Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hrithik and Kajol launch miniature dolls amongst great fanfare

At 0758 I am polishing off a piece of toast when I receive the message I’ve been waiting for: ‘All people in cars en route to hotel’ it reads, indicating that the manic day that lies ahead has begun. Today is the day that Indian cinema invades the most British of department stores and arrives in true royal regalia.Two hours later I’m greeted by Shameen Jivraj, the brainchild behind Bollywood Legends, a brand and innovative new range of dolls based on leading actors from Indian cinema, that is causing a stir in the toy industry. Wearing a pink jacket, beige skirt and looking radiant with glee, she gives me a warm hug as we stride to the hotel where India’s leading actor is at. He arrived this morning and is leaving this evening, so has flown in just for the launch of the Bollywood Legends dolls and will be accompanied by an actress who is as popular as he is, in India and overseas. As we ring the bell for Suite 521, Shameen takes a deep breath and looks at me, smiling. “It’s a big day and I just want everything to go perfectly,” she says with a slightly worried look in her eyes. Today is the historic launch of the dolls in London at Harrods Toy Kingdom, which has been transformed into a Bollywood Haven for one day only. The actors are here to directly introduce the dolls to their fans and thank them for coming by signing as many dolls as they can within the time allocated. “Hey!” says a familiar voice that is always upbeat, positive and a delight to hear. Hrithik Roshan is India’s leading actor who has recently starred in the blockbuster Krrish, which marked the on-screen arrival of India’s first superhero, and has notched up an enviable variety of roles within the short span of six years which has covered his debut to meteoric rise. His name alone causes swoons from the faint-hearted and he is a hard-working, dedicated actor whose only competition is himself in his last film. “It’s so good to see you again,” he says enveloping me in the bear hug that he’s always ready to give, no matter how tired or burnt out he is. “Shameen – you’re looking great!” he says as he shifts focus on the woman who has had an incredible journey herself which culminates in this day when her dream becomes a reality. Despite a long flight and a gruelling shooting schedule, Hrithik looks fresh dressed in a white tee shirt and denims, with brown boots that creep out from beneath his jeans like welcoming snakes. He may not have come out of a Western, but he’s certainly conquered the East and West and proved he’s the lone cowboy who can ride into town and leave with everyone’s hearts. He has been working for 22 hours straight before taking his flight to London where he is completely busy for the 14 hours that he’s here for, and for him work typically includes a rigorous dance schedule, rehearsals, photo sessions and acting while trying to work out in between it all. He tells me of how excited he is about ‘Dhoom 2’ because of how hard everyone’s working to make it look so aesthetically perfect, and also how tired he is from the flight and punishing schedule. I smile and put my hand on his shoulder, telling him “pain is momentary, film is forever,” to which he smiles and shoots back a look that says ‘yeah I know, who’s complaining? I was just telling you!’ Shameen goes through some last minute details and then before we know it we’re in the lobby watching Kajol walk out of the elevator like the sunshine itself has taken form and is edging towards us, with stars on each side to boot. Draped in a sunflower yellow sari and with silver pearl earrings embracing each ear, she quite simply looks stunning. Her eyes sparkling brighter than the earrings that dance to either side of her, I can honestly say she has never looked as good as she does today and the hotel staff agree as they can’t take their eyes off her. As she greets Shameen, she smiles, lighting up the whole of the area around her and for a moment everyone is dazzled by her beauty yet trying to concentrate on where they need to be. The decision to lead Kajol outside first helps as the rest of us manage to compose ourselves and before long we’re on our way to Trevor Square where a horse and carriage await to take the two icons to the entrance of Harrods in true traditional English style. Travelling ahead, I am taken aback by the number of people who are waiting outside Harrods, hoping to get a view of their favourite stars when they arrive. Moments later they are being brought into the VIP area which is now completely surrounded by photographers, press, fans and