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Amitabh Bachchan offers financial help to debt-ridden farmers

News4u-News Desk- In an initiative to lessen burden of debt-ridden farmers in the Vidarbha region, a local club in Wardha handed over cheques amounting to nearly Rs30 lakh to 114 farmers on behalf of Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.

The cheques were handed over to farmers by local MP Datta Meghe on May 13, with the help of which the farmers would be able to clear their debts ranging between Rs25,000 and Rs1,50,000, a release issued by an NGO said.

As many as 114 farmers from 20 villages in Wardha district were picked up for the financial assistance, provided on behalf of Bachchan, who was not present on the occasion.

Union Bank of India, State Bank of India, Bank of India and Wardha District Co-operative Bank had provided crop loan to farmers.

Meanwhile, NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti welcomed the gesture made by the megastar.PTI


Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan

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Dilip Kumar a colossus of Bollywood : Big B

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who received this year’s Dadasaheb Phalke Academy award along with Dilip Kumar, says the veteran is a colossus in the industry.

“The high as always, the meeting with Dilip Saheb, Dilip Kumar, Yusuf Khan! It is tough to see a frail idol admired by millions and my favourite, struggle to move and to recognise familiar faces. Though he always does and has recognised mine. But as always even in his frail health, the charm and grace never ending….Dilip Saheb - a colossus! Once and forever,” Bachchan posted on his blog.

The 69-year-old actor was also all praises for Kumar’s wife Saira Banu for taking care of the yesteryear star so well.

“Credit really to Saira ji who has looked after him so well and still does, with great care and devotion,” he added

Kumar, 89, married actress and beauty queen Saira Banu in 1966 when he was aged 44 and she was 22. PTI

Dilip Kumar & Saira Banu

Dilip Kumar & Saira Banu

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Amitabh Bachchan teams up with R Balki again

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Singapore: After directing Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Paa’, director R Balki is working on another project which will star Bachchan. Balki said he is writing a story and will start working on the movie soon for a next year release.

“I am aiming to complete the script by August-September for which Amitabh Bachchan has been briefed,” Balki told PTI on the sidelines of the Pan Indian Institute of Technology Asia Pacific conference. The director also said this would be his big project three years after ‘Paa’. “But the story would be completely different and based on the acting skill of Bachchan,” he added.

Shooting of the film would start early next year and Balki hopes to complete it in about 60-70 days. Other casts and participants in the film have not been selected yet. Balki said his wife, Gauri Shinde’s, ‘English Winglish’ will be complete by July-August.

The movie stars Sridevi in the lead role. The director spoke on his films and work at the conference which opened yesterday. Over 300 IIT graduates from the region are attending the three day conference which is being held for the first time outside India and the US..PTI


Amitabh Bachchan Bald look- "Pa"

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Ailing Bachchan shows signs of improvement in health

News4u - Entertainment Desk :Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who underwent an abdominal surgery last week, has shown some signs of improvement in his heath, but he may undergo a CT scan on Saturday.

There seems to be a slight, very slight, upward push to the graph on recovery, though there is still an immense amount of work to be done and observed.

The fever stayed within control and a few blood readings brought a gentle smile on the faces of the medical team,” Bachchan wrote on his blog last night.

A CT scan planned to detect another nagging problem has been put off for Saturday and shall be considered on Sunday.

“My intake has improved from three sips of water per day to four sips!! Thats like a couple of teaspoons full extra. Your prayers seem to be working,” Amitabh said.

The 69-year-old actor was suppose to undergo another surgery on Friday.

However, the intervention was put off as Bachchan showed some signs of improvement.

“It was decided that another surgery would not be performed as his health was improving a bit…he is fine,” hospital sources said.

Bachchan is currently admitted in the Seven Hills Hospital in suburban Andheri, where he underwent abdominal surgery on 11th February.

Since then, Big B has been keeping his fans informed about his health, without divulging many details.

The megastar has a history of stomach ailments since his intestinal injury on the set of 1982 film “Coolie”.


Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan

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Shah Rukh praises Amitabh as the original Don

News4u-Entertainment Desk-

The ‘Baadshah’ of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan today described megastar Amitabh Bachchan as the “cent per cent original Don”, adding that Don 2 was inspired by the 1978 film starring Big B.

“Amit ji is cent per cent Don and I have full respect for him,” SRK told reporters on his maiden visit to Patna to promote his film, ‘Don 2′, set for a release world-wide tomorrow.

Flanked by co-star Priyanka Chopra and film director Farhan Akhtar, the 46-year-old actor said, “We have been inspired by Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Don’ and filmed ‘Don 2 - The King Is Back’ to get accepted by the new generation.”

The other characters are played by Boman Irani, Lara Dutta, Kunal Kapoor, Aly Khan and Om Puri.

The movie is a sequel to 2006 film ‘Don’, which was a remake of the Bachchan blockbuster with the same name.

In the movie, Shah Rukh plays the evil character of Don, who has his sight set on dominating the powerful European underworld after conquering Asia.

Don shifts his operation from Kuala Lumpur to Berlin to avoid assassination in order to rule the shady European underworld but has to contend with the existing mafia bosses and law enforcement agencies.PTI


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Amitabh to do a cameo in ‘English Vinglish’

News4u-Entertainment Desk-agencies-New Delhi: Mega star Amitabh Bachchan will be seen doing a cameo in ‘English Vinglish’, which marks the comeback of his ‘Khuda Gawah’ co-star Sridevi. The film is being directed by filmmaker R Balakrishnan’s wife Gauri Shinde.

The 69-year-old, who has worked with Balakrishnan (Balki) before in ‘Cheeni Kum’ and‘Paa’, says he is delighted to be working with Gauri. The superstar also said he is eager to work with Balki again and is waiting for him to write a script soon.

“The film is the one being directed by Balki’s wife, Gauri ‘English Vinglish’, playing a small cameo appearance..just. And I have to say that being on set is a world and a delight of its own. This I like and enjoy .. Hurry up Balki with ‘your’ script,” Bachchan tweeted.

‘English Vinglish’ follows the story of a middle-class Indian housewife (Sridevi) who is mocked by everyone because of poor English. The film’s about her trip to the US, where she learns the language. Bachchan worked with Sridevi last in the 1992 film ‘Khuda Gawah’.

“In Pune on set with Sridevi after ages .. Perhaps Khuda Gawah! Times a going going long,” he said. Sridevi who gave hits like ‘Chandini’, ‘Mr India’ and ‘Sadma‘, will be seen on the big screen after 14 years.

Amitabh Bachchan returns in Power.

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Goddess Lakshmi has come to our family: Amitabh Bachchan

News4u-Entertainment Desk- MUMBAI: “Goddess Lakshmi has come to our family and we have brought Lakshmi ratna home,” said Amitabh Bachchan, who brought his new-born granddaughter to his home Jalsa on Tuesday. Abhishek said his daughter is sweet and doesn’t cry much.
“We took her to Prateeksha first because that is our first home. We took my father’s blessings and then came to Jalsa,” said Amitabh Tuesday while addressing the media for the first after the birth of his granddaughter.

Aishwarya gave birth to her and husband Abhishek’s first child Nov 16.

Amitabh said that he has all the time to take care of the baby.

“Currently, I am not working on any project. I have just finished with ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ and have no film in hand right now,” Amitabh said. “I have no work right now,” he added.

Abhishek immediately retorted: “Who said you have no work? You are fully responsible to take care of your granddaughter.”

Stating that the baby girl was quiet and mellow, Abhishek said: “She is quiet, obedient and very cooperative. She does not cry or fuss much.”

When asked about the excitement in the family owing to the newborn, Amitabh said that everyone is very happy and excited.

“We are happy to have a baby girl. Abhishek and Jaya got what they wanted,” he added.

When asked about the naming ceremony of the newborn, Amitabh said that there won’t be any grand celebrations. “We generally do not have a grand naming ceremony. When we find a name, we will start calling her so,” he said.

“But it has to start with the letter A,” Abhishek added.

