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Name game

The Big B continues to be the flavour of the season. And when the man himself is not in a film, his name figures prominently. Amal Neerad — the cinematographer for Ram Gopal Varma’s Darna Zaroori Hai, James and Shiva — is now directing a film called Big B in Malayalam for producer Naushad. Mammootty will play the title role — that of a body guard who returns to Kerala after a long stay in Mumbai. Now it has to be seen if Bachchan can be roped in for a film called the Big M.

Discount wars

Newspapers are increasingly resorting to a hoary tool to build up circulation quickly — discounts to subscribers. That is nowhere more in evidence than in the business press. HT Media is soon to launch a business paper in association with The Wall Street Journal. So it began offering the new paper to subscribers for a yearly subscription of Rs 299. Not to be outdone, market leader The Economic Times quickly announced an annual dirt cheap subscription rate of Rs 89.

The big question now is whether the other financial newspapers, Business Standard, Financial Express and Businessline, will follow suit. The Economic Times is cash rich and can afford to lose money by offering bargain basement subs-cription rates, but its existing rivals really can’t sustain such losses for too long.

Wishing well

Director Shriram Raghavan will start work on Gaurang Doshi’s film, Happy Birthday, in March. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, John Abraham and Aishwarya Rai in a role that Preity Zinta turned down. This will be Doshi’s third venture featuring the Big B after Aankhen and Deewar. Another heroine may join the cast to add a bit of glamour to the film. Happy Birthday is being made on a bigger budget and scale than his earlier films, and Doshi is expecting money to come in from corporates.

For your eyes only

Since sequels are in, Gaurang Doshi has signed up both Amitabh Bachchan and Paresh Rawal for his new film, a follow up to his hit, Aankhen. The film is going to spill over with stars, for three more heroes are likely to be signed up, along with a bevy of heroines. Doshi likes to call his films the Aankhen series — just as Vidhu Vinod Chopra prefers to refer to his films as the Munnabhai series. Lage raho, Doshi.

Rigorous labour

Nazim Rizvi — producer of Chori Chopri Chupke Chupke and on trial for his alleged links with the underworld — has been rather busy. Rizvi has got his director and choreographer to shoot continuously for 31 hours with actor Rajpal Yadav and item girl Sambhavna Seth, respectively, in a bid to finish the shooting of his film. The song was picturised from 9 am on December 17 to 4 pm the next day at Magna Tape near Chandivli Studios. The film also stars Monica Castelino, Kader Khan and Prem Chopra.

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