shoppers, all of whom are clambering to catch a glimpse of the two stars. Descending from the carriage, Hrithik and Kajol are presented with welcoming garlands by two fans who have won a competition to meet their favourite stars and it is clear that they shine brightest when greeted by fans. They smile, wave, shake hands, sign autographs, pose for photographs all as they walk around to meet those who have waited to see their screen icons. If Tom Cruise is infamous for his long walkabouts where he greets fans, Indian cinema goes two steps better as these young stars do everything they can to ensure everyone in sight has a smile on their face. After slowly going around the crowd, a bagpipe procession leads them through the store and up to the fourth floor where they are taken to the front of an already overcrowded Toy Kingdom. There they are welcomed warmly by a senior spokesperson from Harrods before they take the microphone themselves to tell the ecstatic and eager fans how pleased they were to be at Harrods for the event and to see so many people. A signing session follows which is accompanied by pandemonium as fans scream, cheer and cry at the sight of their screen idols, with some being led outside for fresh air after having their breath taken away from being so close to the real life Bollywood legends. The dolls are studied just as much as the stars with shoppers buying handfuls and proudly showing them off. Hrithik and Kajol’s dolls disappear off shelves like lightning but fans leave saying they would have to return soon to complete the collection. After the signing, it’s straight into press interviews where the two stars talk to no end about the dolls, the film industry and how unique an opportunity this product provides to take Bollywood into homes everywhere. They also speak about the day so far and how much they’re enjoying it, often describing it as surreal and a lot of fun. At a packed press conference, Hrithik describes how he felt about his very own doll and the launch at Harrods. “There are some moments in life that only come once like looking into the eyes of your newborn child and seeing happiness and peace personified. Another is when you look into the eyes of your own doll!” he says causing the whole room to erupt in laughter. “It’s indescribable because it’s strange and overwhelming and wonderful all at once. And it’s all thanks to Shameen’s dedication, love and astonishing inspiration.” “It’s an honour to have your own doll,” adds Kajol. “When Shameen approached me it all seemed bizarre as I thought legends were supposed to be dead, so it feels strange to be called a Bollywood Legend, but is an experience in itself.” When asked about the advent of film merchandising and why she agreed to be immortalised in plastic, Kajol responded: “We went with the dolls because it’s another way to connect with our fans. We have movies, ads and our interviews but the dolls are a personal thing you can take home.” Shameen adds that she felt the dolls represented much more than a piece of movie merchandising. “My vision is to take children’s favourite Bollywood stars and give them their own replica of them. For them to re-enact scenes with the dolls from their favourite movies, to become their friends, share secrets with them and do all the things you would with normal dolls. I hope it’ll be a magical experience for them.” When Hrithik is asked if he felt the doll resembled him, his eyes widen as he replies “definitely! It’s a mini-me!”. With the press conference wrapped up, Kajol heads back to the hotel to rest after two full days of promotion, and Hrithik begins preparing for his flight back which is just a few hours away. The event has been hectic and generated excitement and frenzy leaving many fans overjoyed as they met their screen idols then got to take home their own miniature version. Two of Indian cinema’s brightest stars came to London for one day only and stopped traffic, arrived in style, left an indelible mark and made history. After the event, echoes of cheering fans calling out to their idols still rings through the Toy Kingdom despite the stage now being empty and the area reserved for welcoming the icons being just another corner overlooking the department. The magic of Bollywood came, saw and conquered today and the ultimate memento of the glitz, glamour and hard work is on toy shelves everywhere. Take the magic home, re-create your favourite moments from the big screen and create new ones that are special to you: the Bollywood Legends have arrived and are about to change the world (and toy industry) forever.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ajay Devgan finds his Sita

