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The Birthday Party Without Exes

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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The Birthday Party Without Exes • A Nineties’ Story Revisited • The Superstar’s Crisis Coach
Days after it was learnt that John Abraham had married girlfriend Priya Runchal in Los Angeles on their Christmas break, Bipasha Basu brought in her 35th birthday with boyfriend Harman Baweja and her closest friends on Monday night. At a surprise party thrown by her sisters at her Bandra home, the Jism star, dressed in a pink blouse and green skirt, sporting a tiara on her head, blew out the candles on her red velvet cake as guests were treated to jell-o shots and a sumptuous Bengali spread.

Filmi attendees included Bipasha’s Bachna Ae Haseeno director Siddharth Anand, and her Jodi Breakers co-star R Madhavan, both accompanied by their respective wives. Her closest pals Rocky S, Deanne Pandey and Dipannita Sharma turned up, as did Sophie Choudhary, and Harman’s Dishkiyaoon producers Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra, with Shamita Shetty. Conspicuous by their absence were Bipasha’s exes Milind Soman, Dino Morea and Shahid Kapoor, who’d all attended her Diwali party only months ago.

Her parents, who were present but kept a low profile, reportedly told her friends they approved of Harman, “because he treats our daughter right”. The young man in question, cheerfully mingled with Bipasha’s friends and encouraged guests to top up their drinks when he spotted empty glasses.

A Nineties’ Story Revisited

It appears that the Sidharth Malhotra-Parineeti Chopra starrer Hasee Toh Phasee, which releases in February, may be a modern-day rom-com version of the 1993 melodrama Aaina. Who’d have thought?

That film, about a pushy woman who makes a play for the man her younger sister loves, starred Amrita Singh and Juhi Chawla as siblings competing for the affections of Jackie Shroff. A showcase for the acting skills of its two leading ladies (who had been pitted as rivals in another triangular romance only the previous year—Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman with Shah Rukh Khan), Aaina famously offered no scope for Jackie to make his presence felt. And now there are murmurs that the same may be true of Hasee Toh Phasee, which was reportedly offered to Vicky Donor star Ayushmann Khurrana, before producer Karan Johar decided it would make a fitting second film for his discovery, Sidharth.

Ayushmann, who was approached for the film before Nautanki Saala bombed in April last year, has told friends he turned down the film because it was quite clearly a starring vehicle for Parineeti, and because it didn’t have much in it for him to do. The role of the second sister, meanwhile, is played by Adah Sharma, who previously starred in two Vikram Bhatt duds (1920 and Phhir), and also last year’s washout Hum Hain Raahi Car Ke.

The Superstar’s Crisis Coach

It appears that this A-list male star has recruited the services of a ‘life coach’ recently to help him tide over trying times in his personal life. The superstar reportedly shells out Rs 5 lakh a month to the gentleman for his services; his mother and sister have also employed the coach to help them with their own ‘challenges’, for which he is paid separately.

A close friend of the star says the coach advises the actor “on how to keep his head clear and focus on what’s important”. He frequently travels with the actor on outstation shoots, flying business class on the star’s or his producer’s account. He is responsible for keeping the star’s mood elevated “during any and every dark phase” and creates exercises for the actor to stay perennially positive.

The actor’s staff and close friends have also noticed that the coach exploits his access to rich and powerful folk he encounters through his association with the star. On one occasion, when he was introduced to a leading Congress politician in Delhi while travelling with the actor, the coach spent the evening impressing the neta and succeeded in making an appointment with the bigwig and his wife the next day to explain his services.

When the actor returned from a personal trip to the US a few weeks ago, the coach—who hadn’t travelled with him this time—promptly showed up at his home just hours after his arrival, ready to resume his job. While the star appears perfectly content with the gentleman’s involvement in his life, his friends have allegedly been grumbling that the actor is being taken for a ride.