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Screen On & Off

Makhija mayhem

Bhaiyon, life mein aage badhna hai to eighty-two chahiye' (Brother, if you want to get ahead in life you need 'attitude'). That was Udham Singh in 1997, persuading viewers to vote for the Channel [V] Viewers' Choice awards.

Today he is back on beam, with a major (and more menacing) mission. Udham Singh is now Chaudhary, the dreaded booth-capturer of Mayhem village in Haryana. He is bent on teaching a lesson to politicians who have been using his services during polls but denied him a share of the power. So he is contesting the elections himself.

'Vote for me, or I'll break your head,' says Munish Makhija (better known as Udham Singh), while driving from Mumbai to Goa. That is his single message to the electorate in his new avatar on the eve of the Assembly elections in the three states.

In a more friendly tone, he goes on to explain: 'Leaders come and ask for votes in the name of democracy making tall promises, which they never deliver. This is a dig at them. Some are paid in cash, baki ko daraya dhamkaya jaata hai. I want to tell them 'please wake up',' the man now married to Pooja Bhatt told Metro.

The broad outline of the concept came from Zee News, producers of the show. The rest is all Munish Makhija. 'I feel comfortable writing my own scripts.'

The whole action takes place in front of the Zee News office in Noida. He barges into the newsroom and barks: 'Stop everything, I am back.'

Back Udham Singh indeed is. For the same brand of humour in chaste Haryanvi is now being mouthed by Chaudhary camping in front of the news office and delivering his election speech. There is no violence on camera though. 'You don't have to hit people to threaten them.'

There are two buffaloes that keep Chaudhary company, the logic being he will need the animals for 'buffalo-trading' to get a majority. And it is from the villagers who were brought over to take care of the buffaloes that Makhija received his biggest compliment.

'The men kept laughing at the spoof as I said my lines in Haryanvi. That gave me the satisfaction that I was speaking authentic stuff.'

What has been Pooja Bhatt's role in this project' 'Of a wife. She waits while I shoot,' Makhija says, in mock smugness.

Fifteen capsules of five minutes each have been shot. These are on beam currently on Zee News. 'If people like me in them, I may actually contest the next election,' Makhija announces.

When he is not threatening voters, the funny man of the deadpan face, shiny pate and trendy earrings, is busy sourcing and producing music.

In between shooting for his role in Rog, he has travelled to innumerable villages in UP, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

'I brought the Mann ki lagan track from Pakistan. Pooja chose it for Paap. I have five Pakistani stamps on my passport. God knows if the US embassy will give me a visa,' he ends with a chuckle.

Made in India

As Sony Entertainment Television's super successful Indian Idol enters its final lap, the stars appearing on the show are getting only bigger.

After the bubbly Preity Zinta last week, it was time for director Karan Johar to make an appearance on Thursday. The theme for the show, beamed the day after Republic Day, was, what else, but patriotism-drenched 'Proud to be Indian'.

The six finalists performed for and interacted with the jawans at India Gate. They also had the opportunity to witness the jawans practise for the R-Day parade.

The contestants were offered lessons in basic shooting skills followed by an interactive singing session.

Karan's pearls of wisdom for the contestants included some useful tips on overall performance and presentation.

Speaking on Indian Idol and the special episode, Karan said: 'As a child I have always remembered this occasion where every year a grand parade is held in the Capital, followed by a pageant of spectacular displays bringing the whole country together through the music and songs of each state. All the Indian Idol contestants are already stars in their own right since the whole nation recognises them by face and name. I would not be surprised if all of them are approached for their incredible talent. Being from the film fraternity and from the director's point of view, I have already identified whom I would be approaching for my upcoming movies.'

The drama, too, is set to become more and more intense as with every episode some favourite or the other is voted out.

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