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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bollywood's Most Exciting Debuts (Male Stars)

Here are some of the most exciting debuts of male stars in the history of Hindi cinema:

Ashok Kumar (Achut Kanya – 1936): As a young assistant to filmmaker Himanshu Rai, Ashok Kumar got his break in acting career by accident when he was offered to substitute for the lead actor who fell ill before production of Achut Kanya started. Initially he was reluctant to play the lead opposite Devika Rani who was not only his boss but also a very strict one at that. However, when he relented, Bollywood discovered one of its biggest stars ever. Ashok Kumar’s unique easy-style acting, quite a contrast to theatrical acting common then, was highly acclaimed. The film was a big hit at the box-office and Himanshu Rai repeated the successful team of Devika Rani and Ashok Kumar in several of his movies. Even when Devika Rani retired from acting after her husband’s untimely demise, Ashok Kumar remained in great demand throughout his entire career as a legendary actor.

Surendra (Deccan Queen – 1936): Moviemakers in Bombay were desperately looking for a singer to match the legendary singer K. L. Saigal, whose melodious voice was making Calcutta’s New Theatres far ahead of them at the box-office. Their search ended with the famous producer-director Mehboob Khan discovering a 6-foot tall, handsome singer Surendra, to play hero in his first musical Deccan Queen. The melodious rendering of ‘Birha ki aag lagi more man mein’ in the movie was a great start to establish Surendra as the Saigal of Bombay. The film was a big hit and so was Surendra as a singing star. Mehboob repeated him in several of his successful musicals including the all time musical hit Anmol Ghadi.

Rishi Kapoor (Bobby – 1973): Rishi was the male kitsch fashion plate of 70s Bollywood. His use of over the top clothes was a way for him to really get into his characters. After the release of Bobby he was nicknamed ‘Lover Boy’ and he became the major teen heartthrob of 70s entertainers. He was the dashing singing and dancing kind chasing romance in light hearted films. He was born to the first family of Hindi cinema, the Kapoor clan. But if there is one actor who has truly vindicated his claim to fame, it is Rishi Kapoor. Rishi won a National Award when he was barely 18 for his sensitive portrayal of a teenager’s first crush in father Raj Kapoor’s opus Mera Naam Joker. The young actor became catnip to college girls at 21; when his dad next helmed him in the super hit Bobby.

Amjad Khan (Sholay – 1975): Every once in a while comes a movie where someone else besides the hero or heroin shines far brighter than the others. An author backed role or the genius of the actor or perhaps a mix of both these elements, whatever it may be, you have the movie with magical memories of this someone else. Perhaps, the most famous ‘someone else’ in Bollywood’s entire history is Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh in Sholay. There never was such a wild fire feverish craze and never will be, which Amjad Khan generated among the masses in his first release Sholay. Each and every of Gabbar’s dialogue was memorized plain verbatim. Amjad Khan made Gabbar Singh eternal.

Nana Patekar (Gaman – 1978): Nana Patekar has been an excellent performer from his first movie Gaman to Ankush to Apharan. He is one of the most sincere actors in the industry. He gets so much engrossed into the role that he portrays that it becomes difficult to separate the real from the reel. Audiences were able to perceive his low-key charisma, but also one of the rare performers who can carry the entire film on his shoulder. Nana Patekar is the most explosive actor Hindi cinema has ever seen. He has finally graduated from a small budget actor to one of the hottest commodities in Bollywood.

Kumar Gaurav (Love Story – 1981): Rajendra Kumar launched his son Kumar Gaurav in his first production Love Story. In three hours of its release, the shy unassuming Gaurav became the national heartthrob. The movie was a super duper hit. Rajendra Kumar by this successful move had also started a new trend of launching star-sons which is being followed to this day.

Aamir Khan (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak – 1988): Born in a noted film family (grand uncle Nasir Hussain, father Tahir Hussain), he went directly into films from college and made his first hit movie playing a college boy. The film, Qayamat Se Qayamat was a runaway hit with the super hit song ‘Papa kehte hein’, and Aamir Khan became a rage with the youth audiences. Aamir Khan won Filmfare Sensational Debut Award for the film. Even after spending 18 years in the industry as a dependable super star, the Desi version of Tom Hanks manages to retain freshness in his performance.

Hrithik Roshan (Kaho Naa Pyaar Hei – 2000): Son of Rakesh Roshan, actor-director-Producer, Hrithik grew up in the world of cinema. Wanting to learn everything about cinematography and acting, he worked with his father during the production of Koyla and Karan-Arjun. Later he even helped his father during the scripting stages of Kaho Naa Pyaar Hei, not knowing that his father had chosen him for the lead role. The film was released in January 2000; Rakesh got a superstar actor and the Hindi cinema got a brand new idol. Hrithik’s name instantly got penciled in on top directors’ list of actors to sign for upcoming films. Hrithik became an instant success. His first performance earned him Filmfare Award not only for best newcomer, but best actor also.