When asked as to how he how he feels about being a father, Abhishek said: “It would take some time for the feeling to sink in, because for me the definition of father is Amitabh Bachchan.”

However, he is confident that he will be able to manage both work and family as he got the “right training” from his parents who never missed any important occasion in his or his sister Shweta’s life despite being actors.

The Bachchans also thanked media for respecting their privacy.

Amitabh, however, refused to share the picture of the baby, said: “I think she resembles Aishwarya, but you know that children change and some people in the family think she has some resemblance to Abhishek.”

When asked about the restrictions on coverage of the newborn, Amitabh said that it was the Broadcast Editors’ Association that came up with the decision.

“We have not spoken to the I&B ministry on the issue. It was the decision of BEA not to go overboard with the coverage,” Amitabh said.IANS

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan

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Action Jackson

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Courtesy Screen- The angry young man is back in a cool avatar and astride a Harley too. In a freewheeling chat on Bbuddah… and emerging trends in the film industry, Amitabh Bachchan explains why the more things change, the more they remain the same.

“Agar main maroonga to goli se, BP ya sugar se nahin”

These words uttered by Amitabh Bachchan in the film, according to director Puri Jagannadh, sum up the spirit of Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap. An AB Corp production in association with Viacom 18, the film, which has Big B play a gangster who returns to Mumbai to complete some unfinished business, has generated a lot of curiosity with its promos and posters. It’s pressing the rewind button to the angry-young-man classics that made Bachchan the superstar of all times.

When quizzed on whether a film with the angry young man attitude at its core, albeit in a lighter vein, would find resonance with the wannabe-cool cinegoers, Javed Akhtar, the co-creator of this towering colossus of a character says, “The fact is that society is angry even today, though the anger might be different from what the nation felt during the ’70s. The society patronising cinema has a certain level of anger which is depicted in different ways. Anger, as with any emotion, is always relevant and Amitabh Bachchan is an extremely competent artiste who is convincing, no matter what the scene or dialogue.”

It is interesting the way the film is being pitched, for more than one reason— Bachchan after his iconic angry-young-man phase made the transition to the grand patriarch after the runaway success of his television show with Kaun Banega Crorepati. The transition phase between the two was marked by good, average and forgettable projects but Bachchan, besides Dilip Kumar, is among the few who strode magnificently into their advancing years, turned them into an advantage and carved places for themselves high above the reach of younger competitors. Bachchan, in fact, with his recent ventures has taken the age conundrum a step further. Not too long ago, he turned back the clock by playing an 12-year-old child afflicted by Progeria in Paa. Among other age-busting myths, he has been the master of cyberspace with his blogs and tweets, keeping ahead of his younger contemporaries in consistency. On television, he has proved his supremacy with a Season 5 of KBC as also its editions in different languages. And despite the youth mania, Bachchan remains a constant favourite with filmmakers and ad-filmmakers, always a contender for top position.

Interestingly, the film clashes with Delhi Belly, an irreverent, slick youth flick. That it releases with another film would, usually, not be pertinent except that Bbuddah… is going to face competition from an Aamir Khan production that has been packaged and pitched for the youth which according to trade analyst Komal Nahta contributes 50-55 per cent of the audience on the opening day. As per the assessment of both Nahta and trade analyst Amod Mehra, it will be the 35-plus demographic that has grown up watching Bachchan blockbusters that will throng at theatres to watch Bbuddah… .

However, none of this analysis is fazing the spirits of the players in question. Puri, tongue-in-cheek, says, “Amitabh Bachchan is younger than Imran Khan.”

How did Bbuddah… come about?

Puri Jagganadh is a very prominent director in Andhra Pradesh and Ram Gopal Varma actually brought him and said that I must hear his script. We heard it, and liked the idea. It’s basically a very simple story about a 70-year-old guy (or my age) who is an ex-gangster and is coming to town.

Going by that, would it be safe to call it an action film?

It has a bit of action, it has drama and music… a bit of everything.

