Amitabh vs. Lady Gaga: Bollywood did it better!

There was a lot of hullabaloo last week regarding Lady Gaga hatching from a giant egg at the Grammy Awards before her performance of a song too reminiscent of Madonna’s Express Yourself to be considered original. With all the attention about the song being a copy of another, I say WAIT!  The egg hatching is also a copy!  Bollywood did it first, and Bollywood did it better.  You already know of  Amitabh Bachchan’s big egg reveal from Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) in My Name is Anthony Gonsalves and if not, here it is:

So readers, please vote: Who had a more magnificent hatching from a giant egg, Amitabh Bachchan,

or this other performer?

Vote karo!

 

On what Bollywood star would you tie a rakhi?

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rakhiIt’s Raksha Bandham time dosto.  Since I’m a full throttle cultural pirate of all things Indian due to my Bollywood addiction, I thought of this question for us all:  On what Bollywood star would you tie a rakhi?

Raksha Bandhan (the bond of protection in Hindi and Panjabi) is a Hindu festival, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Shraavana. The festival is marked by the tying of a rakhi, or holy thread by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The elder brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her same while an elder sister returns offers to her younger brother. The brother and sister traditionally feed each other sweets. It is not necessary that the rakhi can be given only to a brother by birth; any male can be “adopted” as a brother by tying a rakhi on the person, that is “blood brothers and sisters”, whether they are cousins or a good friend. Indian history is replete with women asking for protection, through rakhi, from men who were neither their brothers, nor Hindus themselves. (source-ji)

I recall the first time I saw this done in a movie and someone tied a super big fancy one on  Amitabh in some film.  Fancy like this:

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It was Angry young man Amitabh, so perhaps it was in Zanjeer?  I can’t recall.  Tell me if you can.  Anyway, this got me thinking about what star could offer me imaginary brotherly protection.  It was a toss up between Anupam Kher and Amrish Puri, with Paresh Rawal as third runner up for next year.  So this year I have a tie (get it, a tie? ) and tie my imaginary rakhi on Anupam Kher AND Amrish Puri.

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I choose the sacred bond with Anupam for his intelligence and ability to work in a wide range of films. He offers wisdom and humor which are qualities I’d like in a brother, plus I love his bibi, Kirron Kher, so it’s like a 2 for one. Then, I’d tie the other rakhi on Amrish Puri.  I figure since he’s dead that would be some supernatural rakhi power and protection from the other side. Who wouldn’t like Amrish Puri on their good side? Imagine if someone dared to cross you and Amrish stepping on to the scene and starting one of his outrageous villain rants on your behalf. Now that would be the limit! Yeah do you know who my brother is? I’d mention his name, and there would be no trouble.

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Now tell me the Bollywood star on whom you would you tie the sacred knot and why? You can think about your answer while you watch this rakhi scene from  Hum Saath-Saath Hain  (1999) which I haven’t seen but must:

“AIDS Sutra:Untold Stories from India” with a touch of Bollywood

http://sajablogs.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451dd1469e20105361b738b970b-800wiFor time-pass I watch a lot of movies and I also read books.  I suppose it’s normal to find stories about films in books about India, since the film industry infiltrates the culture. Even in this anthology on the serious subject of AIDS,  I was able to find a bit of very uplifting Bollywood material.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories from India, a landmark collection of essays that presents a complex and gripping picture of the disease. Sixteen of India’s most well-known literary writers go on the road to tell the story of people affected by the epidemic and the stigma that surrounds them. “This book reveals the human side of the disease,” write Bill and Melinda Gates in their introduction to this groundbreaking anthology. (source)

Bhoot Ki Kahaanian by Jaspreet Singh references Taare Zameen Par (2007).

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Return to Sonagachi by Sunil Gangopadhyay presented a delightful dilemma: where on earth do we hide the whisky?  I bet it was Johnnie Walker.  Read on to see how the dilemma reminded me a bit of Umrao Jaan (1981) and (2006):

 

 

 

 

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Now here’s the Umrao Jaan-ish part:

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(p.158)  

See!  A poetry writing prostitute with a heart of gold, just like Umrao Jaan.

