Screen On & Off

Pot-Puri with Dahl Fist of fury to femme fatale Son shine Magic hour

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 13.09.04

Pot-Puri with Dahl

It looks, sounds and tastes delicious, too. Piyush Jha?s new film King of Bollywood, starring thespian Om Puri and British supermodel Sophie Dahl (picture right), will be screened on the opening night at Bite the Mango Festival in the United Kingdom.

With King of Bollywood, ad-man Jha returns to filmdom after the humourous Chalo America, which didn?t quite work at the box-office, when it released five years back. A spoof on the Indian film industry, his new film revolves around a ?young? 51-year-old Karan Kumar (Puri), who in his heydays, was the top star in Bollywood.

Now, just a shadow of his former self, Kumar meets Crystal Chaurasia (Sophie), a 24-year-old NRI film-maker. The stunning granddaughter of celebrated writer Roald Dahl wants to make a documentary on the life and times of Kumar. Finally realising that he is well past his prime, Kumar next wants to launch his son Rahul in a big film but the 25-year-old wants to have nothing to do with Bollywood.

Puri ? quite a name in the British film circuit (remember East is East and My Son the Fanatic?) and with an OBE under his belt ? will be present at the Bite the Mango Festival, to be held from September 24 to 30. We can all watch the King of Bollywood on the opening day, when it releases worldwide on September 24.

Zhang Ziyi: Going global

Fist of fury to femme fatale

Men crouch and women hide when Zhang Ziyi?s around the corner. The beautiful and talented Chinese actress, who burst on to international cinema with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, has been bagging one plum assignment after another ever since the Ang Lee martial arts classic bagged four Oscar nominations. And now, she has really sunk her teeth into a prized pie in tinsel town.

The actress is all set to play the title role in the film adaptation of the best-selling novel Memoirs of a Geisha to be jointly produced by Columbia Pictures, Dream Works and Spyglass Entertainment. Oscar-nominated Ken Watanabe of The Last Samurai fame has been signed on to play the male lead in the film to be directed by Rob Marshall.

Zhang, who also featured in the Jackie Chan American flick Rush Hour 2, will play Sayuri, the young orphan from a remote fishing village whose life changes when she is sent to the city to learn the ways of the geisha. Watanabe is Chairman, a high-powered executive with whom the young geisha falls in love.

While the cameras roll for Memoirs of a Geisha in the fall, it will take quite some time before the film actually releases here in India. For the time being you can get into the Zhang groove with Crouching Tiger? to be shown on Star Movies on Tuesday at 9 pm.

Watch Zhang play Jen, the vivacious politician?s daughter who wants to lay her hands on the magic 400-year-old sword: the Green destiny. But to do that she has to fight martial arts wizard Yu Shu Lien, played by the veteran Michelle Yeoh.

The Little Terrorist: Chhota champ

Son shine

Star kids following their parents? footsteps on the road to success is a rule rather than an exception in tinsel town. But the son of a star fashion designer shining bright in the film world is a phenomenon. And if the recent turn of events in young film-maker Ashvin Kumar?s career is a pointer, Ritu Kumar?s elder son is on the right stitch to stardom.

His first production, a 48-minute film titled Road to Ladakh starring Irrfan, was a success with screenings at Vancouver, Paris, Cannes, Raindance, LA Shorts International film festivals and was broadcast on Australian TV recently. Not just that, it was discovered at Cannes 2004 by Judith James of Dreyfuss/James Productions LA, who has partnered Ashvin to turn the film into a feature starring a leading American actress. To be shot in mid-2005, Road to Ladakh will be Ashvin?s debut feature.

If this sounds good, there?s even more happening in the life of this London Film School pass-out. His latest venture, a 15-minute film called The Little Terrorist has bagged the first prize at the Montreal World Film Festival 2004. ?While this award is a big achievement in itself, the best thing is that it allows him to apply for the Oscars,? the proud mother informed Metro, while in the city for her show last week.

The Little Terrorist is the story of Jamal, a 10-year-old Muslim Pakistani boy who crosses the border by mistake, lands up in India and finds an ally in a Hindu Brahmin called Bhola. Indian soldiers descend on Bhola?s village hunting for the ?terrorist? who has crossed over, and Jamal?s only hope is the humanity binding a populace separated by man-made boundaries.

The costumes for the film have been designed by Ritu. ?It took me three months to create the wardrobe for the 15-minute film. I had to do extensive research about the lives of the Rabaris, the inhabitants of that particular village. And you have to see the film to know how authentic the clothes look,? she said.

Magic hour

A city that has the P.C. Sorcars and K. Lals to cast a spell over it must boast a significant following for magic. So a few, at least, should be able to think beyond Charles Dickens at the mention of David Copperfield. And there are many others who have enrolled at the Hogwarts School of magic ever since J.K. Rowling started invading book stores and cinemas here. This will be of interest to both groups.

The flamboyant illusionist whom the West describes as the greatest practitioner of the art since Houdini will be featured on The History Channel on Thursday at 10 pm in its Biography series. And there is enough in the life of the man also called David Copperfield to make it an awe-inspiring hour.

Take this from the CV of the 13th highest paid entertainer in the world ? he walked through the Great Wall of China, flew through thin air, made audience members disappear and reappear in unexpected places and made the Statue of Liberty vanish?

No wonder, the late Ronald Reagan once said: ?I?d like to have David Copperfield in the White House, maybe he could make some of my problems disappear.?

What next, Manmohanomics with a little bit of magic?