You have also made a significant musical contribution by way of singing the songs yourself…

The music directors would just put me into the room and give me a microphone and ask me to sing and I would say, “Gosh, I can’t do this.” But yes, I have actually sung three songs. One song is such that there is singing, plus the musical sounds of instruments are also made by the singer. It’s called Acapella. That was something novel. The promo has been cut on it. Then I sung two songs, one of which is a medley of some of my old hits.

These days, there are many technical instruments that make you sound good and the experience was very exciting.

Considering this is a home production, you must be very involved with it—there were reports of a reshoot of a song with Sonu Sood.

There was no re-shoot. We are part producers—holding hands with Viacom 18. Creatively, we have joint discussions on the story, dialogues, where we are shooting, how we are shooting, of this and that and then we come to a consensus.

Have you moved away from Reliance Big Entertainment, your earlier partners?

There was no definite status that they were to be the only people with whom we will work. We were comfortable with Viacom 18, so we went ahead.

And Hemaji plays the romantic lead opposite you?

Yes, she is opposite me is all I can say at the moment. If I start explaining, I will have to give away the story.

What kind of reaction has the promo received?

Obviously, there are very good expectations as always. We hope that this film will do very well. Some of the initial reports and reactions that we have from the trailer has been encouraging. With Abhishek heading the production side, it’s been wonderful and you get a lot of music. In fact, he has sung along with me in one of the songs. One conscious decision was that we would keep the costs very low. With Paa we were certain that we can’t go beyond Rs 15 crore and we stuck to that. We have done this in Rs 10.5 crore and the satellite has already been sold for Rs 13.5, so the cost is already covered and the rest of it is profits.

Would you say that the industry has finally figured out a way to second-guess the audience?

I sit now on these production, marketing and promotion meetings and it’s a huge revelation. Of course, I have great admiration for these youngsters who come armed with researched figures and other minute details that makes the process much easier. They are very particular about certain aspects we never thought of, such as the way we should cut a promo or the kind of music to be put in for a certain audience. I am most excited and I’m learning.

Do these new considerations make the process different from earlier days?

Oh yes, we never even knew that such factors existed. The producers put up a few banners and Screen was a huge platform for promotion—an ad in Screen was the ultimate promotional exercise to make an impact. Now it’s a different ballgame. A well-thought strategy, sales management and technology to support it are essential. Ticket-prices are very high, making it an expensive proposition for the common man. Besides, so much is happening on television, giving the viewer a lot of choice. In that respect I would imagine that the marketing and promotions people have a certain strategy. But it’s very interesting—the methodology of ensuring that a certain number of people will come to watch the film. I go along with it because I find that their assessment actually works.

So a hit (film) can actually be constructed based on data from research?

Eventually it is good cinema or appreciable cinema that is being patronised by the audience. In that respect, I would say there has been great maturity displayed by the audience in their ability to discern what they want to see and eliminate what they don’t. That bodes well. But with each generation there will be a difference in how they want to make their cinema.

Delhi Belly, a quintessential youth flick and Bbuddah… release on the same day, so going by market assessment, which would you say has a better chance at impressing the box office?

There is space for everybody, I think. There have been many occasions when film releases have coincided but if the film is good, it will be appreciated.

Which is a more accurate assessment of a film—reviews or the box-office report?

A review is the opinion of one person read by a certain section of the people and it is their prerogative then to believe the review or not. But eventually the collections matter because the box-office collections reflect the pulse of the audience.

What do you have to say about the present trend of churning out South remakes?

That’s not new. It’s an old trend that has worked very successfully. Ever since I came in and even before that there were several subjects from the South that the Mumbai film industry picked up. There were prominent producers there who made remakes of their own films in Hindi. I have been a part of several remakes of Shivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan films. Vice-versa, Rajinikanth have done so many remakes of my films. I see a lot of that happening again. Technically, I find them superior and their businesses are also fairly large. In fact, the largest number of films produced are in Telugu and not Hindi. And their returns, ratio-wise, are massive. And now you have, say, an established director like Puri Jagganadh from Telugu cinema making a film in Hindi that is yet another welcome trend.

Has the arrival of Hollywood studios brought about greater discipline and clarity on creative ownership?