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Love in the Time of Positives by Nalini Jones baghban00 describes how Baghban (2003), and in particular the part played by  Salman Khan, ended up saving someone’s life.

On the day he planned to die, he decided to spend his last afternoon at the movies. Basavaraj described the film he saw at great length-a family drama starring Amitabh Bachchan called Baghban. It is the story of loving parents who give everything they have to their son and look froward to a happy old age.  But their children have grown selfish, caught up in their own concerns, and the parents are left destitute until an unlikely saviour, a street boy the couple had adopted and educated, comes to their rescue.  Sitting alone in the theater, Basavaraj began to worry about this own parents. He realised he was their only son, their best hope for ‘a good old age’. He wanted to be like the adopted boy in the film, the only one who doesn’t forget what he owes his family.  Basavaraj went home, threw out the pills, pored away the alcohol, and cast himself as the unlikely saviour- the son who is secretly HIV positive. (source p.320)

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So if you’ve seen Baghban, I suppose the credit would go to Salman Khan  for saving the life of Basavaraj! Who would have thought!?  I wonder if Salman-ji knows about this.

 

The Daughters of Yellamma by William Dalrymple includes an Amitabh Bachchan siting!  In some parts of India young girls are “married” or dedicated to the temple goddess as prostitutes.  Dalrymple interviews one of the women and she recalls the time she lived in Bombay:

I ate fabulous biryani at the Sagar Hotel and once when I was in the streets I saw Amitabh Bachchan pass by in his car. (p. 226)

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As much as I enjoyed to Sunil Gangopadhyay’s piece, I enjoyed The Last of the Ustaads by Aman Sethi which both mentions and pays a great tribute to Gadar, Ek Prem Katha (2001).  Maybe I loved Sethi’s piece so much because Gadar is one of my favorite movies.

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Questioning the plight of truck drivers in India and their higher tendency to have HIV than the general population, Sethi interviews a truck driver:

Is it just ‘modern life’? When finding answers to sudhcomplex questions in a country infested with faux holy men, one must turn to the sole oracle of truth—Bollywood super hit film Gadar: Ek Prem Katha(Gadar: A Love Story), Tara Singh the truck driver, played by trucker demigod Sunny Deol, is asked a poignant question by Partition refugee Sakina, played by Amisha Patel.  ‘Tara Singhji,’ she asks as sh expertly ties hi turban, ‘why don’t you get married?’ Tho this, Tara Singh shakes his turbaned head, and gives her an answer that made practically every truck driver in India nod his head approvingly and say ‘Wah!’ ‘Madamji,’ says Tara Singh, ‘I live in Khana Buddur; today my truck is parked here, but tomorrow I might  be in Delhi. After that why would anyone want to marry a truck driver?’ Thought the movie is set in 1947, Tara Singh’s question touches upon an issue that is relevant even today.  Truck drivers aren’t particularly discriminated against when it comes to marriage partners; but some of the younger drivers I spoke with said that finding partners was becoming harder and harder.  I watched Gadar on the recommendation of Sanjay and some of his friends Played out against the backdrop of the Partition riots in 1947 in the border states of India and Pakistan, Gadar tells the tale of how a heroic Jat-Sikh truck driver rescues a wealthy Muslim girl from a rampaging mob; wins her trust, marries her, rescues her once more–this time from her rampaging father–and finally settles down, in a happy ending. While several films have had their heroes careen up and down highways in trucks, the heroes. are rarely truck drivers;l the truck just happens to be the closest vehicle at had to make good their escape, rescue their lovers, or run over their enemies.  Gadar is perhaps the only mainstream hit in which the protagonist is a truck driver who proves to be a good husband, father, patriot, and all round nice guy.  Unfortunately, Gadar  too starts with Tara Singh accepting that fate has dealt him a poor hand by making him a truck driver.  He obligingly sings and dances and plays the part of the happy truck driver, but he understands the distance between him and the object of his desire.  As he says, ‘Even if I wanted to, I can’t touch the moon, can I?’ The rest of the plot is a story of redemption–of proving that truck drivers are honourable, powerful , and patriotic.  Why does truck driving lack izzat?  Why are truck drivers victims of negative stereotypes?  Is it class? Is it their association with a high-risk behavior group? Does, in fact, being categorised as  a high-risk group stigmatise them even further? From Gadar to their portrayal in the Indian press, truckers are regarded as rough and ready and reckless, dirty and dissolute.  Prone to drink, driving accidents–and now disease. (p. 306-7)

