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Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra in Disney’s animated ‘Planes’


August 6, 2013


Priyanka Chopra
Bollywood movie star Priyanka Chopra has a prominent voice-over role in Disney's new animated film Planes, which releases August 9. Chopra's character, the plane Ishani, is the love interest of the film's hero, Dusty Cropper. Of late, Chopra has been pursuing a music career in the U.S. Last year, she signed with a Los Angeles-based entertainment and sports agency and became the first Bollywood actor to win a major record deal in the U.S. Her first single, "In My City", featuring American rapper will.i.am, debuted last September as the featured song for the National Football League's Thursday Night Football series. Her second single, "Exotic," featuring American rapper Pitbull, released in July and was chosen as the theme song for this summer's International Champions Cup soccer tournament in Valencia, Spain. The video for "Exotic" was shot in Miami, Florida. Chopra is a Miss World pageant winner (2000) and an award-winning Indian actress who has starred in numerous critical and commercial hits, including 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), Kaminey (2009), Dostana (2008), Fashion (2008), and Don (2006).


Bollywood’s ‘Oscars’ coming to Tampa in 2014, first time in U.S.


August 3, 2013


Shahrukh Khan at 2013 IIFA in Macau
The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) has announced that its annual awards ceremony will take place in Tampa, Florida next June—the first time the four-day gala will be held in the U.S. The IIFA awards ceremony, which honors artistic and technical achievement in the Hindi film industry known as Bollywood, takes place in a different city outside of India every year in an effort to promote Hindi cinema around the world. In past years, it has been held in London, Amsterdam, and Johannesburg. The 2013 event was in Macau, China. Tampa's competition for the 2014 event included Melbourne, Australia, as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The IIFA awards has an estimated global viewership of more than 800 million and is expected to be an economic boon to the city of Tampa, which has hosted four Super Bowls and the Republican National Convention.


Bollywood’s ‘Barfi!’ picked as India’s official entry to Oscars


September 23, 2012


Barfi!
Bollywood romantic comedy Barfi!, directed by Anurag Basu and starring Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, has been chosen as India's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 85th Academy Awards in 2013. Barfi!—a commercial hit produced by Disney UTV Studios that released on Sept. 14—is a love story about a deaf, mute man and his autistic girlfriend. The Chaplinesque lead character, played by Ranbir Kapoor, harkens to the actor's grandfather, film icon Raj Kapoor, who had his own famous take on Chaplin's Tramp. The director's previous films include Life in a… Metro (2007) and Kites (2010). The Film Federation of India, which chooses India’s Oscar submissions, is an umbrella trade organization that represents all of India’s many film industries (of which Bollywood is only one). Barfi! beat out 19 other films that were under consideration. The last Hindi film to be selected as India's entry to the Academy Awards was Peepli Live (2010), which was produced by Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan. An Indian film has only been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film three times in the history of the award: Mother India in 1957, Salaam Bombay in 1988, and Lagaan in 2001. None of them won.


U.S. premiere of Bollywood’s ‘Heroine’ at Chicago film festival


September 5, 2012


Heroine
Upcoming Bollywood release Heroine, starring Kareena Kapoor and Arjun Rampal, will premiere in the U.S. at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival on September 20. The annual festival, now in its third year, will screen Heroine on its opening night at 7 pm at the Showplace Icon Theater (150 W. Roosevelt) in Chicago. The feature will be preceded by a red carpet event at 6 pm and following by a reception at 10 pm, both at the theater. A special discussion about the film and its themes will take place after the screening with acclaimed lyricist and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar and Heroine cast member Lillete Dubey. The four-day festival will present 24 films, including five world premieres, eight U.S. premieres, and 11 Chicago premieres. The films will be shown at Showplace Icon Theaters and Film Row Cinema (Columbia College Chicago). For the full list of film selections, visit csaff.org/film-guide. For more information on the festival, visit www.csaff.org. The director of Heroine, Madhur Bhandarkar, is known for hard-hitting social commentaries about such subjects as imprisonment, prostitution, the underbelly of the modeling industry, and cutthroat celebrity journalism. His films usually revolve around a female protagonist. In Heroine, he turns his lens on the movie business. Heroine has been a long time in the making. While the director was originally in talks with Kareena Kapoor to play the lead, actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was eventually cast in the role and had done a great deal of shooting before she was let go from the film because she became pregnant with her first child—a daughter, Aaradhya, born in 2011. Kapoor was then cast to replace Bachchan. Heroine will be widely released worldwide on September 21.