I will sort of blow my own trumpet a little bit here. In 1995, when I started ABCL, the idea was to formalise or corporatise this very potent entertainment industry. It came about from discussions with people in the West who saw India as a new frontier. My lawyers would say, “You should get your house in order because the Americans are coming.” In my initial talks with executives, I had said that within five years, all big corporations are going to land here and buy us out. Hollywood has set in motion a trend worldwide, of which one needs to be wary. Welcome, as well as wary. They moved into United Kingdom and eventually destroyed the industry. Then they moved into Europe and its cinema vanished—German and French cinema was wiped out because they overpowered that cinema with their own products. And they are moving absolutely in the same direction in India as well. They have, with their management and marketing expertise, very smartly, moved into exhibition and distribution. And now, several times, their films are doing better than ours so we need to be cautious of the fact that they have the capacity to destroy us. In order to ward off the danger, we need to challenge ourselves. All their films that have done well here, fortunately, are the ones like Avatar, Titanic, Kung-Fu Panda—films wherein technology or animation is involved. I don’t think that culturally stories, which revolve around their moral standards, can connect. I think we can share each other’s expertise and build our own systems and standards. The protection of right is being documented. Technologies of marketing and distribution are now being put in place. What has been collected on a film actually gets back to you and the discrepancies are now being monitored. Such systems are helpful and we must imbibe them. We must check piracy and strengthen our laws. Earlier, it was an individual pursuit but I am happy that something I started in 1995 is being followed. Now there are listed corporate companies. The entertainment industry in the next 10-15 years will become massive because the very factor that used to be criticised—our population—in a sense, has become our USP. It means more numbers — 250-300 million television viewers, which is close to the entire population of USA! Oprah’s show, which is number one, has 12 to 15 million people watching it in US. When an audience of 400-500 million people gets converted commercially, it’s going to be huge.

Most industry-watchers feel that despite being flush with funds, Bollywood invests very little in writing. Comment.

I would agree. Our written word has still not progressed much since the ’60s or ’70s when I was there. I would say that it has a lot to do with the youth’s lack of interest in reading good stuff. Today if they want an answer they would rather google it than research a book. I don’t know if many of them read newspapers anymore. They are more restless and they want quick opinions and results. It’s like going to McDonalds and getting food on the go. So unfortunately, filmmaking, art, culture and literature are not very visible as they were earlier, which is sad. We have a vast cultural heritage to draw from — in both theatre and literature of all states in India — so I hope an effort in that direction will improve matters.

Would you say that the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hong Kong Film Festival, just one more in the long list of honours heaped on you by different nations, is an indicator of the growing awareness of Bollywood?

There is a huge amount of recognition now. I was in Krakow recently as their guest and there was incredible amount of respect with which they received me and showed my films at the festivals there. I was in Oxford University for a lecture, which is very prestigious, and people spoke about Indian cinema. In fact, there was an entire section devoted to India, Indian culture, our traditions and so on. Westerners are learning to speak Hindi and even Sanskrit. In France, I was invited to the Theatre des Champs Elysee, one of the most prominent ballet theaters, to recite my father’s poems. The world’s best ballets are performed there, Philharmonics play there and they invited me to recite my father’s poems in Hindi! I was amazed that there was a 75 per cent French audience. I notice that even in American serials these days there are Indians as characters. Everywhere you go today there is talk about Indian culture and a large part of this is because ever since the economy has opened up there’s a huge amount of interest in us. It’s fantastic to see Mr Barack Obama, the most powerful man in the world, talk about India in almost every speech.

What would you say about your films being remade — Don, Satte Pe Satta and Agneepath to name a few?

This is an individual producer’s choice. Agneepath belonged to Dharma Productions. So long as the film does well at the box-office, it is alright, but the original is the original. I feel a sense of great pride that they are considered valuable enough to be remade.

And what about our current fascination with sequels?

The trend of sequels is catching up and I see a number of them doing well. Anyway there are only seven or eight stories in the world. We have been drawing inspiration from our two epics Ramayan and Mahabharat—there is a Ram, a Sita, a Bhishma, a Draupadi and a Krishna in all our films. The rest is creativity.