For more about the book,  read a review  from The Telegraph, Calcutta India, and another from The Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. Listen to the NPR Podcast on the book: ‘AIDS Sutra’ Challenges Widespread Denial In India’

Also, if you want to get filmy with it, here’s something else.

The AIDS Jaago (AIDS Awake) project is four short dramatic films which aim to dismantle myths and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. These films were funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and made by acclaimed Indian filmmakers Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding; The Namesake), Vishal Bhardwaj, Santosh Sivan and Farhan Akhtar. Designed to use the immense power of moviemaking to wake people up about AIDS, the project was the brainchild of Mira Nair and was produced by her company Mirabai Films. (source)

Watch for Free on Jaman HERE

other Bollywood Movies on HIV

Bollywood Insider for May, 2009

Here’s the latest chugli from Suzi Mann with Bollywood Insider for May, 2009:

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Click on the links below to find out more.

Bollywood Insider Friday 01 May 2009Tributes from stars to Feroz Khan, IIFA venue and nominations announced, Shahrukh takes IPL break to cast vote

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Bollywood Insider Friday 15 May 2009:  Our Insiders at Cannes bring us Aishwarya and Abishek on the red carpet – IPL filling movie void with Shahrukh, Shilpa, and Preity

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Bollywood Insider Friday 22 May 2009:  This week in Cannes, we ask Barbara Mori and Hrithik Roshan about ‘those’ rumours, and speak to them about all things ‘Kites’

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Bollywood Insider Friday 29 May 2009:  Bipasha Basu gets together with Billy Zane – Kal Kisne Dekha – It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

Aamir (2008) asks, “Does every man write his own destiny?”

 Aamir (2008) is a gritty parallel cinema film shot in real time that questions whether every man creates his own destiny using an act of terrorism and the crowded streets of Mumbai as a backdrop.  

The film aamirrevolves around a young Muslim man Dr. Aamir Ali who has returned to Mumbai from United Kingdom and finds himself at the mercy of religious extremists who want to carry out a bombing in the city. The movie deals with the problems of the Muslim community in modern India and the increasing religious polarization in the country. (source)

It’s directed by Raj Kumar Gupta and stars Indian TV actor Rajeev Khandelwal, making his Bollywood  Indian Film Industry debut.  I did manage to find the masala style fun within the arthouse film with the small scene of a cabbie obsessed with baseball cap wearing, playback singer, Himesh Reshammiya.aamirhimesh

aamirphoneI really don’t want to write much about this film, in order to avoid spoiling anything.  I will say that it starts out with handsome young NRI  doctor named Aamir being thrown a phone while he waits outside the airport in Mumbai.  Should this ever happen to you, I advise that you try to avoid catching the phone. In case you accidentally catch it, drop the phone and DO NOT ANSWER IT! Do NOT take the call! But Aamir DID take the call and the movie continues on with its tense story. While watching it, I just kept thinking, “how gritty!” And, “I wonder how one says gritty in Hindi?” Yaar, the film is really gritty hai! That’s all I want to get across. 

For a real write up of the film go HERE or, read Subhash K. Jha ‘s review HERE.

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This film was only about 90 minutes, a short story in the realm of Indian Films, and like most parallel cinema, it lacks item numbers.  It does contain some great music though, and  I especially liked the tune “Ha Raham (Mehfuz)” sung by Murtuza-Qadir, Amitabh & Amit Trivedi.  This song is currently stuck in my head.  Dig it:

Here are some of the lyrics translated from Urdu (sounds Urdu, maybe it’s Hindi though) into English, thanks to Simranjeet. They are a bit different from the subtitles the version I saw had, but you can get the idea.

