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Since 1st March, 1999
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Song for MJ

She was arguably one of the first pop divas to rock Calcutta — and India at large. And now, when her home town gears up to pay tribute to the original king of pop, Usha Uthup is back in the news again. Word is out that a motley bunch of Calcutta musicians — from bands such as Fossils, Span, Chandrabindoo, Lakkhichhara and Cactus, with Uthup being the didi of them all — is joining hands to record a song in memory of Michael Jackson, who died late last month in the United States. The brain behind the project is Subhajit Mukherjee, vocalist of Lakkhichhara and a die-hard Jacko fan, who originally came up with the concept and is now trying to make this collective effort a truly memorable one. “We are trying to release the song on August 29, probably as a single, to coincide with Jackson’s birthday,” says Mukherjee. “We are also trying to shoot a video that could be aired on television. And to give it our own identity, we have decided to record the song in Bangla.” Well, stay tuned for this one.

High on a hill

The Yeti has company. A man called Harman Baweja is somewhere up in the Himalayas, contemplating life and box office flops. The man who was better known for his girlfriend Priyanka Chopra — oops, make that ex-girlfriend — is tucked away somewhere in a remote gurdwara in Uttarakhand. What else do you do when your debut film bombs and your successful partner sends you a Dear John letter? But Harman has truly been going through a bad phase. After Love Story 2050 and Victory sank without a trace, the actor was busy with Ashutosh Gowariker’s What’s Your Rashee. Now that the shoot is over, he is on a much needed break. The poor boy can look at the mountains and find solace in nature. What is man, after all, in front of the Himalayas?

Pulling a string

You’ve got to give it to santoor player Rahul Sharma — the musician’s not scared of experimenting. After a successful collaboration with French pianist Richard Clayderman, Rahul — santoor maestro Shiv Kumar Sharma’s son — has just released an album with Egyptian oud player Georges Kazazian. Called A Meeting by the Nile, it comprises mostly instrumentals. “Egyptian music touches you. We have made an effort to combine the music of both our ancient cultures,” says Rahul. The album also includes a song written and composed by him and sung by Bollywood’s Sunidhi Chauhan. “I wanted somebody with an Arabic voice and Sunidhi fit the bill. She will surprise many with this song,” he says. Clearly when east meets east, the west is not the best.

Southern comfort

Sameera Reddy is going southwards — in more ways than one. While her career graph is dipping, the lady — who acted in eminently forgettable films such as Taxi No 9211, Darna Mana Hai and Race — has decided that she should now focus on south Indian films. A miffed Sameera is convinced that Mumbai is not the place for her. Before she bids celluloid a tearful goodbye, Sameera, however, is going to try her luck out in the Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam film industries. Another lady called Nagma can give her a few tips on how to succeed in the south. She’s been there, done that.

Terror talkie

Eight long years after those two aircraft nosedived into the Twin Towers, 9/11 suddenly seems to be the flavour of Indian cinema once again. First, there was New York, Kabir Khan’s Bollywood take on the historical incident. And now, Calcutta director Suman Mukhopadhyay — of Herbert and Chaturanga fame — is gearing up to shoot a brand new film that analyses the impact of 9/11 at a micro and remote level. “It’s a Bangla film, and is based on a middle class family living in Calcutta who one fine day wake up to a spate of changes triggered by 9/11,” says Mukhopadhyay. “The idea is to show how an incident of such magnitude can percolate down to affect those who have no direct relation with it, and to interpret the effects of terrorism in an oblique way.” Based on Swapnamoy Chakraborty’s story Egaroi September, the yet-untitled production is slated to begin sometime in October. Here’s hoping it translates to another good film to look out for in the summer of 2010.

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