OTHERS

Star maker does it again

AFTER URMILA Matondkar (``Rangeela''), Manoj Bajpai (``Satya'') and Aftaab Shivdasani (``Mast''), it is Fardeen Khan's turn to be resurrected by Ram Gopal Varma with ``Jungle''. He is still recovering from the ravage of his designer launch by daddy Feroz Khan in ``Prem Aggan''. Natural and comfortable with the dialogues, he is easy on the eyes. Fardeen stands to benefit from ``Jungle'' and already has eight ambitious projects in the pipeline. Better performances come from the supporting cast. Rajpal Yadav, Makarand Deshpande and Kashmira Shah are excellent, but the film eventually belongs to the director. Sensitive and thought-provoking, Ram Gopal Varma, yet again explores a novel subject. This one has been inspired by the sandalwood smuggler Veerappan's life and shot in the dense, dark forests of Malshejghat and Bhushankar. Amidst wildlife and force commandos, ``Jungle'' is spine-chilling, delving into the psyche of a terrorist. Within the folds of a simple love story, the film tells the savagery within human beings. Barbaric, yet poignant!

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Kiron Kher sounded exhausted with excitement when I phoned to congratulate her for the best actress National Award in ``Bariwali''. I remember the afternoon when director Rituparno Ghosh had dropped by to narrate the story to her. We were travelling for an inaugural function to town later in the evening and she had revealed flashes of the story to me. She felt superstitious that if she got too excited, the role would slip out of her hand. Nothing so dramatic happened. Three months later, Kiron left for Calcutta on a start-to-finish schedule, carrying her Bengali books with her, anxious but determined to give it her best shot. The director found her sincerity moving. ``When she wasn't shooting for the film, she was learning her lines or working on her character,'' Ghosh revealed to me months after the film was completed. ``She is hesitant, slightly unsure but a passionate performer.''

The same can be said about Sarika Hasan, winner of this year's National Award for costumes in husband Kamal Hasan's ``Hey!Ram''. Her first after 15 years and ten films as uncredited audiographer, (of which ``Thevar Magan'' and ``Mahanadi'' won National Awards). The belated acknowledgement after a dozen-and-a-half films as costume designer, (``Appu Raja'', ``Indian'', ``Hindustani'', ``Chachi 420'' in Hindi and ``Gunah'', ``Mahanadhi'', ``Kurudhi Punal'' and ``Thevar Magan'' in Tamil). The child star who was recognised as a glamorous star of Hindi cinema finally carves a niche for herself with the endorsement of the award. The actress was visiting Mumbai and despite the zing in her voice, there was an unmistakable disappointment when I phoned her.

``The art director of the film Sabu Cyril and I worked in proximity that it is difficult to demarcate where the art department ended and the costume department took over. Our duties overlapped and everything was so synchronised, that the joy of winning the award is incomplete without Sabu Cyril being included in the honour.''

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Abhishek Bachchan seems to be a man in a hurry. Currently shooting for debut director Guru's two-month's schedule in Manali with newcomer Hrishita Bhatt, Junior Bachchan is wanting to make up for the loss in time caused by his first film ``Refugee''. Abhishek has a release slated every month. Vashu Bhagnani's ``Tera Jadoo Chal Gaya'' in August and Raj Kanwar's ``Dhai Akshar Prem Ka'' in September, followed by Goldie Behl and later Guru's under production.

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Leela Chitnis remembered for her memorable films ``Achyut Kanya'', ``Azad'', ``Bandhan'' and ``Jhoola'' is in the news again. Many summers ago, I mentioned about the poverty-stricken condition in which she existed.

A generous couple in Bangalore read the story and contacted me offering to adopt the ageing actress. But the proud actress declined the offer. Now almost five years later, the glamorous- grandmom of television, Shashikala, returns from her trip to the U.S., with the sad news of Leela Chitnis ailing in a home for the aged in Connecticut.

Shopping at a supermarket, Shashikala learnt about her from an Indian grocer and tracked her down. ``She is in no condition to recognise anyone and is attended to by a solitary nurse'', informs a distressed Shashikala. The last time I had questioned the Cine Artistes' Association about the plight of our senior artistes, I was lambasted with angry letters. This time, I will not make the mistake. I address the question to the readers. Must we do this to our elders?

BHAWANA SOMAAYA

Editor, `g' Magazine