The Dream Girl’s daughter, Esha Deol, has hardly had a dream run in her debut year. Perennially scared of a psychotic husband in Koi Mere Dil Se..., she left the audience witless. Even her goody-two-shoes act in Na Tum Jaano... (cuddly toy in tow) failed to bring in the crowds.
The ageing superstar made a comeback bid with Baba, the South’s most talked-about movie this year. But the faux mumbo-jumbo with Rajni playing a washed-out messiah with overweight bimbo in tow sank without a trace. Even Rahman’s music couldn’t save the day. Naturally, the distributors were screaming blue murder—which in turn led to the Kollywood superstar agreeing to refunds. In many ways, Rajni and the Big B are still in the throes of a never-give-up-on-a-good-thing trip. In fact, Rajni still hints at joining politics, as also plans for another film.
Some boys just refuse to grow up. After the infamous black buck case and then a nasty public tiff with ladylove Aishwarya Rai (on Shahrukh Khan’s film sets), Salman Khan hit the headlines yet again. This time for driving his Landcruiser on to a Bandra pavement, killing one and injuring four others. The dead man was soon forgotten and Saman got out on bail. Other fallouts: Ash is out of SRK productions and Salman lost his Thums Up ad to Akshay Kumar.
It definitely wasn’t another feather in his cap. Hollywood critics who had celebrated Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth just a year back were unsparing in their criticism of Four Feathers. The Boston Globe minced no words— "as moth-eaten as a Bengal tiger rug on the floor of a London men’s club".
She dressed up like an X’mas tree, flashed that million-dollar smile and put on her most coquettish act. But La Dixit’s Kahin Na Kahin Koi Hai still was no Hum Aapke Hain Kaun for the tube. Voyeurs we may all be but we still couldn’t go as far as allowing the former Queen Bee to fix our matches. Or was it that we saw through the matchmaking charade? Experts blame it on the flashy interiors, that terrible swing that held the couple together. But Govinda, we hear, is happy. A show worse than Jeeto Chappar Phad Ke. What are the chances on that?
The reticent 77-year-old Mumbai painter made Indian art history when his large triptych titled Celebration (1995)—and resembling Matisse’s The Dance —went for a sensational Rs 1.5 crore at a Christie’s auction in the Big Apple in September. The triptych was from the Times of India collection. Belonging to India’s Progressive Artists Movement, Mehta’s work is influenced by the European masters and the macabre distortion of Francis Bacon. One of our premier modern masters, Mehta, a film editor-turned painter from Mumbai’s J.J. School of Art, had once said: "In art, you have to go on for a long time before you can say ‘I have done something’." After this, he might possibly raise a toast to himself.
Just when our diaspora films were falling into a rut, Gurinder Chadha came up with the delightful Bend It Like Beckham—a story of a girl’s quest to become a footballer—and conquered the world. Chadha, a Punjabi who went to England from Kenya, began her career as a BBC reporter, directing several award-winning documentaries. Her earlier films were quirky stories about marginalised people. But Bend it..., a limpid cliches-and-all entertainer, is still her best work ever. Needless to say, it was a top grosser at the India-loving UK box-office.
Was it a ploy to embark on a career in politics? Perhaps. However, Manisha Koirala got her lines all wrong in the fight with Shashilal Nair over Ek Chhoti si Love Story. She had wanted some provocative scenes shot with a double removed. He was not listening. So Manisha headed to the courts. That was fine, but then she also went calling on "extra-constitutional authorities" like the National Commission for Women, Bal Thackeray and i&b minister Sushma Swaraj. The legal fraternity turned hostile, sms jokes had it that she was appealing to Osama next. Result: the film turned out to be one of ’02’s rare hits and body double Jessica Choksi stopped being just a body. She became a name.
It’s finally looking like the first family of Indian music. The legendary 81-year-old paterfamilias, Ravi Shankar, snared a popular Grammy award this year. Three-album-old daughter Anoushka bloomed, becoming a cheery regular on the party circuit, touring and penning a much talked-about hagiography of her famous father. But the most talked about was 23-year-old daughter Norah Jones, who made a stunning debut with her vocal album Come Away With Me. It held the No. 1 position on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart for most of 2002. What’s next, a family jam album—The Shankar Family: Reunited?
She claimed that she’d expose Sanjay Dutt’s role in the 1993 Bombay blasts. She alleged the riots were a conspiracy of the US, the UK, the Congress and the BJP. Then, she accused some film industry biggies of being in collusion with the CIA. The immensely articulate, and obviously oddball, former sex symbol also said she’d produce "cogent and irrefutable" evidence of her charges. We’re still waiting.
India’s own maven of music invaded London’s West End with the score for Bombay Dreams, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. It became a smash hit thanks to Bollywood kitsch and Rahman’s jivy masala mix. The 36-year-old musicmaker, who shot into the limelight with his reggae-driven songs and music for Mani Ratnam’s Roja, has sold more than 40 million albums to date. Nobody’s made the jump to phoren shores as Rahman has. The year 2003 may well be when Hollywood comes calling.
Riding on hippy hype, India’s first girl band was put together by Channel V after a tedious nationwide talent hunt. The five young things were dubbed as "young, energetic, juvenile, bubbly, vivacious, confident, talented, lucky". Only, by the end of the year they weren’t getting lucky: their debut album, written by Javed Akhtar no less, fizzled out despite a couple of decent ditties. And by the end of the year, one lass had quit the band. Apparently, so-so videos, an indifferent album, and gigs at rowdy college fests where, ironically, girl fans were molested, do not a girl band make.
Her Raaz terrified the masses and raked in the moolah becoming the year’s Hit No. 1. What’s more, she reminded Paul Mccartney of Sophia Loren. Alright, Bipasha dances like the Pope and has no chance of ever winning the Oscar, but she’s got the look: a dusky, curvaceous package with loads of attitude. Bollywood is not waiting for Zeenat Aman anymore.