This past weekend, encouraged no doubt by the festive spirit and the general mood of optimism that tends to accompany the dawn of a new year, Shah Rukh Khan announced the title of his new film to eager fans who had been pressing him for weeks for some information on the project. This is the ‘dwarf film’, as it’s come to be known for some months now, the project SRK is currently filming with Tanu Weds Manu director Anand L Rai, in which he does an Appu Raja of sorts (or an Apoorva Sagodharagal, depending on where in the country you live).
As you probably know by now, the movie is titled Zero (and not the politically incorrect ‘Batla’ as rumours had suggested until recently), and the announcement came as part of a video with a short clip of a vertically-challenged Shah Rukh crashing what appears to be a lah-di-dah party in only a vest and his underpants, dancing before a clearly shocked gathering to the tune of Tumko Humpe Pyaar Aaya. The response from sycophantic fans has been ecstatic, others have made the predictable ‘size doesn’t matter’ jokes, but overall most online responders seem to agree that at least it appears to be a fresh idea.
The film doesn’t come out until Christmas this year, and you probably wouldn’t guess that one of the first people to have seen this video clip—long before there was any talk of releasing it to fans—was Hollywood star Brad Pitt. When Pitt was in Mumbai in May last year to promote his Netflix movie War Machine, I had the opportunity to moderate a conversation between Pitt and SRK. Minutes before the cameras rolled for that session at a five-star hotel in south Mumbai, in a holding area backstage where they were formally introduced and exchanged pleasantries, Shah Rukh pulled out his cellphone and played this clip for Pitt, who was clearly intrigued. I remember thinking: ‘Oh no, he’s showing this to the guy who did The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.’ But Pitt was appreciative and admiring—as much of SRK’s dancing as of the nifty VFX that enabled the clip.
The Overprotective Dad
Did you know that Saif Ali Khan banned his one-year-old son Taimur from attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve? The actor reveals that he expressly asked his wife Kareena not to take the little guy along because it would surely turn out to be a paparazzi mela, and there was a good chance other church- goers would be inconvenienced. Saif says he’s aware that photographers love Taimur, but he’s not thrilled that his son is fast emerging the most photographed star kid in Bollywood. “I think he’s developed a wave,” Saif jokes. It’s evident in photographs that Taimur is fascinated by the sight and sound of flashbulbs popping and the paps yelling out his name, “but there’s always that fear that the kid could turn out to be a real spoilt brat,” Saif explains. It is for that reason that Saif says Kareena and he have decided to pack Taimur off to boarding school once he’s a bit older.
A Case of Sour Grapes
Whoever said that actresses are the bitchiest lot hasn’t spent much time with male actors. The gossip being circulated by a handful of young B-level male actors concerns the casting of a major film, the latest instalment of a successful thriller franchise. According to these catty young men, the only reason a semi- popular young actor landed a part in the movie is thanks to his sibling’s closeness to the A-lister heading the film, and especially his family.
It’s probably a case of sour grapes for those spreading the story, given that most young actors would’ve given an arm to be cast alongside the superstar in what will likely be another blockbuster.