Frequently topping various ‘Most Beautiful’ lists, Angelina and Uma fi rst cracked into showbiz by modeling at the young ages of 16 and 15. At 24, both proved their mettle as actresses and were nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Whereas Angelina took home the Oscar in 1999 for her role in Girl, Interrupted, Uma lost out and did not bag the prestigious award for her 1994 fi lm Pulp Fiction. Uncannily, both were fi rst married to British actors, Johnny Lee Miller (married to Angelina for 3 years) and Gary Oldman (married to Uma for 2 years). They both married American actors the second time, meeting their (now ex) husbands, Billy Bob Th ornton and Ethan Hawke, on the sets of Pushing Tin and Gattaca respectively. Rather than ruining men, Uma and Angelina use their fame to advance philanthropic causes. While Uma actively supports peace initiatives in the Middle East and is a fi rm advocate of gun control laws in the US, Angelina has shamed many a celebrity by donating one third of her income to charity, being a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and adopting two children. Th e spiritual education of the two is startlingly similar; because of her desire that her adopted son, Maddox, know about his Cambodian heritage, Angelina has immersed herself in Buddhist culture in order to teach him. Uma, too, has a life-long tie with Buddhism: her father’s deep-rooted interest in Buddhism meant that not only were Uma and her three brothers given Buddhist names (a tradition that she followed by naming her fi rstborn ‘Maya Ray’), but they were also brought up as Buddhists and spent a considerable portion of their younger years in the Indo-Tibet region.

Bringing their individuality to their work, they’ve ventured off the beaten track and portrayed characters such as a sociopath, a Roman goddess, a ditzy model, and a femme fatale between them. Depicting a proclivity for strong characters and a visible aggression in both personal and professional lives, Uma and Angelina have acted in volumes of Kill Bill and Lara Croft , making both thespians a household name, and popularizing the idea of tough-yet-sexy women.

With their acting prowess and incomparable allure, it’s no wonder that these divas have bonded as friends. Setting the screen alight this year are Uma in My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Angelina in Th e Good Shepherd. Here’s to these gorgeous, gumptious gals!