Allah… aani jaani… hai kahaani…
(the stories of life will keep coming and going…)
bulbule si… zindgaani…
(and life is nothing but a bubble ready to burst…)
banti kabhi bigadti…
(…forming, and sometimes de-flating…)
tez hawa se ladti, bhidti…
(…fighting with and entangled in the strong winds…)

ha raham, ha raham, farma e-Khuda…
(remember Him, and keep chanting his name…)
ha raham, ha raham, farma e-Khuda…
mehfuz har kadam karna e-Khuda, e-Khuda
(… and He’ll make sure each step you take is a safe one…)
mehfuz har kadam karna e-Khuda, e-Khuda…

The entire lyrics are translated HERE.

HERE’S a version where you can see the band performing the same tune. 

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 Here’s the film’s trailer:

I recommend taking the time to watch the making of the movie section of the supplemental material since it contains interesting interviews with the director and crew members and shows how they shot the scenes in the Mumbai slums. Gritty.

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I feel the same way Aamir, I don’t want to be a leader, I’m just an ordinary woman.

Have you see this movie? What did you think of it?  Nicki from Hmong chick who loves Indian Cinema did a great post on Aamir and compares it to the Filipino film, Cavite (2005), that it was fashioned after.   For more blogolicious insight on  Aamir ( as well as Aamir) go to TheBollywoodFan. And for an extremely insightful and  thought provoking review of the film from someone who  grew up in the Chor Bazar, Bhendi Bazar, and Dongri areas where the film was shot, see Banno’s Aamir post.

Janani (2006)

A delightful tale of a brother accidentally dating his own sister.jananititle1

Namaste! I want to save you a little time.  Since I sacrificed my time and watched Janani (2006), I don’t really see the need for you to do the same, unless of course this little review compels you to watch Janani, then by  all means watch karo!  I kept delaying my returning this movie to Netflix, since I knew there was a lot of groundbreaking screen capping to do, which I finally got around to and I offer to you now. I got this movie after doing a search for the sweetheart of Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989), Bhagyashree.  I’ve always wanted to see more of her after Maine Pyaar Kiya, and remember reading this about her: Her career took a down turn after she started insisting on doing roles only opposite her husband Himalaya Dasani. Since then she only acted in television serials. (source) Well you know I had to find a sample of them together, and here it is, Bhagyashree and her real life husband:

How did you like those phones? Now back to Janani!  Janani popped up in my Bhagyashree search and since I saw Mohnish Behl co starred, it was a no brainer to order it.   Most important of all,  Bhagyashree and Mohnish looked fantastic.  They’re both even more attractive than when they appeared together in Maine Pyaar Kiya.  This film seemed like it was a made for TV movie, and it was surprising that there was even any information about it out there on the web, but I did find things and I particularly enjoyed this review.  A nice feature to the DVD was the option to, Select your own end. First time on DVD.  Well it was the first time I’d seen that and I elected to see the Heartbreaking Ending first, knowing I could temper the sorrow with a 2nd viewing of the Heavenly Ending. Which ending would you choose?

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Here’s how the story goes; Rahul (Vineet Raina) and Neha (Sonica Handa) go on a date to the go cart track. There’s dancing, and lots of good clean fun.  There’s also quite a bit of sexual tension on the date, since Neha doesn’t wear too many clothes and when she does they are very revealing.  As you may predict, a go carting date leads to them consummating their relationship in the shower.

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Rahul brings Naha home to meet his parents, Urmila ( Ayesha Julka who I remember from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar) and Raj (Behl), who ask a few questions about her.

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Initially polite, they take a sudden turn when they find out who Neha’s mom is.

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Stupid Rahul thinks it’s a class issue, so naive!

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He thinks it’s their fancy toy company, in fact the best and leading toy company of India, that’s making his parents have their adverse reaction to Neha. At this point I was thinking  Nahin Rahul, the best and leading toy company of India was owned by Amitabh in Waqt: The Race Against Time. I distinctly recall him holding a stuffed giraffe from his factory in that film, so how could YOUR family have the leading toy company? Back to Janani, sorry. OK. so here’s the reason Neha has to go:

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Don’t you hate when that happens? So Rahul freaks out, runs out of the mansion and drives off really fast on his motorcycle and generally acts suicidal. He’s completely unhinged, knowing he’s committed incest with Neha, but luckily he runs into a group of vagrant sufis singing an inspirational qawwali. I searched to find this song online so I could include the video, but haven’t found it yet.  In fact the only clips I could find were the shower scene described above.  Go figure.