Bollywood’s Aamir Khan shooting ‘Dhoom 3’ in Chicago


August 19, 2012


Aamir Khan in Chicago
Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan is in Chicago shooting scenes for his upcoming action film, Dhoom 3: Back in Action, in which Khan plays the villain. The actor arrived in Chicago in early August and will reportedly be in town working on the film until October. His co-stars Katrina Kaif and Abhishek Bachchan are expected to arrive in Chicago soon to shoot their scenes. The film is the third installment of the successful Dhoom franchise. Bachchan stars as the police protagonist in each film, with Uday Chopra playing his sidekick. The first Dhoom (2004), set in Mumbai and Goa, starred John Abraham as the villain. Hrithik Roshan played the thief in Dhoom 2 (2006)—set in South Africa, India, and Brazil—alongside actress Aishwarya Rai. While Rai is not in Dhoom 3, she is expected to accompany Bachchan, her husband, to Chicago, along with their baby daughter Aaradhya. The Bachchans are friends with Chicago local Oprah Winfrey and have appeared on her show in the past. Khan's family—his wife Kiran Rao and their infant son Azaad—have also joined him in Chicago, where they are reportedly renting an apartment for their stay. Dhoom 3 is filming at Wabash and Randolph; on lower Michigan Ave., from South Water to Hubbard St.; on lower Wacker, from Lake Shore Dr. to Post Place; on Hubbard St., from lower Michigan to Rush; and on mid-level Wacker, from Columbus to Michigan, in Chicago. Dhoom 3 is scheduled to release in early 2013.


Bollywood's 'Devdas' in 'Time' list of best millennium movies


May 24, 2012


Devdas
Time magazine ranked Bollywood film Devdas (2002)—starring Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Madhuri Dixit—among the top 10 movies of the millennium so far. Devdas, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, took the No. 8 spot and was the only Indian film on the list, which was published in May. Time film critic Richard Corliss also picked such films as Avatar (2009), The Hurt Locker (2009), Moulin Rouge (2001), The Artist (2011), and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Corliss described Khan as an "all-world charismatist" and Madhuri as "a hot number who had danced flamenco on men's libidos for a decade or so before appearing in this worldly-wise role." "Devdas is a visual ravishment, with sumptuous sets, fabulous frocks and beautiful people to fill them; it has a grandeur the old Hollywood moguls would have loved," Corliss wrote. At the time of its release, Devdas was the most expensive Bollywood film ever made. It is an adaptation of the novella of the same name, written in 1917 by Bengali author Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. The novella has been adapted to film 12 times, in various Indian languages, including three Hindi versions.


Bollywood to splash at Cannes film festival


April 28, 2012


Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at Cannes 2011
Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, and Arjun Rampal are expected to make appearances at this year's Cannes International Film Festival, which runs from May 16-21, and director Anurag Kashyap, one of India's most exciting experimental filmmakers, has been invited to bring his upcoming Hindi film Gangs of Wasseypur to the festival this year. Bachchan has been a regular at Cannes—the prestigious, highly-publicized film festival held annually in Cannes, France—for the last decade, beginning in 2002, when her film Devdas was screened at the event and she became the first Indian actress to serve as a Cannes jury member. Her red-carpet appearances at Cannes have caused a sensation—for good and bad—ever since. Basu will be in attendance to promote her upcoming English-language film Singularity, directed by the Oscar-nominated Roland Joffe. In the film—an Anglo-Indian romantic historical epic/time-travel adventure—Basu makes her Hollywood debut opposite American actor Josh Hartnett. Basu previously attended Cannes in 2007. Rampal will appear at the event as the ambassador for the liquor brand Chivas, one of the festival's sponsors.


Bollywood’s Baby Bachchan to debut on Oprah?


April 19, 2012


Oprah Winfrey in India
There's major buzz that the baby daughter of Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan may be introduced to the world this Sunday on Oprah Winfrey's newest show, Oprah's Next Chapter. Oprah traveled to India for the first time last January to shoot an episode about India, and the talk-show queen met with Bollywood royalty. Aishwarya—often referred to as "the most beautiful woman in the world"—was featured in the teaser promo for the episode. The actress was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show twice, first in 2005 and then in 2009 with her husband Abhishek. The Bachchans' daughter—the first child of their five-year marriage—has been the subject of fascination since her birth last November, but she's been kept largely hidden from the public—with the exception of a glimpse of her leaving the hospital in the arms of her grandfather, Indian film icon Amitabh Bachchan. The little girl has been dubbed "Beti B" by the media (beti is Hindi for daughter). She is rumored to be named Aaradhya, and an official announcement of her name, which has yet to be made, may come on the show. The Bachchans have reportedly been offered huge sums for the first photos of Beti B, and the family has refused. Oprah visited the Bachchan family home during her stay in Mumbai. Wearing an orange sari gifted to her by Aishwarya, Oprah arrived by car with Aishwarya, Abhishek, and Amitabh at a high-profile private party thrown in her honor, which was attended by Bollywood A-listers, including Hrithik Roshan, Anil Kapoor, and Priyanka Chopra. Oprah also visited Mumbai's slums, the Taj Mahal, the Jaipur Literature Festival, and Delhi.