As a genre, do you think family dramas will continue to be staple fare in films?

Their appeal has got a lot to do with our social structure. We have a family living under one roof unlike in the West where once you are 18, you are on your own. Our family values are much stronger. We live under one roof, eat and pray together and go out to work together so we make films that people can watch together.

Is that why films such as Baghban will always find an audience?

I am glad you mention it, because when Baghban released, Cookie (BR Chopra) told me that he got a call at 3 a.m in the morning from a man who had just walked out of a theatre in London after watching it.

He said, “I have just seen your film. I want to tell you that I live in London and my father also lives here. I had a fight with him 25 years ago and I have not spoken with him ever since. I have just come out of the theater after watching the film and I want to tell you that I am going to see my father right now.”

That was fantastic. If a film can move somebody, it means that there is some element that still prevails.

Have the multiplexes changed the rural-urban contribution ratio with 60 per cent of the revenues now coming in from the cities?

I would imagine that because metros have multiplexes and multiplexes charge more money therefore monetarily the amount of return from cities is greater. Whether the numbers (of people) correspond with the collections is something I don’t know. On one of my visits to Paris, I met some people in the film business and they never talked of the success of a film in terms of collections. When talking of the success of a film, we usually say, “Sau crore ka dhanda kiya.” In the West, they say, “So many number of people went to see the film.” I thought that was a novel idea of how to assess a film’s success or its true value.

And now you have a very successful Season 5 of KBC coming up, which is a first in the history of Indian television. What do you think worked?

The programme has a very attractive quality. It’s the format that really works. After all, it has been running successfully in over 80 countries where I am not helming it. If I have been given a job I must do it to the best of my ability.

But the speeches on the show, which became extremely popular, were your idea?

That was something I introduced when I first started the show. And it came about from the concept of the after-dinner fireside family conversation when talk veered to literature, world matters and suchlike. The timing of the show was 9 pm when people are sitting down to dinner and I thought it would be nice to say something that was morally right. People want to see IPL, saas-bahu serials or kids want to watch cartoons but now they say that when the show comes on air, they gather the whole family and pressurise the kids to join them because for them it’s also a learning ground.

Amitabh Bachchan action jackson

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Amitabh, Shah Rukh Khan turn Italian superheroes

News4u - Entertainment Desk : Amitabh Bachchan is a bearded Supermanand Shah Rukh wears the red and blue costume of Spider Man. The two Bollywood stars are not part of a new superhero flick, instead these ‘avatars’ are the imagination of an Italian pop artist.The Bollywood toys, a trio of Amitabh, Shah Rukh and Anil Kapoor, by David Cesaria are part of the first ever exhibition of Italian neo-pop art in the country.

After a show in Mumbai, the exhibition titled ‘Dadaumpop’ is on show in Delhi and curator Igor Zanti, says that India, with it’s colours and characters, is the spiritual home of all things pop.

Zanti commisioned Cesaria to spend a year in India to come up with a special work on the country and the 3D installations are now the special attraction at the exhibition, which has been put together in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy.

Zanti, who put together the collection, which includes a bust of a draq queen titled ‘Mr Prinetti’, a collection of black and white potraits of Disney characters by a 75-year-old, among others, says that the exhibition is a sort of homecoming, as the second wave of pop art originated in Asia. “The first pop movement began in Europe and I consider French artiste Marcel Duchamp the father of pop art. From Europe it went to the US where Andy Warhol became a cult name. And the second movement began in Asia, especially Japan. And India is a huge influence on pop artistes across the world. The Indian aesthetic is at it’s core pop,” said Zanti.

Be it Bollywood, it’s festivals or its gods, Indian culture is full of the elements that make pop-art distinctive, said Zanti. “Pop art distinguishes itself with the use of colour and India is such a colourful country. Bollywood and it’s heroes and heroines also have the same over-the-top aesthetic as the genre,” said Zanti.

