Better Late and Later

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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Better Late and Later • The Walk-outs • Catching the Roving Eye

Despite his best efforts, it appears that Saif Ali Khan is unlikely to meet his December deadline for Agent Vinod, which industry insiders are saying is now likely to arrive in cinemas early next year. The ambitious spy thriller directed by Sriram Raghavan has been in production for a good two years now, and its intended release dates have repeatedly shifted since the summer. The film had finally been locked in for a 9 December bow.

Although producer-star Saif has denied that the film went over-budget during its endless production period, the film’s financier, Eros International, has reportedly been sweating over its Rs 50 crore-plus price tag. Given that Saif hasn’t had a solo release since Kurbaan in 2009, and that his last hit was all the way back in Love Aaj Kal, one can see why industry experts don’t see him as the likeliest candidate to pull off such an expensive actioner. Yet, those who’ve seen the rushes of Raghavan’s elaborate set pieces are visibly excited.

Which is why a shift in release to early January or February 2012 may not be such a bad thing. For one, the 9 December release date is already crowded with two other films—the Ranveer Singh-Anushka Sharma rom-com Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and Players, the Abbas-Mustan directed remake of The Italian Job, starring Abhishek Bachchan, Bobby Deol, Bipasha Basu and Sonam Kapoor.

Most of the shoot on Agent Vinod is complete, although leading lady Kareena Kapoor (who is responsible for delaying the film by giving away shoot dates to Bodyguard and Ra.One) is yet to finish her portions. The bulk of the remaining work involves post-production, say insiders, citing substantial special effects and action scenes clean-up as the cause for delay.

How this is likely to affect Saif and Kareena’s February nuptials is not known yet, but Saif was adamant from the start that the wedding would happen only after getting Agent Vinod out of the way.

The Walk-outs

Arjun Rampal is reportedly upset with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for derailing Heroine, for which he had allocated bulk dates. The actor is believed to have turned down other films so he could complete Madhur Bhandarkar’s film opposite Aishwarya at one go, but after the plug was pulled on the film as a result of the actress’ pregnancy, Arjun is sitting at home and twiddling his thumbs.

Turns out he’s now signed a Sudhir Mishra film opposite Chitrangda Singh, which he’ll start shooting soon. The dusky star of Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi, meanwhile, also has a sudden hole in her schedule after walking out of Rakesh Roshan’s Krrish sequel, in which she was to play a grey character opposite Vivek Oberoi.

The story goes that Chitrangda realised the part was minuscule compared to Priyanka Chopra’s lead, and then balked when she heard that most of her scenes were with Vivek, who plays the villain, and not the film’s leading man, Hrithik Roshan. She’s been promptly replaced by Jacqueline Fernandes, who it seems has no problem working with Vivek. Given the fact that Vivek had himself circulated the rumour a few years ago that he’d had a fling with Jacqueline even before the release of her first film, she might want to think long and hard before doing a movie with him.

Catching the Roving Eye

This married male star, well known for his roving eye, was heard telling friends that he’s keen to do a movie with this A-list actress, who has been romantically linked to virtually every actor she has worked with. Currently, she’s in the news for allegedly being the third wheel in the marriage of Bollywood’s most popular superstar, with whom she has a few films in the pipeline.

Curious to know exactly what it is about her that makes even committed men go weak in the knees, this successful action star has reportedly sent feelers to the actress about working together in the near future.

Not that this serial cheater isn’t getting enough action already. Industry insiders say his wife has become so inured to stories of his affairs that she’s agreed to turn a blind eye to his philandering as long as he doesn’t bring his dirty linen home, and as long as he continues to be a responsible husband and father on home turf.