'Agent Vinod' featured at Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles


April 1, 2012


Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
Recent Bollywood release Agent Vinod, starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, will have its Los Angeles premiere on Saturday, April 14 at this year's Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA). The festival, now in its 10th year, will screen 33 feature films, documentaries, and shorts from South Asian filmmakers throughout the world, including the U.S., the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany, South Africa, and India. IFFLA runs from April 10-15 at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles. Last year's Bollywood release Delhi Belly, produced by Aamir Khan and starring Imran Khan, will be screened on Friday, April 13. Festival passes are available at www.indianfilmfestival.org.


NYC’s MoMA hosts Raj Kapoor film festival


January 7, 2012


Raj Kapoor
The Museum of Modern Art in New York City is screening an eight-film series, "Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema," from January 6-16. Raj Kapoor, known as the Great Showman, is regarded as the father of Indian cinema. He was one of the biggest Indian movie stars of the decade following India's independence and also a director and producer. He started his own production company, R.K. Films, in 1948. He was known for his tramp screen persona, and his films explored themes of socialism, patriotism, Indian identity in a globalizing world, and social barriers to love. His films were wildly popular in the former Soviet Union. Kapoor had a long romantic relationship with his frequent co-star, Nargis, a renowned actress. His performance in Awaara (1951), opposite Nargis, was ranked by Time magazine as one of the "Top 10 performances of all time." The films to be shown by MoMA include Aag (1948), Barsaat (1949), Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Meera Nam Joker (1970), and Bobby (1973). Kapoor (1924-1988) was the son of actor Prithviraj Kapoor, and he is the patriarch of a film dynasty that dominates Bollywood to this day—his brothers, Shammi and Shashi; his sons, Rishi, Randhi, and Rajiv; his granddaughters, Karisma and Kareena; and his grandson, Ranbir. For more information about the film series, visit moma.org or call (212) 708-9400.


Bollywood's 'Lagaan' makes 'Time' list of best sports movies


October 6, 2011


Amitabh Bachchan
Bollywood film Lagaan (2001)—about 19th-century Indian villagers who challenge the British to a cricket match in order to free themselves from oppressive taxes—made Time magazine’s list of the 25 best sports movies of all time. The magazine called Lagaan "surely the longest and most enthralling underdog-sports movie ever." Lagaan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film—only the third Hindi-language film in history to get an Oscar nod, after Mother India (1957) and Salaam Bombay (1988). The movie introduced many Americans to Bollywood for the first time. Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan starred in and produced the film. It was the debut release of Aamir Khan Productions, which has since developed a reputation for selectivity, producing such well-regarded films as Peepli Live (2010). Lagaan was helmed by Ashutosh Gowariker, who later directed the award-winning Swades (2004) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008). Richard Corliss of Time wrote of the selection: "Lagaan has the capability to win over Bollywood newcomers—to turn snickers into smiles, indulgence to rapture. Writer-director Ashutosh Gowariker finds the spice in a masala mix of melodrama and character comedy, and keeps his cinematic rhythms humid and urgent for the full 3¾-hour running time. Even those who know none of cricket's complicated rules will bounce in their seats to A.R. Rahman's irrepressible tunes; here, one can immediately and fully accept the Bollywood trope of music and dance as an expression of life's deepest, most soaring emotions. As sports film, social document or communal ecstasy, Lagaan is the all-time all-rounder."


