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Screen On & Off

Love crosses the line

What if it’s a run-of-the mill masala film with a much-trodden mushy storyline' And what if critics are slamming it as a poorer metro version of Sanjay Dutt-Salman Khan-Madhuri Dixit’s Saajan' With slick packaging and smart catch lines — 3 friends, 2 lovers, 1 luv stori (!) — Premi has just the right look and feel of a multiplex film. The big-ticket venture from Shree Venkatesh, starring Jeet, Jishu Sengupta and Chandana Bhowmick, has smoothly crossed over to 89 Cinemas and INOX City Centre, if only for one show a piece.

The two multiplexes feel the dashing combo of the two young Turks of Tollywood and their lady love has the pull to lure in the audiences. “Though it’s not the niche variety, Premi is a well-made, well-publicised urban romantic film which, we feel, will appeal to our audiences. Also because the Salt lake area consists of a large bulk of Bengali cine-goers. If this experiment succeeds, we may go for more such films,” revealed a spokesperson for INOX.

Much on the same lines, a spokesperson for 89 Cinemas added: “Premi is targeted at the youth and we think it will click with our viewers.

” While an audio cassette of Premi comes free with every ticket sold (Rs 60 and Rs 80) at the Salt Lake multiplex, the Swabhumi multi-screen is offering a slashed rate of Rs 50. The film rolls out at 6.30 pm, INOX-City Centre, and at 1.15 pm, 89 Cinemas.

New role

Shonal : Breaking free

Her vermilion-smeared pretty face looking down from billboards as part of Hutch’s Durga Puja campaign two autumns ago prompted ‘K’ queen Ektaa Kapoor to almost sign her on for one of her mega-serials, as a Bengali girl. But Calcutta girl Shonal Rawat had bigger things on her mind.

Lady long legs took a crack at the Miss India crown in 2002 before shifting base to Mumbai a year ago. And she is now “not just at home in the dream city”, but also flooded with work.

“I am doing the next Bally Sagoo video as the female lead,” said the ever-smiling beauty in the city on a day’s trip for the NiFD-Salt Lake fashion show.

The remix of Bindya Chamkegi finds her not just dancing her heart out, but also putting in the acting bit to go with a “fairytale-like” storyline.

“This is the first time that I have danced and emoted in front of a movie camera, something I never thought I was capable of,” she confessed.

Indeed, dancing is still not something that she considers a strong point. “I am getting a lot of calls from directors who think I’ll do well as an item number girl, but I don’t feel confident about dancing at all,” she reasoned, feet firmly on the ground and eyes glued to some film scripts she has in hand.

Once she’s through dancing her way through the fairytale music video, Shonal will get down to exploring — and advocating — more basic instincts. She will sizzle on the small screen from next month with a condom ad.

“This was a real bold step for me, but the ad has been shot in a way that there isn’t anything obscene about it,” she insisted. When it’s Shonal, we in Calcutta are confident she can pull it off.

Film fare

Sharmila & Nandita: Right time

If the rains spoil your weekend plans for this month and the next, don’t lose heart. Tara has lined up a medley of Bengali films mirroring the myriad faces of women to cheer you up on a damp holiday. The Monsoon Weekend Film Festival to be aired every Saturday-Sunday, starting August 21, premieres Urmi Chakraborty’s Hemanter Pakhi (starring Tanusree Shankar, Soumitra Chatterjee and Mamata Shankar) on August 22, Subhadro Chowdhury’s Prohor (featuring Debasree Roy in the lead) on August 29 and Basu Chatterjee’s Tak Jhal Mishti (Priyanka Trivedi and Firdaus) on September 5.

“We have always wanted to promote new directors and so chose Subhadro Chowdhury and Urmi Chakraborty. Basu Chatterjee has been included because people often don’t get to see his films,” said a spokesperson for Tara Bangla.

For the film-makers, a screening on TV often kindles interest about a film that may have gone unnoticed during its big-screen run. “Inhibitions about a new film-maker often stops people from going to the theatre. Showing it on TV helps break that ice,” said Subhadro.

The 2 pm slots on all Saturdays are, however, reserved for Rituparno Ghosh. The first week kicks off with Subho Mahurat (starring Rakhee, Sharmila Tagore and Nandita Das). Next in queue are Bariwali (August 28) featuring Kiron Kher, Sudipa Chakraborty, Chiranjeet and Rupa Ganguly, and Utsab (September 4) with Prosenjit, Rituparna Sengupta, Madhabi Chakraborty, Mamata Shankar and Arpita Pal.

“We try to hold film festivals within a gap of a few months because these help push up our channel’s TRPs. This has been proved time and again with Rituparno Ghosh’s films. As our viewership increases, we take this opportunity to promote our own programmes during the breaks,” the Tara spokesperson added.

Queen of hearts

Rani Mukherjee’s dream run will now spill over to the small screen. In the middle of a signing spree, she will be seen at her candid best — distinctive voice, trademark grin and all — in an interview on Star World. With three back-to-back hits (Saathiya, Chalte Chalte and Hum Tum), the pint-sized Bengali beauty is big in Bollywood today.

In a “heart-to-heart” talk on TV, Ranispeak ranges from how sure she was of Hum Tum’s success from day one to how tough it was to step into the shoes of Aishwarya Rai in Chalte Chalte; from her state of mind when she was written off completely some months back and her matter-of-fact take on the good times.

Rani also provides a peek into her immediate future, which sees her working with the best in the business (Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Yash Chopra and Aamir Khan). So to know your favourite superstar (with a strong Calcutta connection) up close and personal, tune into Cover Story this Sunday at 10 pm.

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