Meanwhile, we need to learn a bit about Neha’s mom, Akanksha (Bhagyashree).  Akanksha used to work in India’s best and leading toy company back in the day with Rahul’s mom.  Akanksha was Urmila’s assistant and it seems that her husband, Tarun, also worked at this company.  Akanksha and her husband Tarun (Aman Verma) have a son, also named Rahul.  He’s also a go carting fan, but he has some trouble one day during a race, since he’s dizzy from a brain tumor.

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Akanksha and Tarun can’t afford the expensive brain tumor surgery, so rich co-workers/friends Urmila and Raj step in and pay for it.  Akanksha goes to their home to thank them, and as is traditional in Bollywood films, she overhears some important information; Urmila is infertile, but desperately wants a baby and brings the following idea to Raj:

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Raj will not go for this idea.  He questions how his offspring can be correctly nurtured in another woman’s womb since they would not know her morals or beliefs.  Urmila is distraught and begs him and the whole scene seems hopeless.  Akanksha knows that her little Rahul’s life was just saved thanks to  them funding the brain tumor surgery.  She really is indebted to them and wants to help.  Akanksha, just overhearing their dilemma goes to the temple and has a plan that she runs by her  mother in law first.

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Then with approval of her mother in law and husband, she goes to tell Urmila and Raj her plan and they’re like Say what?

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So she’s carrying Raj’s baby, through artificial means, and then the unthinkable happens! Her son Rahul  (Master Smith Seth) ends up dying, despite the pricey brain tumor surgery. Hota hai, but still, a bummer.

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With her own son now dead, and now with the new baby she promised to Urmila here, Akanksha changes her mind and decides to keep the new baby, even name him Rahul, since her Rahul’s spirit went into this new baby anyway. I guess you could call her an Indian giver. Sorry to be offensive, but it was too funny to resist.

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Akanksha’s decision reversal drives Urmila to insanity, since who would she be if not a mother?  The Dr. comes by and sedates her a lot since she’s berserk / pagal without her promised baby. What more can they do?

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Raj makes an appeal to Aksnksha, and begs her to give Urmila the baby.  I especially like the picture on the wall of dead brain tumor Rahul that you can see here:

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Just look how great Behl and Bhagyashree look here:

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Yes, she eventually ends up giving Rahul to Urmila and Raj and then goes to work as a nurse.  To add a little more trauma, her husband and mother in law are killed in a car crash.  To ease the pain, Akanksha adopts little baby orphan Neha, and raises her as her own.  Now, fast forward to real time and Akanksha’s daughter, Neha, tells her mom what just happened at Rahul’s home and how his parents reacted to her.  Akanksha tells Neha the tale of her past.  Neha, thinking she’s Rahul’s biological sister, and knowing what they did in the shower is now, like Rahul,  also suicidal.

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jananigun4Her mom tells her that she was merely a surrogate mother to Rahul and that Neha is adopted, so they are NOT siblings after all. Phew!  Neha frantically calls Rahul with the good news, but he’s too busy trying to shoot himself that he won’t answer his phone.  They speed to his home and break down the door only to find…

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So I’ve told you most of the movie, but from these last pictures, you have to wonder how it all ends?

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I’d love to hear from anyone who has taken the time to watch this film.  What did you think? And if you haven’t seen it, don’t you almost want to see it now?

Get well soon SRK-ji! With Love from, Amitabh, me and the readers!