Bollywood's 'Mausam' at Chicago International Film Festival


September 27, 2011


Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
Recent Bollywood release Mausam will get a gala presentation, with a red carpet appearance by director Pankaj Kapoor, at the 47th Chicago International Film Festival in October. The film, a romantic epic about a Kashmiri refugee and a Punjabi Air Force officer, is the directorial debut of acclaimed Indian actor Pankaj Kapoor. It stars Sonam Kapoor and the director's son Shahid Kapoor. The event, to be held Friday, October 7 at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.) in Chicago, headlines the festival's "Spotlight South Asia" program, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The program is the first of a three-part series that highlights the film culture of a different region of the world each year. The red carpet arrivals for Mausam begin at 6 pm, followed by the screening at 6:30 pm. An after-party will be held at Privet Nightclub & Lounge, 937 N. Rush St., at 10 pm, featuring Bollywood and Bhangra DJs. This year's Chicago International Film Festival runs from October 6-20. For more information, visit chicagofilmfestival.com.


Bollywood’s Bachchan to appear in Hollywood’s ‘Gatsby’


September 15, 2011


Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at Oscars
Indian film legend Amitabh Bachchan will make his first-ever Hollywood film appearance in the upcoming Warner Bros. adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. Bachchan, who has appeared in 180 films over the last four decades, will play the role of Meyer Wolfsheim, a minor character in the book who is a shady business associate of the main character Jay Gatsby. Wolfsheim was based on the real-life New York crime boss Arnold Rothstein, who fixed the 1919 World Series. Bachchan will appear in one scene and has declined compensation because he is friends with the director, Baz Luhrmann, the Australian filmmaker of Moulin Rouge (2001) fame. Luhrmann is a long-time fan of Bollywood, and its influences on his work are clear. He has said that his fascination with Hindi cinema began when he saw the Bachchan-starrer Sholay (1975). Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the film as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. Filming is underway in Australia. It is set to release in 2012 and will be distributed in 2D and 3D. Bachchan has downplayed the significance of his Hollywood debut, calling it a "friendly gesture," because he doesn't believe Indian cinema—the largest film industry in the world—needs any validation from Hollywood.


Milwaukee Film Festival spotlights Bollywood


September 1, 2011


The Milwaukee Film Festival will feature a special program on Indian film—called "Passport: India"—at its third annual festival from September 22 to October 2. The festival, which screens contemporary American and international films, is introducing a country-specific program this year, beginning with the country that produces more films than any other, India. It includes a mix of feature films—both commercial and arthouse—and documentaries. The selections include Aarakshan, Mumbai Diaries, and Robot. Last year, more than 30,000 attended the festival, which had 26 sold-out screenings. Tickets go on sale September 8. For more information, visit www.milwaukee-film.org.


'Dabangg,' 'My Name is Khan' dominate IIFA awards in Toronto


June 26, 2011


Dabangg was the big winner at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards—often called "Bollywood's Oscars"—which were held in Toronto, Canada in June—the first time the event has taken place in North America. Dabangg, an homage to old-time masala films, picked up six awards, including best film. Hollywood stars Hillary Swank and Cuba Gooding Jr. were presenters at the ceremony. A-list Indian stars, including Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu, Kangana Ranaut, and Shilpa Shetty, performed dance numbers for the sold-out live audience of 22,000. An estimated 700 million television viewers watched the awards gala. Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, about the 1970s Mumbai underworld, had led the field with 12 nominations, including Ajay Devgn for best actor and Emraan Hashmi for best supporting actor, but garnered only one win—Prachi Desai for best supporting actress. Dabangg followed with 11 nominations, including Salman Khan for best actor. But Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn lost out—along with Guzaarish's Hrithik Roshan and Raajneeti's Ranbir Kapoor—to Shahrukh Khan for his role in My Name is Khan, a love story set in post-9/11 America. My Name is Khan's Karan Johar won best director. Anushka Sharma claimed the best actress award for her performance in the romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat. The best supporting actor award went to Arjun Rampal for his turn in the political thriller Raajneeti.


Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles announces lineup


March 26, 2011


The annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles has chosen the feature films, documentaries, and short films for this year's program from April 12-17. The festival, in its 9th year, will include the world premiere of Walt Disney Pictures' Hindi production, Zokkomon, on April 17. The film, a live-action adventure about an ordinary boy who finds the strength to face extraordinary challenges, is set for limited theatrical release in the U.S. on April 22 and stars Darsheel Safary in the lead along with veteran actor Anupam Kher. Opening the festival is the award-winning I Am Kalam, which marks the feature-film debut of short-film director Nila Madhab Panda. I Am Kalam, the story of a young boy who struggles against the odds to get an education, stars Gulshan Grover. The red-carpet festivities will take place on April 12 at ArcLight Hollywood, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. The festival is also screening Anurag Kashyap's That Girl in Yellow Boots, Kiran Rao's Dhobi Ghat, the romantic comedy Band Bajaa Baaraat, the sci-fi fantasy Robot, the social satire Peepli Live, and the coming-of-age drama Udaan. The world premiere of the documentary Big in Bollywood is also among the lineup.