Vivek Oberoi (Company – 2002): Holding your own against stalwarts of the industry in your very first film is something very few artistes can claim. That is why when someone does it is cause for much hype and praise. For his first film, Ram Gopal Verma’s Company, Vivek Oberoi won the Best Debut award and also won best supporting actor award. He was pitted against stalwart Ajay Devgan and Malayalam superstar Mohanlal. The hype that the debutant had generated, very few new comers had done on the release of their first film. Son of veteran actor Suresh Oberoi, Vivek became the most talked about lad in Bollywood. As usual, the filmmakers made a beeline for him.

John Abraham (Jism – 2003): John Abraham hogged all attention as a pin up model when he did the Provogue ad. Like all models, John too aspired to become an actor. Producer Pooja Bhatt signed him to play the lead for her low-budget film Jism. The film also featured his girl friend Bipasha Basu. The script of Jism demanded some hot scenes from Bipasha and John that they willingly agreed to do. Jism turned out as a big hit of the year and audiences applauded the ditched lover instantly. He was declared a potential debutant and won the Best Debut award.


Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bollywood's Most Exciting Debuts (Female Stars)

Most of the big Bollywood stars became superstars after years of hard work and displaying their extraordinary talent in movie after movie, no matter some of the movies, including their debut films, were failures at the box-office. On the other hand, there are stars that had the most exciting debuts with their very first films hitting the bull’s eye at the box-office and the critics acclaiming them as overnight superstars, even though they did not retain that status in their subsequent movies. Here are the ten best debuts of Bollywood’s female stars.

1. Devika Rani (Karma-1933): Known as the First Lady of the Indian Cinema, Devika Rani attained instant fame with rave reviews at home and abroad for her performance in Karma, produced by her husband Himansu Rai in Hindi and English. So great was the impact of her beauty, grace and acting talent on the cinema goers that she became the first icon of the Hindi cinema as actor par excellence. In her subsequent movies she made a very successful team with Ashok Kumar.

2. Jayshree (Shakuntala – 1943): The legendary director, V. Shantaram was known for
Introducing new faces and Jayshree was definitely his most outstanding discovery for the title role of Shakuntala, his first film under the banner of Rajkamal Pictures. Jayshree was an instant hit with the viewers on account of her very charming looks and extraordinary talent. The film was a major ht and ran for 104 weeks at a single theatre. Shantaram himself was floored by her beauty and married her while they were still celebrating the movie’s overwhelming success. In his next film, Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani, an internationally famous film, Jayshree, playing the role of a Chinese wife to an Indian doctor (Shantaram), proved stunningly super talented artiste.

3. Asha Parekh (Dil Deke Dekho – 1959): In Nasir Hussein’s youth oriented, musical hit, Dil Deke Dekho, 17 year old Asha Parekh, the new comer became a star overnight. The scrubbed clean teenager represented the new Indian youth with her trendy trouser suits. She became so immensely popular with her debut film that Nasir Hussein went on to cast Asha Parekh as heroin in six more of his films, which were all great hits. In fact, with so many hits to her credit, Asha Parekh came to be commonly known as the Jubilee Girl. She started her career with a big hit, Dil Deke Dekho and voluntarily ended her film career with a big hit, Heera, after remaining as one of the top female stars in Hindi films from 1959 to 1973.

4. Sadhana (Love in Simla – 1960): The movie which introduced to Hindi cinema one of the most talented actresses, Sadhana, has the exuberance of youth, tongue in cheek dialogues and the capricious wit one associates with a classic comedy. The biggest surprise hit of the year, Love in Simla, made the debutante Sadhana an overnight star. Sadhana’s name and persona conjures up images of stylish sophistication and trend setting fashion statements. She was the queen of style for the Indian women of 60s. With her entrance on the screen in Love in Simla, Sadhana brought a fresh new image to the Hindi film heroin. Hers was a look of 60’s modernism that coincided with the petite slimed down fashion trends that were taking place in Paris and New York and were exemplified by the Hollywood actress Audrey Heyburn.

5. Rakhee (Sharmeelee – 1971): One look at Rakhee and you are immediately drawn to her gaze. There you find the fire as well as melancholy, depending on her mood of the moment. In Sharmeelee, her debut film, the cameraman devoted half an hour to her close ups. She is truly a photographer’s dream. Audiences adored her for hr acting prowess and her haunting beauty, with a lilting voice and colored eyes. Not only her debut film was a big hit, she went on to become a great star giving several super hit movies like Jeevan Mrityu, Blackmail, Daag, Heera Panna etc.

6. Zeenat Aman (Hare Rama Hare Krishna – 1972): She was Miss India and Miss Asia-Pacific when Dev Anand discovered Zeenat Aman for his big hit Hare Rama Hare Krishna. The tall, occidental looking actress became an overnight star with the release of the movie. The audiences applauded her performance in the role of the disenchanted hippie smoking away her life with a ‘dum’. The Dum Maro Dum girl went on to revolutionize the concept of the Hindi film female star. Zeenat’s sultry personality was refreshingly different from the marquee queens then synonymous with zest and zing. Zeenat possessed a convent school accent and a penchant for revealing dresses.

