Not People Like Us

The Leading Role Nobody Wants

Rajeev Masand is Entertainment Editor and film critic at CNN-IBN
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Getting Her Ducks in a Row • In Desperate Need of a Comeback Flick
There’s a catty story doing the rounds in Bollywood circles about Fanaa director Kunal Kohli and his hunt for a leading lady for his new film Phir Se, which will star—umm—himself as the leading man. Turns out that before Kunal cast television actress Jennifer Winget to star opposite him in this love story between two divorcees, he’d approached a bunch of A-listers for the project.

He reportedly took meetings with leading star managers, including big-gun Reshma Shetty of Matrix, who represents Katrina Kaif, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Madhuri Dixit among others. At the time, Kunal wasn’t ready to divulge that he was starring in the film himself, and revealed only that he’d cast “a prominent Bollywood name who’s making his acting debut”.

By the time it became known that Kunal wasn’t just going to direct the film, he’d be playing the male lead in the movie too, any interest the top actresses may have had in exploring the offer apparently vanished, leaving him to scour the small screen for potential leads.

Getting Her Ducks in a Row

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who’s been sitting it out since 2010, will likely have a busy year ahead. The actress has reportedly green-lit a handful of movies that she’ll begin filming in the new year. First, there’s Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa, an official remake of the Korean thriller Seven Days, for which she’s expected to begin a gruelling workout regimen. Earlier this week, Karan Johar announced that he’s cast Ash in his Ranbir Kapoor-Anushka Sharma starrer Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which he’ll film in Delhi, London, Paris and New York. Ash will reportedly play an older woman that Ranbir’s character gets into an intense relationship with. There are also talks about a film with her mentor Mani Ratnam, and one Balaji project opposite Saif Ali Khan to be directed by Kahaani’s Sujoy Ghosh.

Gupta has said he’s keen to wrap production on Jazbaa as early as April 2014 so he can unveil the project at Cannes in May, where Aishwarya will flog global cosmetic brand L’Oréal. For Johar’s film, her scenes will be shot in London next summer.

There have also been some murmurs that Aishwarya is Rohit Shetty’s final choice to star opposite Shah Rukh Khan in the Chennai Express director’s remake of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi. It’s no secret that Shetty had been discussing the project originally with his Singham star Ajay Devgn’s missus Kajol, but it appears now that Ash may take that role.

With her daughter Aaradhya a little older now, Aishwarya has told friends she’s itching to get back to the sets. She hasn’t entirely given up the idea of English movies either, but has clearly said she will not set up base in Los Angeles, where it’s easier to pursue a Hollywood film career.

In Desperate Need of a Comeback Flick

A prominent male star who suffered a crippling blow recently with the abysmal failure of his latest film, has been calling up industry bigwigs for advice on what his next move ought to be. His latest release was his fourth consecutive turkey, and the opening weekend collections of his films have been consistently declining—the new one taking in numbers so paltry that a rival star asked snarkily if a zero had accidentally gone missing from the figure. No wonder the poor actor appears to be seeking words of wisdom from experienced film industry folks on how to conduct his career hereon.

He called upon an A-list producer-director who’s a close friend of his wife, to help understand what might have gone wrong with his last release, a film that was in the actor’s comfort zone. Apparently he has also been leaning on a superstar actor friend for guidance on how to navigate what’s left of his career.

Good thing he has a sense of humour that sees him through these challenging phases. The actor apparently told his friends he could always get a fancy corporate job if the acting gig doesn’t work out anymore. “I am, after all, well qualified, with a foreign degree… something I must thank my parents for ensuring that I pursued,” he’s believed to have joked. Fortunately for him, it’s unlikely that the curtains will come down on his career just yet. He has at least two big films slated for release in the months ahead— both done with promising directors—which may turn it around.

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