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“Shah Rukh’s surgery went off fine and he should be back home in two days. However, he will require some good rest for a long period and he has been advised not to do any strenuous work,” said Sanjay Desai, orthopaedic surgeon at Breach Candy Hospital here. (The Hindu)

This blog is all about cutting and pasting today friends. I mean it often is, but today more so than usual:

Prayers For Shahrukh Khan’s Speedy Recovery:  Prayers were performed at a hair-cutting saloon in Bhopal to wish a speedy recovery of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan, who underwent a successful shoulder surgery on Monday.  Naresh Sen, a barber in the saloon said that Khan had inspired their community to become successful through his film Billu. “The havan(ritual) which I performed was for Shahrukh Khan to live a longer life. He will live much longer. I performed this ritual in my saloon because he has given us inspiration through his film Billuand an opportunity for the poor class to move forward.” said Naresh. The 43-year-old actor underwent an arthroscopic surgery on left shoulder, which kept nagging him for quite sometime. Doctors at the Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital said Khan was recovering well. The operation lasted for around one-and-a-half hours by a team of three doctors, a hospital official said.  Before he left for the hospital Khan said that getting injured was part of his job.   “I think when you working in a profession like this you ought to fall and jump. It is obvious you can get wounded like this. So I always believe this is a payment for all the goodness that I get,” said Khan. (Hindustan Times)

First off, could Amitabh be looking any cooler than in these photos of him posted on his blog recently?ab1

I think we all have to admit that he can even rock that cartoon bear sweater and not only get away with it, but somehow make it look cool.  Who can do that?!  Amitabh Bachchan can. More cut and paste, this time from Mr. Bachchan’s blog from day 300 in which he writes about ShahRukh Khan’s successful surgery:

ShahRukh has been in  hospital for a surgery. I had sent him a message for his speedy recovery. He calls back to thank and inform that he is home. Was getting depressed in hospital he says so came away. Oh ! I was planning on visiting you in hospital. Come home sir, we shall play some games. Do not take after surgery too lightly I warn him, take rest and do not get into any kind of activity. He sounds a little groggy. I shall visit him tomorrow. (bigb.bigadda.com)

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Great to think about Amitabh stopping over a Mannat for a few games.  Perhaps Parchisi? Or maybe Snakes and Ladders?

Speaking of, I recently read a good book with the same title, Snakes and Ladders, by Gita Mehta which you may like reading, since you are here in the first place. 

Or maybe they’d play some Texas hold em?  Or what about this game here which I’ve seen in the Indian films called carrom? Well probably carrom is out until his shoulder is fully healed.

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I love imaging playing some table games with SRK and Amitabh at Mannat!  I spent an evening playing dominoes the other night, which I love to do.  Now, since reading the posting on Amitabh’s blog, I’m thinking how fun it would be to play dominoes with Amitabh and SRK.  Or spades or hearts!  My mind is spinning with the possibilities now that I know they’re both gamers. I also love a jigsaw puzzle. Can you imagine THAT?  “Hey Amit-ji, here’s another edge piece.”  I just know that Amitabh would have the sense to construct the edge of the puzzle first.  “Aur SRK, are you still working on the sky?  Here’s a couple blue pieces. Vay!”   We’d finish the puzzle whilst sipping on Johnnie Walker, black or perhaps even blue or green label since they are so fancy.  We’d discuss many things.  I would mind my tongue and casually say The Indian Film Industry and NEVER say Bollywood, as that may set off the stars.  I would ask even more fake casually if they wanted to play chess (which I can’t play) and say, “Oh by the way, Amit-ji, I remember when watching  The Chess Players, that I heard your voice narrating.  Do tell me what you remember about working with Satyajit Ray on that piece?”   His head would snap and look to me, thinking suddenly that I had some Bollywood, I mean Indian Film Industry street cred. The lovely Gauri Khan would slip in from time to time with some ladoos, maybe a paratha or two and some chai.  Not the help, but Guari, because she’s a hands on wife I’m sure. Finally, late into the evening, Gauri comes in and says, “Janeman ShahRukh, time to rest, remember you just had surgery! OK guys, Amitabh-ji, Sita-ji, thanks so much for stopping by. The flowers are lovely!  Do come tomorrow for a swim!”

On that note, like Amitabh, I say to SRK along with you all, “take rest and do not get into any kind of activity.”  Get well soon, we need more movies!

INDIA-ARTS-CINEMA