Not Just a River in Egypt

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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Not Just a River in Egypt • The Tick-Off Queen • Severed Umbilical

If you’re wondering why film stars tend to make the same mistakes—or the same kind of terrible films—over and over again, you only have to look at their responses to failure for the answer. Ranbir Kapoor stepped out for a media event last week for the first time since the Besharam debacle, evidently expecting to be asked about the film and it’s complete rejection by the very audience that celebrated Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani only months ago. In his characteristic cool demeanour, when asked how he felt about the film’s failure, Ranbir said he didn’t regret signing Besharam. “Every film can’t be a hit,” he added cleverly, but appeared unwilling to concede that he’d made a bad decision. Ego? Maybe.

While chatting with Sunny Deol a few days ago, I couldn’t not bring up the recent failure of Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, but the actor wouldn’t talk about it. “I try not to think of it at all,” he said. But surely there were lessons to be learnt, I prodded. “Best not to dwell in the past,” he responded. Refusing to drop the subject, I tried a different approach. Cut from the same cloth as films like Chennai Express, Rowdy Rathore and Ready, wasn’t he surprised Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 didn’t work while the others did? “I try not to watch such films because they make me mad, and I can’t possibly tell this to the actors and the directors who made those films.” Deluded? Maybe.

Whoever said that admission of failure was the first step towards not repeating mistakes has obviously never met a Bollywood movie star.

The Tick-Off Queen

Jaya Bachchan’s dressing down of photographers who called out to her bahu Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, asking her to pose for them at an event, is quickly becoming the most viewed YouTube video among filmwalas. As Aishwarya and ma-in-law Jaya made their way into Hard Rock Café to attend a party hosted by Subhash Ghai, cameramen gathered on the other side of the red carpet urged the Devdas star to stop for a moment so they could take a few pictures. Their big mistake? That they called out to her, um, by her first name. “Aishwarya, Aishwarya,” they repeated as she headed inside, trying to get her attention. To which a visibly irritated Mrs Bachchan Sr snapped “Aishwarya kya hota hai? (What do you mean ‘Aishwarya’?) She’s your school friend?”

Puzzled photographers couldn’t figure out what they’d done wrong, and even Aishwarya couldn’t hold back a chuckle. Perhaps Jaya Bachchan can enlighten us. How would you like us to address her, Ma’am? And speaking of Mrs B’s temper tantrums, you only have to type the words ‘Jaya Bachchan’ and ‘angry’ into a YouTube search for an entire playlist of the senior star’s previous outbursts at media people.

Severed Umbilical

It is no secret that there’s been a massive falling out between a director who made one of this year’s earliest hits, and the young star who debuted in that film. Few, however, may be aware of the exact reason their relationship went sour.

After the success of their movie together, the filmmaker promptly signed up the actor for his next project, but the young star, who is currently represented by the artiste management arm of a leading film studio, signed on other projects whose dates directly clashed with those he’d allocated to his mentor’s film. Industry insiders reveal that a heated argument took place between the director and the actor, when the former learnt that he now had to negotiate the star’s dates with his new managers. Feeling underappreciated and betrayed, the director reportedly tried to explain to the actor that it was unfair that he had to get through ‘handlers’ to reach the star. He’s also believed to have complained that he shouldn’t have to reschedule his shooting plan because the actor had gone ahead and signed other films.

Unfortunately for him, the star appears happy with his new management and is no mood to upset the apple cart. He allegedly conveyed to the director that he was still very interested in doing his movie, only they would have to look at new shooting dates so he could accommodate the other films in his schedule. Hurt, the director decided to replace the actor in his film immediately, and has apparently stopped speaking to him.

All very well, but it’ll be interesting to see how the director and young star behave with each other publicly, especially during the upcoming awards season where they’re likely to bump into each other while going up to receive trophies for their last film together.