It may not be the most brilliant movie in town, and God knows how long its going to last in the theatres, but surely Arjun Rampals bystander role in We Are Family would have been a saner choice than the terminally-ill male lead of Aashayein?
Granted that few remember Ed Harris as the man caught between his former wife (Susan Sarandon) and his present woman (Julia Roberts) but Arjun Rampal as the man sandwiched between Kajol and Kareena gave his character an efficiency which will not take away anything from him as an actor. The role only required a good-looking presence (if two gorgeous women were devouring him, he had to be acceptable eye candy) and the ability to stand up to and be the perfect foil for the combined histrionics of the two women. That Arjun did his duty well in front of Kajol and Kareena is a credit to him.
On the other hand, does anybody know anything about a film called Aashayein which was released a week earlier? The film was not only an utter failure but John Abraham playing a cancer patient who tries to make the inevitable easy for those similarly placed, will go down as a lesson on how to botch up an acting assignment. As it is, it was laughable to expect John to pull off a weak Anand-meet-Munna Bhai thought. But putting a role above the script has been an excitement a lot of actors go for. You know, the classic this-role-is-so-challenging syndrome, with the actor failing to pause and assess whether the film will work or whether he can pull off the role. John is unfortunately falling into this trap too often, picking up a challenge, however unsuitable it may be for him. Why does John do this to himself? Doesnt he know his own strengths and flaws?
John Abraham needs to examine his choices for he turned down Arjun Rampals role in We Are Family, a role which wouldve brought him some notice, irrespective of its fate at the box-office. He ostensibly didnt want to play a father so soon in his career but John is no Ranbir, he is 35-plus. The screening of We Are Family was ironically preceded by the promo of Johns next release Jhoota Hi Sahi, another film that has, like Aashayein, taken its own sweet time to find a release date and a title too (its been changed three times). The film has been directed by Abbas Tyrewala (the dialogue writer of films such as Main Hoon Naa, he also directed Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na) and one can understand John wanting to do a film with him. But once again, its a huge risk hes taken for it is a hero-centric role which one isnt sure if John is equipped to handle right now. Plus, as most people know, the heroine is Abbas wife Pakki, an aspirant who did a role in the immensely forgettable Ye Kya Ho Raha Hai. Can she make the grade as heroine today?
While those question marks remain, the remake of Stepmom has made another non-controversy re-surface because dress designer Vikram Phadnis wanted to make the Hindi version more than four years ago. He had made several drafts of it but his film never did get off the ground. It was only after he gave Vikram enough time to make a formal announcement that Karan finally stepped in to pick up the remake rights.
Meanwhile, Indra Kumar (of Beta, Dil, Dhamaal fame) was also keen to remake Stepmom. But Indu realised that he couldnt make it without an actress as strong as Kajol in Susans role. He also knew that she was out of his reach (although they had worked together in Ishq years ago). So he simply shelved the idea and went on with his sequel titled Double Dhamaal.
A reference to dress designers aspiring to turn directors would be incomplete without Manish Malhotra. He was even signed up by Suneel Darshan during the days of Ek Hi Rishta (a film Suneel made with Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Karisma, Juhi and others). Suneel is not anywhere in the orbit today and Manishs new producer is Karan Johar.
The other celebrity designer, Neeta Lulla, has sensibly stuck to clothes and more clothes, turning it into a lucrative family business. Neeta celebrates 25 years in showbiz this month.
Finally, ahem, did anybody say blogs, Twitter and Facebook would replace good ol newspapers? Amitabh Bachchan who pioneered the trend among his colleagues (all of them hoping they could dispense with pesky journalists and reach out to fans without any via media) has realised that he still needs to explain his stand many a time. He has just appointed Ajay Devgns personal PR man Parag Desai to take care of his interactions with the media. Big B is obviously impressed with the way Ajay has quietly notched up brownie points with the press.
Bharathi S. Pradhan is editor,The Film Street Journal