The Telegraph
| Sunday, June 8, 2014 |

7days

Javed in Holiday mood

Bharathi S. Pradhan Celebrity Circus
Bharathi S. Pradhan

Javed Akhtar, whose kurtas are getting larger and more tent-like, continues to be unfailingly amusing. When a friend who saw his burgeoning weight recommended that he walk every day, Javed quipped on the spot, "I've nothing against walking. The only problem is, after the first step, when I take the next one, I feel I'm repeating myself!"

At a special late night screening of Akshay Kumar's Holiday, Javed was as entertaining as the film. During the interval, when Punam Sinha, son Luv, Rajkumar Santoshi and a few others standing nearby were laughing over something, Javed sitting beside me remarked wisely, "Have you noticed that when one group is laughing or sounds happy, the rest of the room thinks that group is having more fun than mine and start feeling envious? You must try this at a restaurant. Get everybody at your table to laugh aloud. You'll find all the other tables looking at you, feeling insecure and wishing they were at your table. Never mind if you're laughing at nothing at all!"

Rajkumar Santoshi with his well-maintained wife, Manila, had come to the screening wearing a hat. He had just gone to Tirupati and shaved his head, offering his hair to the deity.

Punam Sinha, who was watching Holiday a second time, was thrilled that her daughter's film was being hailed as a hit. "I'm enjoying it even more the second time around," she beamed. Sonakshi was too exhausted to show up at this screening — she'd been promoting the film non-stop and worse, she had to wear painfully high heels all day long. "She's off to Pune in the morning again for another round of promotions," said Punam. "She's told her team to give her several pairs of flats instead of heels this time."

Punam also mentioned that Sona had shot for Holiday last year and has "lost a lot of weight since then". That is welcome news because with Alia Bhatt's superb acting skills and Shraddha Kapoor's reed-slim prettiness, the competition is hotting up.

Punam should be taking off for Uttarakhand early this week to complete her pilgrimage of 12 main Shiva temples. The floods last year had prevented her from going to Kedarnath and she was in constant touch with the helicopter people to check when they'd start flying again.

One of the special invitees to the screening was Ashutosh Gowariker who had cast Punam Sinha as Hrithik Roshan's mother in Jodhaa Akbar. As usual, Ashutosh is going further and further into history for his cinema and has now excavated Mohenjodaro to provide the plot for his next film. Busy putting the finishing touches to it and getting the huge project off the ground, Ashutosh came straight from work to catch Holiday.

A well-written commercial entertainer that also doffs its hat to the Indian army, Holiday fetched a pile of compliments from everybody. After the interval, just before the second half began, host Vipul Shah said his "byes" because he had an early morning flight to catch.

"So do I," shot back Javed Akhtar, who was leaving for Delhi to attend the current session of the Rajya Sabha. "You can't leave now. You should be here when the film ends if you want to hear more compliments. Because there's a 99 per cent chance that we're going to like the rest of the film as well," he added, his eyes twinkling.

That did it. Vipul stayed back and basked in the praise that everybody lavished on his film at the end of the screening well past 1am. Even at that hour, Vipul's wit was intact. When I asked him what he would do with all the money he's going to make from Holiday, he very correctly laughed, "The money will come to me only after it goes through a very big filter called Akshay Kumar!" Akshay has the reputation of being such an ace at making money that when he's a co-producer, one may be sure he'll be the one going home with his pockets full before anybody else.

By the way, at the IPL finals where Kolkata Knight Riders once again emerged as winners, Gauri Khan was missing while Juhi Chawla was present. Juhi and Jai Mehta had taken along over a dozen family members for the finals in Bengaluru, including son Arjun. There's a whisper that Gauri didn't deign to grace it with her presence because liquor was not going to be served at the stands and she wouldn't dream of carting her Mumbai gang all the way to Bengaluru if they couldn't party in high spirits while watching the match.