The Telegraph - Calcutta : 7days
The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Butts and abs
celebrity circus

There’s a rumour going around that the RK banner’s next big hope, Ranbir Kapoor has been bold enough to drop his underpants in his debut film, Saawariya. Apart from prancing around in a see-through white towel (how RK-ish, remember all those RK heroines wet and white') there’s an unconfirmed buzz that Sanjay Leela Bhansali shot a flash of Ranbir’s bare butt where the towel drops off. The animated but muffled discussion is, will that shot be retained by SLB or snipped by the censors' If it doesn’t make it to the final cut, we’ll never know for sure if it was shot in the first place since everything about SLB’s film is so hush-hush.

One might find Om Shanti Om, the competitor to Saawariya at the box-office this Diwali, vastly different in its approach; everything about OSO seems so open and amiable. For one, everybody knows that it has a whiff of Karz in it — reincarnation and revenge being its two basic points. One also knows that Shah Rukh Khan plays Om, the flop junior artiste of the 70s while Deepika is Shanti, the No. 1 actress of that period. In his reincarnation, Shah Rukh is Om Kapoor, a super star in this birth. And so, Om Shanti Om has the backdrop of the Hindi film industry, with several other stars putting in guest appearances. For an awards function scene, director Farah Khan has shot the usual star attendance and even got a byte from a star wife like Bhavna Chunky Panday!

OSO also has a new heroine and, unlike Saawariya’s Sonam Kapoor who was forbidden to show her face before SLB gave the green signal, Shah Rukh’s co-star Deepika Padukone’s celebrity face was too well-known to be kept in purdah.

Of course, Shah Rukh Khan’s six-pack abs have also been much flaunted and discussed, making Om Shanti Om seem like an open book where everybody knows everything about it. But the truth is, while Sanjay Leela Bhansali went paranoid with his need for secrecy, Shah Rukh and Farah Khan have been equally secretive about their film. Only, they’ve been clever enough to share all the trimmings (the reincarnation, their new heroine, SRK’s shirtless Dard-e-disco et al) with the public while quietly retaining the essential story of the film. While SLB is obviously holding on to his film and orchestrating every little squeak that is heard about Saawariya, Shah Rukh and Farah Khan have been equally possessive about their film but have done it with such fantastic marketing skills that you don’t even realise that you don’t really know too much about the core story of Om Shanti Om!

Besides, if you’ve noticed, there have been practically no interviews with Deepika Padukone because SRK has quietly instructed her to route all media meetings through the official PRO of Om Shanti Om. Therefore, while SLB is obviously pulling the strings and making all the decisions regarding his fresh new actors and their interaction with the world outside, producer Shah Rukh Khan and his director Farah Khan have been taking the same route. Only, they’re so friendly and fun-loving and Bhansali is so brusque and bristly that one tends to put them both in vastly different categories. However, on close inspection, both Saawariya and Om Shanti Om are ultimately playing their (ace) cards close to their chest, to be revealed with a flourish only when the card tables are out this Diwali.

Whatever the marketing approach may be, with Ranbir Kapoor’s butt and bodyshow versus Shah Rukh Khan’s shirtless abs, the box-office this festive season will have fireworks for sure.

Meanwhile, a little bird twitters that Shah Rukh’s wife Gauri Khan has turned media-allergic to the point where she has instructed all her close friends — Seema Sohail Khan, Neelam Kothare, Maheep Sanjay Kapoor etc — not to invite her to any event or fashion show that they might organise. She won’t attend even a close friend’s bash if it’s going to get media coverage. To show that she means business, she also turned down Karan Johar’s request to feature on his show, Koffee With Karan, when he telecast its second season. Gauri may now join the bench where her husband’s arch rival Ajay Devgan sits, for Kajol’s hubby was the first celebrity who put his foot down and refused to go on Karan’s show!

Bharathi S. Pradhan is managing editor of Movie Mag International

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