Not People Like Us

The Homely Girl is Much at Home

Rajeev Masand is entertainment editor at CNN News18
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Sports over Slapstick • Studio Prodigal’s Desperate Moves
Who’d have thought Salman Khan could go all red in the face when it came to romance? Well, apparently the Kick star is finding it hard to strike up a winning chemistry with Sonam Kapoor, his co-star in Sooraj Barjatya’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. Salman reportedly told Sonam that he finds it hard to look into her eyes and go all moony over her (even just for the sake of the camera) because she reminds him of her father Anil Kapoor. Ouch!

Sonam herself has said she has no problems pretending like she’s in love with Salman “because he’s sooooooo good looking.” It probably helped that she had worked with him earlier in her debut film, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya, in which Salman had a small cameo opposite her.

The actress has also revealed that she feels completely at home in the Rajshri film: “It’s the kind of wholesome family movie that I think I suit perfectly.” As it turns out, that role was famously offered to Deepika Padukone before it landed in Sonam’s lap; DP has told close friends she politely declined the offer because the script just didn’t work for her. Salman, meanwhile, has publicly declared that Sonam is the right choice for the film: “There’s something simple and homely about her. And that’s the kind of actress that fits into Sooraj’s films.”

‘Simple and homely’. Not sure Sonam’s smiling now… is she?

Sports over Slapstick

John Abraham recently returned from Abu Dhabi, where he joined Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Naseeruddin Shah and Shruti Haasan for the shooting of Welcome Back, in which he replaces Akshay Kumar as the male lead. John was reportedly roped in when producer Firoz Nadiadwala fell out with his old pal Akshay over money issues.

Slapstick comedy isn’t John’s forte—a fact that became painfully clear in Sajid Khan’s Housefull 2— but in Welcome Back, the actor apparently saw an opportunity to top-line a big-budget multi-starrer film, and succumbed when Mr Moneybags, Firoz, dangled a fat pay-cheque before him.

It’s clear, however, that John is more excited working on Force director Nishikant Kamat’s next, and Shoojit Sircar’s period film that’ll likely go on the floors after the director wraps the Amitabh Bachchan- Deepika Padukone project that he’s currently filming. John’s film with Shoojit, their follow-up to last year’s Madras Cafe, is the true-life story of Kolkata’s now-legendary Mohan Bagan football club and its historic victory against the East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911.

The actor’s love for football is no secret; in fact he recently acquired a sizeable stake in the NorthEast United FC team of the Indian Super League(ISL), which kicked off last week. John roped in popular singer-composer Papon to create an anthem for his team, and has apparently promised to boost his team’s morale by travelling with them throughout the ISL.

Studio Prodigal’s Desperate Moves

They may go hoarse in the face insisting that they’ve delivered a hit in their recent overpriced actioner, but the trade is sniggering at this studio’s inflated box-office numbers and its refusal to accept that recovery of investment is an unlikelihood in the case of their latest film. Insiders at the studio are closely watching the desperate measures that the honchos must take to maximise revenues.

Turns out the marketing department had lined up a cross-promotional tie- up with a leading electronics brand for the film, and had received roughly a dozen high-end smart- phones and tablets as part of the deal. As the bosses scurried around looking for just about any means to bridge the wide gap between the film’s landing cost and its collections, one smart-alec executive reportedly came up with the bright idea to sell off these electronic items received in lieu of the deal and add the money received from the sale to the film’s recovery numbers. A junior was apparently entrusted with the responsibility of signing up on a popular trading website and peddling the items.

The amount from the sale, as you can imagine, will likely be peanuts, given the film’s ridiculously high budget. But this incident is clearly a good indication of just how pressed-to-the-wall the studio is over this expensive folly of a film.