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Rajeev Masand is Entertainment Editor and film critic at CNN-IBN

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From Silukku to MS

From Silukku to MS • Losing the Zombie War • Nothing’s for Free
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Saif reportedly volunteered to make a special appearance in the film when it became clear that the project needed a big-name star to justify its substantial budget.

Vidya Balan appears to have found her next film. If the grapevine is to be trusted, the actress has committed to starring in Tamil filmmaker Rajiv Menon’s biopic of legendary Carnatic classical singer MS Subbulakshmi.

Menon, who has directed such refreshingly original Tamil films as Minasara Kanavu (dubbed into Hindi as Sapnay) and Kandukondain Kandukondain, is reportedly in talks with financiers over the funding of the film, which is expected to be a lavish musical. Balan, who is believed to be a big fan of the late artiste, is likely to dive into Menon’s project after wrapping up Shaadi Ke Side Effects opposite Farhan Akhtar, and her Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh’s next film.

Some years ago, Menon was trying to put together an Abhimaan remake with Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, but that film never happened even after talk that Shah Rukh Khan would replace Abhishek.

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Losing the Zombie War

According to the industry grapevine, everyone from actor Kunal Khemu to directors Krishna DK and Raj Nidimoru is feeling demoralised and disappointed by Saif Ali Khan’s alleged lack of interest in their zombie comedy Go Goa Gone, which the Shor in the City director-duo are helming for Saif’s production company Illuminati Films.

Saif reportedly volunteered to make a special appearance in the film when it became clear that the project needed a big-name star to justify its substantial budget. But sources in the unit reveal that the actor-producer has repeatedly dilly-dallied with dates, causing a significant delay in the film’s production. Now, the movie is more or less complete, except for the scenes to be filmed with Saif. Khemu, who is dating Saif’s sister Soha Ali Khan, brought the film to Saif two years ago, when the directors approached him to star in the film, but admitted that they didn’t have the funds to put the project together. Saif’s involvement saw Go Goa Gone take off the ground, but now the actor-producer himself may be responsible for grounding it.

The unit is also believed to be upset because another film in a similar space—popular veejay Luke Kenny’s Rise of the Zombie—has beaten them to the finish line, despite having gone into production after their film. Kenny’s film is slated to release in February, even as the crew of Go Goa Gone continues to wait for Saif to grace their set with his presence.

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Nothing’s for Free

There isn’t much you can get a film star to do for free these days, aside from participating in the occasional charitable event. A prominent NGO dedicated to raising money for women’s causes landed a coup when they were able to rope in a former beauty queen and film actress to walk the ramp for their annual fashion show recently. Apparently, it took a lot of coaxing from the chief patron of the cause, a star-struck film producer’s wife, to get the reclusive actress to commit to making an appearance for gratis.

When she did show up a few hours before the big show at a suburban five-star hotel, where the event was to take place, the actress was accompanied by an entourage of five, including a make-up man, a hairdresser, two personal assistants and a spot-boy. Even as she hit the green room and busied herself with costume fittings, her staff reportedly ordered milkshakes and sandwiches from room service, much to the horror of the event organisers, who looked on helplessly.

As the evening progressed, many rounds of tea and coffee were ordered by the actress’ staff, and after the fashion show was done, she decided to treat herself to a filling meal.

Naturally, the actress didn’t settle the bill charged to her room when she left. That was for the organisers to take care of. When they asked for the bill, they were shocked to discover that the star and her staff had notched up a bill of Rs 19,000 in a few hours.