Bollywood’s Bachchans hit red carpet at Oscars


March 1, 2011


Bollywood couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan graced the red carpet at the 83rd Academy Awards in February. Aishwarya wore a strapless bronze Giorgio Armani gown with amber sequins, while her husband Abhishek wore a traditional black tuxedo. Indian actress Mallika Sherawat also walked the red carpet—in a sequined white Mark Bouwer gown with a dramatic front slit and plunging neckline. The Bachchans were vacationing in the U.S. and said they received a last-minute invitation to the ceremony. They attended the Vanity Fair Oscar Party later that night. Aishwarya has appeared in several Hollywood productions. In 2007, she co-starred with this year's Best Actor winner Colin Firth in The Last Legion, along with British actor Ben Kingsley. Indian composer A.R. Rahman, known as the “Mozart of Madras” and famous for his work in Hindi film, was nominated for two Academy Awards this year, Best Original Score and Best Original Song—the latter a collaboration with British singer Dido—but lost, for his music for director Danny Boyle's film 127 Hours. Rahman performed with Dido at the ceremony. 127 Hours was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but struck out in all categories.


Bollywood’s A.R. Rahman nominated for two Oscars


January 26, 2011


Indian composer A.R. Rahman, known as the “Mozart of Madras” and famous for his work in Hindi film, was nominated for two Academy Awards this year for his music for director Danny Boyle's most recent film 127 Hours. The 45-year-old Rahman was nominated for Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song—the latter a collaboration with British singer Dido. The 83rd Academy Awards ceremony will take place on February 27. Rahman won a host of awards—including two Oscars, two Grammys, a Golden Globe, and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award—for his song “Jai Ho” from the film Slumdog Millionaire and for his contributions to the film’s soundtrack. At the 81st Academy Awards ceremony in 2009, Slumdog Millionaire, another Boyle film, won in eight categories, including Best Picture and Best Director. Three of the awards went to Indians, including Rahman. The film 127 Hours tells the true story of a U.S. rock climber who cut off his own arm after being trapped under a boulder in a canyon for five days. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.


Aamir Khan on jury at Berlin International Film Festival


January 22, 2011


Bollywood actor Aamir Khan will serve as a juror at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, to be held February 10-20. The seven-member jury, led by Italian-American actress Isabella Rossellini, will pick the winners of the festival's main prizes, the Golden and Silver Bear awards. The festival, also called the Berlinale, will open with the Hollywood production True Grit, by Oscar-winning filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. Founded in 1951, it is one of the world's most prestigious film festivals. About 400 films are screened at the festival; about 20 compete for the Golden and Silver Bear awards. The other jury members include Australian film producer Jan Chapman, German actress Nina Hoss, Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell, and Iranian director Jafar Panahi.


Bipasha Basu to star opposite Josh Hartnett in ‘Singularity’


January 20, 2011


Bollywood babe Bipasha Basu will appear with American actor Josh Hartnett in the Hollywood production Singularity, directed by Oscar-nominated Roland Joffe. Indian actor Abhay Deol also has a key role in the film, expected to release this fall. In her first international project, Basu will play a Maratha warrior and the love interest of Hartnett's character, a British soldier. The film is an epic time-travel romance set in both 18th-century colonial India and the present day. Singularity also stars former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko and Star Trek star Chris Pine.


International version of Shahrukh Khan’s ‘Don 2’ to release


January 19, 2011


Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan aims to win over global audiences with an international version of his upcoming action-thriller Don 2: The Chase Continues, set to release in December 2011. Reportedly, musical numbers will be eliminated and melodrama tempered for the version shown to moviegoers outside India. Don 2 is directed by Farhan Akhtar, who also helmed the first installment Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006), a box-office hit and a remake the 1978 Hindi cult classic Don, starring Amitabh Bachchan. In the upcoming sequel, the main character Don, an Indian mob boss, sets out to take control of the European underworld. The film was shot in Berlin, Germany. Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Boman Irani, and Om Puri will reprise their roles from the 2006 film; Lara Dutta and Kunal Kapoor will play new characters; Hrithik Roshan will make a cameo appearance. Don 2 will compete globally with the fourth installment of the Mission Impossible series, which releases one week before Don 2. Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor plays a villain in the Tom Cruise-starrer.



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