The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Madhuri’s loss Jeetendra’s gain

Bhopal, Aug. 3: Jumping Jack Jeetendra appears to have a bigger jhatka than even Madhuri Dixit.

Former actor Jeetendra has secured free land — where Madhuri was supposed to set up a classical dance school — for a studio and multiplex in Bhopal from the Digvijay Singh government.

But don’t get it wrong — it’s not that Singh did not want to give the land to Madhuri. He’s a self-proclaimed fan of the actress. Madhuri hasn’t found the time to respond to the instant offer the chief minister made once she expressed her desire to start a dance school a few years ago.

In stepped Jeetendra, who had starred with Madhuri in Paapi Devta. The chief minister said he would be delighted to lease land to Balaji Films, the company Jeetendra and his daughter Ekta Kapoor run, free of cost.

Singh said he wanted to develop lake-city Bhopal as a Bollywood destination. “The city is blessed with scenic beauty, state-of-the-art facilities. Come and patronise it,” he told Jeetendra, who received a standing ovation in the Assembly when he visited the city last week.

Buoyed by all the attention, Jeetendra said he did not know Madhuri had been offered the land. He said the proposed studio would train youngsters in acting, direction, photography, make-up, technical work and other aspects of films.

The leading actor of the seventies said many talented youngsters failed to make it to Mumbai and some were often subjected to exploitation. “There is a pressing need to spot talent at the local level,” he said, sporting his trademark white shoes over a gray bandhgala.

In recent months, a number of Bollywood production houses have chosen Bhopal for shooting. Kuku Irani, husband of actress Aruna Irani, filmed Woh Tumhara Naam Tha featuring Amrish Puri and Prem Chopra with newcomers Deepak and Shalini in the lead.

Director Priyadarshan also came last week to shoot a few scenes starring Rima Sen and Akshay Khanna. Naseeruddin Shah and Tabu were spotted at the city’s famous bada talab (big pond) shooting for Muzamil Mian, a movie on the underworld.

Madhuri’s preoccupation with Devdas, her marriage and birth of a child came in the way of following up on her dream project of a dancing school.

Singh, however, continued to cherish the ambition of placing Bhopal on the movie map. With top-rated serials like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kahin Kisi Roz, KKusum, Kyon Hota Hai Pyar and Kya Hadsa Kya Haqiqat, Balaji Films would appear to be a good bet.

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