With her long-gestation project, Happy New Year, finally scheduled to go on the floors in December, the film’s director, Farah Khan, is reportedly neck deep in finalising her cast. The film’s premise apparently involves a group of friends, bad dancers each, who must participate in and win the World Dance Championship. It’s no secret that Shah Rukh Khan, Boman Irani, Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham are more or less confirmed as the four male leads. It’s the film’s sole female lead who is yet to be cast, one hears.
Assistants working on the project reveal that the film’s heroine is to play a Bhandup bar dancer, who will join the men’s dance troupe for the championship. Despite early rumours that Priyanka Chopra was a shoo-in to land the part, word from the Red Chillies office is that the filmmakers are now thinking of other girls. Katrina Kaif was considered, but reportedly dismissed because “nothing about her says Bhandup”, and Kareena Kapoor “doesn’t have that freshness anymore”. Vidya Balan’s name cropped up too, but she was allegedly passed over because “she’s not in the shape they’d have liked her to be in”, and Deepika Padukone (“despite lobbying hard for the role”) doesn’t work because she’s already doing Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express opposite SRK, which is likely to release just before Happy New Year.
Now it appears that Farah and Shah Rukh are hemming and hawing between two young ladies. The first is apparently Sonakshi Sinha, who Farah worked with recently on her husband Shirish Kunder’s film, Joker. The second—surprise, surprise—is Parineeti Chopra, who appears to have dazzled everyone with her solid acting chops. Insiders say both girls are likely to be screen-tested for the role extensively before Farah and SRK take the final call. Expect an announcement in a few weeks.
The Return of Priyanka
Priyanka Chopra may no longer be in the running for Happy New Year, but it seems she may have replaced Kareena Kapoor in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela opposite Ranveer Singh. If that is true (nobody’s confirming just yet), it’ll be a big feather in the cap for PC, who only yesterday was being written off after her public fall-out with Karan Johar and her alleged ‘problems’ with Bollywood’s Star Wives’ Club.
There are many theories floating around about why Kareena left Bhansali’s film, although the actress’ close friends say the film’s shooting schedules clashed with Kareena’s October marriage to Saif Ali Khan and the honeymoon they’ve planned to take right after. Another version is that Kareena just couldn’t adjust to Bhansali’s moody behaviour and tantrums. Whatever be the reason, Priyanka does appear to have benefitted from the situation.
Surprisingly, there is talk in the trade that Priyanka is also being seriously considered to star opposite Imran Khan in Punit Malhotra’s next, which will be produced by Karan Johar. I Hate Luv Storys director Malhotra was always clear that he was looking to cast a heroine who hadn’t worked with Imran before, which rules out usual suspects like Katrina, Kareena, Deepika and Sonam. And now that Karan Johar and Priyanka have reportedly called a truce, word on the street is that she just could be the one they’ll cast opposite Imran.
It’s true what they say about Bollywood—nothing is permanent here. Neither friendships, nor enmities.
Smitten, Again and Again
His movies reveal his soft, sensitive side, and if rumours are to be believed, he’s as much a romantic himself as the characters he writes. This married A-list filmmaker is the subject of much gossip in Bollywood currently for his alleged relationship with an actress from across the border, who’s famously trying her luck in Hindi movies.
There were murmurs earlier too that he might have been involved with a pretty newcomer he introduced in his last film, but those stories quickly died a natural death when his leading man hooked up with the actress.
News of his latest link-up, however, seems to be the only thing filmwallas are talking about these days. And it turns out that the gentleman in question really doesn’t care. Apparently, he’s smitten, and nothing else matters.