February 27, 2009 at 3:12 am (cinema) (, , )

Every passenger who came out of the Chennai airport in the wee hours of Thursday would have been surprised to see a wide awake crowd greeting them with drumbeats and screams. It was a rehearsal to welcome the man whose luggage included two identical statuettes – 13.5 inches tall weighing 8.5 pounds.

When the display screen flashed the arrival of Emirates flight EK-542, the entrance of the arrival hall was besieged. The excitement was just beginning. Around 50 persons, who had bought passes to enter the airport, managed to reach the entrance of the aerobridge. They were the first to catch a glimpse of Kodambakkam’s pride, who summed up his life’s journey on the world stage as: “All my life I had a choice between hate and love. I chose love and I am here.” At a press conference later in the evening, A.R. Rahman explained that this choice was the governing philosophy of his life. “Every decision in my life has been like that.” Especially, in a world divided by religious, caste and regional identities, the message of love seemed appropriate. “My dream is to connect people with music.” He had not expected ‘Jai Ho’ to win; rather, he had no expectations. The approach of not thinking about awards, money and fortune while making music seemed to work for him, he said. Replying to the grouse of some Indian audiences that ‘Jai Ho’ was nowhere near his best work, he said, “Your sensibility found other tracks good,” and Western sensibilities loved Slumdog’s tunes. He said that Slumdog was his “career best” when it came to music for a Hollywood audience. And the lyrics ‘Jai Ho’ had a phonetic appeal that transcended any language barriers. “The song is a release of extraordinary energy.” After an exhausting journey through ups and downs, the movie ends with a “burst of joy” in this song.

As to why some Indian audiences did not think highly of the movie, he said that though he disagreed, people were entitled to their views


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A.R.Rahman tunes

February 26, 2009 at 3:01 am (cinema) (, , , , , , )


Even as the nation celebrates the limelight hogged by A.R.Rahman at the Oscars, a group of filmmakers in the industry are on cloud nine. For, these are the people who have signed the Oscar-winner for their impending movies. Gautam Menon, one of the handful to have roped him in, says the award is a recognition for all his works. “Oscar for him is not just for Slumdog Millionaire. The award sums up his extraordinary work in all the movies he has worked in.” Calling himself a “fan of Rahman right from his maiden album,” Gautam says signing him for the Simbu-starrer ‘Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa’ was a dream come true. “I wanted him to score music for my first film. I am glad it has worked out now.” Irrespective of the ‘Oscar’ tag, the music wizard’s albums would always record high sales. “I have an entire collection of Rahman’s albums. I think many Indians would. We are all happy about his Oscars, no doubt. But there is no question of boost in marketability of our album. If it is Rahman, cassettes will anyway sell like hot cakes.” For ‘Endhiran’, the banner is just getting bigger. Directed by Shankar, with Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the lead, the movie is set to take the masses by storm with its top-slot cast and technology crew including Stan Winston Studio for Animatronics and Yuen Woo Ping, for the stunt sequences. Rahman’s Oscar has now added a great deal to the movie’s grandeur. Actor Rajinikanth’s daughter Soundarya has a reason to cheer, too. ‘Sultan the Warrior,’ the animation movie starring her father jointly produced by her company – Ocher Studio, will now have an Oscar connection, with Rahman handling the background score. “I was ecstatic when I saw Rahman sir win the Oscar. He deserves this and much more. He is a great human being,” she says, adding: “His winning the Oscar will surely add value to all the productions he is involved in and as he said in one of his interviews, his quality will remain the same, no matter which awards come by. I am a great fan [of his] and it is an honour and a blessing for me to be working with him on my directorial debut.”

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Valkyrie review

February 25, 2009 at 4:13 am (cinema) (, , , )

In director Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie, Tom Cruise plays Claus von Stauffenberg, a veteran colonel of the German campaign in North Africa, who spearheads a group of high-ranking German officers in a plot to assassinate Hitler at his Wolf’s Lair headquarters in 1944. An old-fashioned World War II movie, Valkyrie is one of those rare tales about the German Resistance that addresses the overlooked heroism of officers and soldiers who actively fought Hitler and his regime from within the ranks of power.
The film works well as a suspense thriller although, this being a chapter out of history, you know how the story ends. And hence the intrigue in Valkyrie lies in the execution of the assassination plot. It’s from the point where Stauffenberg gets nearer and nearer to Hitler with his briefcase bomb that the film really takes off. As with the director’s last film, Superman Returns, this one too is admirably directed and technically solid, but there’s an emotional connect that is clearly missing. For one, Tom Cruise’s American accent is jarring, and two, his superstar persona clearly eclipses the German legend.
It’s difficult to appreciate Stauffenberg’s commitment to the mission because it’s never quite Stauffenberg you see on screen, it’s Cruise playing Stauffenberg in a Nazi uniform, an eye-patch and a stump for an arm. For those with a keen interest in history, Valkyrie may prove an engaging watch. But it is really at best an above average thriller with some gripping moments.

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Pavan Kalyan Marries

February 19, 2009 at 3:37 am (cinema) (, , , )


Actor and Praja Rajyam party leader Pavan Kalyan on Wednesday finally tied the knot with his live-in partner and former actress Renu Desai. The marriage, Pavan’s second, took place at the actor’s house in Jubilee Hills in the presence of a few family members and film personalities. Pavan is the youngest brother of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi and president of Praja Rajyam’s youth wing. Chiranjeevi, who floated Praja Rajyam last year, his brother Nagababu, and other family members attended the marriage performed as per Hindu customs. With elections fast approaching, Pavan Kalyan’s marriage to Renu seems to be a move to blunt the criticism by rival political parties. The actor was criticised by leaders of different parties for living with a woman without marrying her. The couple also has a five-year-old son. Sources close to the family said Pavan could not marry Renu till now due to legal hassles, as he was already married to Nandini. The differences with Nandini’s finally led to divorce last year. The 38-year-old had married Nandini before launching his film career in 1996. Nandini had filed a case of bigamy against Pavan, alleging that he had married another woman without divorcing her. A court in Visakhapatnam, however, dismissed the bigamy case due to lack of evidence. Renu had also told the court that they were not married. Pavan later initiated divorce proceedings and struck an out-of-court settlement with Nandini in August last year by reportedly paying her Rs 50 million.

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Salma Hayek weds

February 18, 2009 at 6:30 am (cinema) (, )


Mexican actress Salma Hayek has married on-off fiance Francois-Henri Pinaul in a surprise ceremony in Paris on Valentine’s Day.

The Mexican actress, 42, and the French billionaire, 46, married in the City Hall in the St. Germain area of the French capital Saturday, reports dailymail.co.uk.

The decision to wed on Valentine’s Day also has a special meaning for the couple, as their 17-month-old daughter is named Valentina.

News of their marriage comes as a surprise after they publicly announced the end of their engagement last July.

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