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Lucrative Liaison

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Lucrative Liaison • Koffee with Khan • A Friendship Lapsed
For all the bitching and moaning during the making of Ek Tha Tiger, it appears that director Kabir Khan will work again with his blockbuster hero Salman Khan. During promotions for his latest film Jai Ho, the actor revealed he has committed to star in Kabir’s next, although no start date has been locked for the project yet. Salman is currently filming Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick, and will move on to Boney Kapoor’s No Entry sequel and Sooraj Barjatya’s next. Kabir is busy completing Phantom with Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif.

Kabir and Salman famously had trouble while working on Ek Tha Tiger, neither able to adjust to the other’s working style during the first schedule. Salman has even admitted that producer Aditya Chopra had to intervene when things came to a head. Apparently, Salman envisioned the film as “an out-and-out masala thriller”, whereas Kabir would’ve preferred to take a docu-drama approach, particularly to the film’s espionage portions. According to Salman, it was Aditya who encouraged them to find a middle ground, one that both actor and director were comfortable with.

The film’s colossal box-office success reportedly washed away whatever quibbles the two may have still had with each other, and Salman has told friends he likes Kabir’s “grand ideas” and “his slick approach to action”. He finds it a refreshing change from the South-style exaggerated fight scenes he’s been doing in the string of Telugu remakes he’s been in recently.

The big hiccup, when Salman and Kabir work together again, could well be the casting of the female lead. Kabir’s soft spot for Katrina Kaif is no secret—Phantom is the third film he’s directed her in, after New York and Ek Tha Tiger—but it’s anybody’s guess whether Salman will continue to work with Katrina now that they are no longer a couple—and are unlikely to be in the future, given that Kat is earnestly dating Ranbir Kapoor.

Koffee with Khan

It turns out Shah Rukh Khan may show up on Koffee With Karan after all. The star, who appeared in the first episode of every previous season of the talk show hosted by once bum-chum Karan Johar, was robbed of that honour this season in favour of Karan’s “new good friend” Salman Khan.

Salman and Shah Rukh, once good friends themselves, famously fell out some years ago over a heated argument at Katrina Kaif’s birthday party. Since then, battle lines have been drawn and common friends expected to take sides. Karan, who’d worked with Salman in his debut film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in 1998, had pledged his loyalty to Shah Rukh, his friend and subsequently co-producer and business partner.

But their relationship reportedly soured sometime last year, when Karan directed Student of the Year, his first film not starring SRK. The rift widened when the star allegedly began distancing himself from old trusted friends and managers, and surrounded himself with ‘new people’. Though Karan and Shah Rukh have maintained a façade of friendship in public, friends of both insist they are contemptuous of each other in private.

Yet sources involved with the show reveal that overtures have been made to welcome Shah Rukh on the season finale. The actor, currently busy filming Farah Khan’s Happy New Year in Mumbai with Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan and Boman Irani, has apparently said ‘yes’, he’ll do it, but hasn’t committed a date yet.

A Friendship Lapsed

Another friendship in tinseltown appears to have gone bust. These two male actors who once took holidays together with their families and didn’t miss any opportunity to party as a group, have distanced themselves from each other.

At a glamorous awards ceremony some months ago where one of the two stars was to be felicitated, his people reportedly made it clear to the organisers of the event that he wanted to be seated nowhere near the other star. The two men were to be kept at an arm’s length from one another, and even their appearances on the red carpet had to be carefully timed to avoid each other.

On occasions when they have bumped into each other, they have politely exchanged a few words—apparently for the sake of public decency—but friends will tell you that battle lines have been drawn. The artiste management company handling both stars has apparently dropped one of them because it makes the other more successful star uncomfortable that they’re being represented by the same people.

Their differences, close friends say, are personal and deeply complicated, and unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, if ever.