7. Dimple Kapadia (Bobby – 1973): Dimple Kapadia became a legend in her first film Bobby. She displayed an abandon of natural spontaneity in her acting that lifted the film above its simple storyline and helped make Bobby a classic of Bollywood cinema. The short skirted 14 year old of Bobby created a sensation in her first film. That pretty face looking askance at the young intruder into her house in Bobby isn’t easily forgotten. And the sensuous ingénue with her short skirts and the ill-concealed bosom had quite a hearts thumping away faster, including the heart of the superstar Rajesh Khanna, who didn’t take time to marry her.

8. Poonam Dhillon (Trishul - 1978): A stunning epitome of true Indian beauty, with a wholesome face, perfect features, limpid eyes and porcelain skin, Poonam Dhillon, after winning the Miss India crown at the age of 16, made her mark felt in her debut film Trishul, a Yash Chopra film studded with awesome names like legendary Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Rakhi and Shashi Kapoor. With her debut Poonam became the ‘Gapuchi Gapuchi Gum Gum’ girl who soon grew into a top ranking Hindi film actress.

9. Tina Munim (Des Pardes – 1978): Dev Anand was looking for a new actress to star in his next film. He saw the cover of Femina magazine with Tina Munim on it, celebrating her return from the International Teen Princess contest at Aruba. Anand asked Munim if she wanted to act in films. The result was the entry of one of the most beautiful actresses to grace Hindi popular cinema. Dev Anand, the savvy showman he was, capitalized on Tina’s popularity with Des Pardes. The movie, much due to the novelty of Tina Munim, went on to be Anand’s last big hit as filmmaker. Tina Munim exemplified the look of 1980s hip middle class youth.

10. Vidya Balan (Parineeta – 2005): Parineeta would not have been the same without Lolita, Vidya Balan. The gorgeous debutante has a remarkable range of facial expressions, and there is not a single scene in the movie when you can catch her acting. She is natural all the way till the end. Incidentally, Vidya had to go through 40 screen tests, 17 make-up shoots and 13 costume trials before she was chosen for the role in the film. The film became a super hit and made Vidya Balan a super star overnight. Indeed, Vidya is one incredibly lucky person to have a break like Parineeta and she looks divine. Audiences are eagerly looking forward to her future films.

Monday, May 01, 2006

It Happens Only In America

The world of the U.S. is also known as the New World. It is a much different world. Over there in the old world, government employees go on strike to press their pay increase and other demands. Here in the U.S. federal employees staged ‘work-in’ to protest government shut down. Twice within weeks during the Bill Clinton presidency, the U.S. administration ordered shut down of government offices across the country because the Republican party who had majority in the House, refused to release funds to the Democrat president to run the government till the President came to terms with the Republicans on their budget proposals.

Mothers world over work overtime building image of their teenage daughters in the hope of getting them worthy husbands, but not Deborah Harter of Summer Ville, U.S. All day, every day, for one month, she led her teenage daughter around leashed on a two-foot chain to school, to stores, to bed. A judge had ordered the security measure for Tonya Kline, a rebellious 15 year old, who was getting in trouble with the law. “I lead her around like a leashed puppy dog”, Harter said.

Its owners sold Cardinals, the St. Luis baseball team, for $150 million, to a group of investors. This was the second highest price paid for a baseball team in the country where popular teams are bought and sold like company stocks. Back home in India, imagine Reliance buying Team India and then selling to Tatas for huge profit!

Mississippi voters, forgiving or ignorant, picked four convicted criminals for Sheriffs. The state law allows people convicted of federal laws to be elected to office, but it is illegal for them to carry arms. The sheriffs, in charge of upholding the law, would be subject to arrest if they carried a gun. “This really makes us look kind of dumb”, Safety Commissioner of the state said.

Far away from Delhi’s Tihar jail (Ashram), the day starts for convicts at the Alabama state prison quite differently. In groups of five, 400 prisoners, dressed in white, approach the guards and then kneel before them. The guards string them together with metal chains, ankle to ankle, five on a leash. The convicts are then taken out of the prison walls, on to the public roads to cut weeds and clean trash along the highways. The colorful Commissioner of Alabama prison is proud of his ‘chain-gangs’ and invites television crews and Press to watch the ‘spectacle’ as he calls it. Mrs. Kiran Bedi was, of course, kept away from Alabama ritual when she visited U.S. prisons on invitation from the federal administration.

For a former Delhi-ite, it was a familiar experience when power lines in most San Francisco areas failed with the first rainstorms of the season. But what made it look different was when the Chairman of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, who provide the facility, said, “Another big storm will cause another big failure and there is little the Company can do about it”.

So, the U.S. world is different from the rest of the world in many more ways than mere driving on the wrong side of the road or switching on the light the opposite way.