According to reports in a tabloid, Raj Kumar Santoshi's magnum opus RAMAYAN is budgeted at Rs 90 crore. He has signed Ajay Devgan to play Ram and he was on the look out for Sita. After considering many actresses, he finally zeroed in on Kajol.
Santoshi and Ajay go back a long way. They have done films like KHAKEE, LAJJA, THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH etc. Infact the two are great buddies as well. Even the lovable couple Ajay-Kajol has done several films like RAJU CHACHA, PYAAR TO HONA HI THA, ISHQ etc together.
This is the first time they'll be working together (last being RAJU CHACHA) post marriage. It may be recalled that there was a buzz that the duo had also signed a film titled 50:50 earlier.
Kajol seems to have become very meticulous about choosing films post marriage. Well after her successful comeback in FANAA, one can only expect more!
Source :Glamsham

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ajay doesn't intervene in my work: Kajol

London: Bollywood's leading lady is now on Harrods’ shelves in London. The up-market department store in Knightsbridge is ready to release Bollywood star's dolls across the stores in UK.
CNN-IBN correspondent, Akansha Bannerjee spoke to Kajol to know her take on films, marriage, motherhood and the twelve-inch tall, miniature version of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’s Simran in Harrods.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

After Fanaa, Aamir-Kajol to rock again! :
While we are wondering whether the Aamir-Kajol chemistry will click on silver screen, some of the foreigners are pretty confident that it will!
Some of the US promoters have already signed Aamir and Kajol for an international concert that begins in October.
Reports claim that earlier Aamir was not willing to join but eventually agreed when he saw the amount offered to him. Kajol is making arrangements so that she can take her daughter along.
And there is someone else who will be accompanying the two on the tour! points for guessing! It's none other than hubby Ajay Devgan. But Devgan has been invited as the chief guest and will not be performing.
Aamir Khan and Kajol Bring Sparkle to `Fanaa': Bollywood Review

By Nabeel Mohideen
May 30 (Bloomberg) -- ``Fanaa'' would have been a very ordinary, even trite, love story but for its two lead actors. Aamir Khan and Kajol star opposite each other for the first time, creating a magic of their own and raising an ordinary bit of storytelling to the memorable.
The tale begins in Kashmir, where the blind Zooni Ali Beg, played by Kajol, is leaving the protective environs of her home for a week's trip to the national capital New Delhi. In the big, bad city, she and her friends meet the dangerously handsome guide Rehan Qadri, played by Khan.
Zooni and the guide get closer in a series of sequences in which much of the dialogue is poetry. Couplets are used to challenge and seduce as the sparks fly between the two characters and they fall in love.
Director Kunal Kohli, who also wrote the dialogue, keeps things nicely on the boil through the first, and best, third of the film. ``Fanaa (Destroyed by Love)'' turns darker after that sparkling beginning, and it's here, in the transition, that Kohli's inexperience shows.
The director, making his third feature and his first after the 2004 hit ``Hum Tum,'' opts for shoddy contrivance (including Zooni regaining her sight) to advance the plot and move his characters into place for the next half of the story, set back in Kashmir seven years later.
Poland, Kashmir
After the evocative opening montage shot in Kashmir, Kohli had to opt for a Poland covered in snow to stand in for the Himalayan region in the second half because of concerns over terrorism. This doesn't necessarily show but it takes away from the integrity of the film.
Kohli's story of doomed love is inextricably linked with the politics of Kashmir but, while some of the characters do venture into speechifying, he stays away from the polemic.
This is Kajol's comeback film, following a five-year hiatus after marriage to fellow actor Ajay Devgan and motherhood. She still has the ability to light up the screen with ease, making her one of the few leading ladies who can more than match Khan's method-driven prowess.
Coming so soon after his surprise February hit, ``Rang de Basanti,'' there are scenes in the first half of ``Fanaa'' where Khan looks jaded in the face of Kajol's artless performance. He's in better control in the second half, during which there are some great scenes between the two leads.
``Fanaa,'' gorgeously shot by Ravi K. Chandran, should have been cut by at least 30 minutes and the director ought to have simplified and strengthened his plot devices. Kohli seems to have been too mesmerized by the chemistry between Khan and Kajol, which is admittedly quite riveting. Still, and maybe this is because she's been away so long, Kajol's powerfully spontaneous screen presence ensures that the film belongs to her. With Khan at 41 and Kajol at 30, and both picky about scripts, this is a pairing that's unlikely to be ever repeated, which makes ``Fanaa'' a film to be cherished.
``Fanaa'' was released in India on May 26.
To contact the writer of this story:
Nabeel Mohideen in New Delhi at
Last Updated: May 29, 2006 22:55 EDT