3 years

Not People Like Us

Big Player No More

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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Big Player No More • That’s Kinda Shady, Kareena • Bitter Koffee Break

Bobby Deol is feeling betrayed by his mentors Abbas-Mustan, it appears. The actor, who’s done several films with the Men in White, is apparently upset that he’s got lower billing than both Abhishek Bachchan and Neil Nitin Mukesh in this week’s Players. That’s the reason he hasn’t participated in any promotions for the film, and is mostly missing from the television trailers and songs too.

Having worked with them in as many as four films previously—Soldier, Ajnabee, Humraaz and Naqaab—Bobby has famously regarded the Burmawala Brothers as family. Which is why, he’s been telling friends, he agreed to do Players, a remake of The Italian Job, despite knowing it was an ensemble piece. Not one to confront them, Bobby has said he withdrew into his own shell, hurt and disappointed at the betrayal.

Abbas-Mustan, for their part, have blamed the studio for the decision to underplay Bobby’s presence in the film. The directors insist the studio releasing the film wanted to focus on Abhishek, Neil, Sonam Kapoor and Bipasha Basu, while choosing to leave Bobby and Sikander Kher out in the cold. A source at the studio, meanwhile, requesting anonymity, has said it was strictly a business decision, given that Bobby Deol is no longer the big marquee name he was. “It’s got nothing to do with betrayal and relationships. This is an expensive film, and we have to do what’s good for the movie,” our source points out, explaining that it made better market sense to focus on Abhishek, Neil and the girls.

That’s Kinda Shady, Kareena

Remember how a source on the sets of Ramgopal Varma’s Sarkaar Raj leaked information that Aishwarya Rai bought expensive designer shades as part of her costume for the movie, billed it to the production, then took the glasses home? Well, now there’s almost identical gossip involving Kareena Kapoor.

A source within Illuminati Films (Saif Ali Khan’s production company) reveals that Kareena billed the production for a few expensive sunglasses she bought as part of her wardrobe for Agent Vinod. Given that her fiancé is the producer of the film, Kareena reportedly thought it was okay for the production to pick up the tab, although she kept the glasses for herself after the shoot. Meanwhile, the film, whose budget has ballooned considerably over the past year due to a never-ending shooting and post-production process, has been nicknamed Ageing Vinod by smart-alec insiders.

Bitter Koffee Break

For some months now, there have been murmurs that all’s not well between an A-list male star and his close filmmaker buddy. The duo has delivered a string of popular hits together and is considered one of the most successful professional pairings in recent times, apart from being as close as family.

When the filmmaker announced his latest project some months ago, the industry was surprised that it didn’t feature his actor friend. Troublemakers were quick to spread stories that the actor (who’d been going through a career low at the time) was so down and out that even his best friend wasn’t making movies with him anymore.

Turns out, the actor has in fact taken it personally, and might be sulking. There’s been no great falling out or screaming match between them, however. The director remains particularly close to the actor’s wife, and still swears loyalty to his actor pal, even if he’s decided to work with a younger cast on his new film.

Insiders say the actor’s hurt stems not just from being left out of the filmmaker’s new movie, but also from the fact that his Mr Congeniality director friend has developed warm relations with two or three of his biggest rivals—including two top stars around his own age, and one younger star who’s being tomtommed as his replacement on the popularity charts.

The director, meanwhile, has repeatedly told friends that no one can take the A-lister’s place in his life. He’s explained that he may be a social animal, but his loyalties lie firmly with his old friend. Apparently, he even spent New Year’s Eve with the actor and his family.