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Katrina Kaif’s navel victory
celebrity circus

The gates of his Poes Garden bungalow in Chennai have begun to open up a wee bit. Rajinikanth, the star who notched up the biggest hit of the year which also makes him the highest paid actor in the country since he gets an impressive percentage of the profits, has begun to communicate with the outside world.

One of the people he and wife Latha have contacted is good old Dharmendra in Mumbai. Rajini is like a humble admirer when he talks to or talks about actors like Dharam. And he has a very soft corner for fellow-Chennai-ite Hema Malini with whom he has done a film or two in Hindi.

Rajinikanth’s wife Latha has been very actively involved with academics and for the last 20 years she has been running The Ashram in Chennai, the school from where her two daughters passed out.

The school celebrates its Annual Day by giving out Bhishma Awards to veterans in various fields while the children also put up a highly skilled cultural show. Under the umbrella of the Bhishma awards, there are different categories, including a Rajinikanth Legend Award for excellence in cinema. Past recipients include B. Saroja Devi, Dev Anand and Vyjayanthimala. This year the award will be given to Dharam and Hema at the annual day function on December 7.

“We’ve also come to know that it is Dharamji’s 50th year in films which is a great reason to celebrate,” says Latha who is a hands-on organiser. “And we will bring in his birthday too (which falls on December 8). So it will be a double celebration.” With Rajinikanth also in the picture, the photo op is going to be every Chennai cameraman’s dream moment.

Let’s return to Mumbai where Farah Khan’s train ride from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Lonavla got her new film Tees Maar Khan all the coverage it needed. It sure was a good way to ensure maximum attendance for the music release of the film. Vishal-Shekhar even went right down the train singing all the numbers from the film. Vishal is the podgy one in the duo while Shekhar is slim and good looking. “You need glamour (pointing to Shekhar) and talent (pointing to himself) in every team,” wisecracked Vishal.

Farah, the eternal planner, had ensured that the TV cameras had a bogey of their own while the print medium journalists got a compartment to themselves, so that neither got in the other’s way. Still, she hadn’t reckoned with the Indian Railways who sent her four bogeys three hours late while the fifth and the engine came into the platform around 12 noon. So instead of getting three leisurely hours to decorate the whole train with Tees Maar Khan posters and a red carpet, her staff had to rush through it within an hour and the train finally chugged out of CST after 12 noon.

Of course, she carefully kept Akshaye Khanna out of the revelry (and the publicity blitzkrieg) because his presence would’ve given out the whole story of Tees Maar Khan which Farah is cleverly keeping under wraps until release time.

Meanwhile, the very punctual Akshay Kumar who had arrived on time was asked by Farah to do a few extra rounds in his car since there’d have been chaos if he’d been spotted at the station. Katrina Kaif was quickly slipped into a compartment under heavy security and, garrulous as ever, went from bogey to bogey talking to everyone. Without a doubt, her navel-displaying dance Sheila ki jawani was the most discussed subject that afternoon and Katrina happily supplied details of how she’d been anxious about showing her tummy for the first time (we won’t remind her of the bikini in Boom, her first film) but Farah had told her about it even before she’d signed the film. “Farah had even told me how she wanted me to look in it right down to the ghagra-choli,” said Kat. “Katrina used to hog with us earlier but once she knew she had to shoot for Sheila ki jawani, she went on a diet,” Akshay said. Katrina herself tackled it with head-on pragmatism. She got into her costume on the first day and instead of covering herself, brazenly walked up and down the studio and got used to the navel baring before she finally filmed the dance.

Talking of getting used to a new look, Sonakshi Sinha has become so secretive about her new films that until the producer is ready to make an announcement she doesn’t let on that she has signed on some pretty interesting projects. It’s now official that she is in Farah and Shirish’s next production titled Joker in 3D opposite Akshay Kumar. What is not official is that Sonakshi is also a part of the glossy, high adrenaline Race 2. From the rural India look of Dabangg to the glamour of Race 2, it should be an interesting transformation for Sonakshi in the New Year.

Bharathi S. Pradhan is editor,The Film Street Journal

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