But for those who think that the genre is just about colour and cartoons, Zanti points out that pop art emerged as a form of social commentary. “Pop art is a political form of art. It’s about irony,” said Zanti pointing to a painting by artist Teresa Morelli, showing a male version of the Disney princess Snow White biting into a transgenic apple. “It’s a comment on the dangers of genetically modified food and how it can affect our health and society,” explained Zanti.

The exhibition which was inaugurated by the Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforto, the Ambassador of Italy to India, will be open to the public for two weeks at the Italian Culture Centre in New Delhi. SCREEN


Amitabh Bachchan & SRK

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Bollywood’s ad race sparks image fears

News4u - Entertainment Desk : Bollywood stars may jostle for roles on the silver screen but they are also vying for other lucrative deals - company endorsements - with celebrity branding surging in India but fears the race is out of control.

In a rapidly expanding market, nothing makes a product stand out better than a familiar face and Bollywood stars can promote from 10 to 15 products a year, making $1 million plus from each deal which can far exceed their earnings from movies or TV shows.

Take Bollywood A-lister Amitabh Bachchan, one of the country’s biggest stars and the lord of endorsements. He has endorsed everything from a premium suit brand, India’s largest selling auto brand, cement, cold cream, chocolates, to hair oil.

Shah Rukh Khan, another of the country’s top leading men, endorses Tag Heuer watches, Pepsi, a fairness cream and an hair oil.

A recent article by a magazine estimated these actors each earned about $30 million over five years in endorsements as brand ambassadors are seen as a good way to get high visibility in a short time in a huge, fragmented market.

But in one of the world’s most competitive markets, big names are entering endorsement deals at such a rapid pace that critics say it is almost at random, with no thought to their image or the brand.

“Everyone just wants to make money. It’s plain greed. Most Indian brand ambassadors look at it as a business, a short term thing,” said Anirban Blah of Kwan Entertainment and marketing solutions, a firm that manages stars Ranbir Kapoor and Genelia D’souza.

There was a time when cricketers and other sports stars starting notching up deals alongside actors but the tide has again shifted towards the stars of the big screen and television with the country obsessed with Bollywood and glamour.

The celebrity endorsement market in India is estimated to be worth about US$185 million a year with Bollywood stars last year accounting for 80 percent of endorsements on Indian television.

Sports stars took up just 15 percent of screen time, according to figures released by TAM Media Research.

“The kind of reach and aspirational quality that Bollywood actors and actresses will give you is unparalleled, especially in a cinema crazy nation like India. The minute they are associated with a brand, they give it credibility,” says Rajnish Sahay, CEO of Percept Talent Management.

But brand consultants are starting to voice concerns that the rush to sign deals has become indiscriminate and, unlike in Hollywood, the stars are not really concerned about which products they are backing.

Kiran Khalap, co-founder of brand consultancy chlorophyll, said this practice could be “disastrous to the entire string of brands they are associated with,” and end up hurting both the brand and the star.

“The more reckless (brand ambassadors) are in signing up, the faster they are sending the signal that they do not really stand for anything! They have no central belief in life,” said Khalap.

Bachchan, 67, took on the role of brand ambassador for Gujarat this year not foreseeing a controversy.

But several groups, including sections of ruling Congress party, questioned Bachchan’s association with Gujarat’s right-wing Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is accused of turning a blind eye to the 2002 riots in the state.

Blah said he now advises his clients to associate themselves with brands that may not be as prominent but are aspirational while companies are adding clauses into contracts that take into account behaviour and extraordinary circumstances.

He cited actor Aamir Khan who is known to be extremely involved in his advertisements and is a rare example of a Bollywood star who has planned his brand image down to a tee.

Khan, star of the hit comedy “3 Idiots,” broke the record for a celebrity endorsement earlier this year when he landed a Rs 300-350 million (US$6.5-$7.6 million) a year deal with Etisalat, the UAE telecoms giant, which has just entered the Indian market.

Most other Bollywood stars can bank about Rs 80-100 million (US$1.7-$2.2 million) a year for each endorsements.

Advertising guru Prahlad Kakkar said it was the brands’ fault if they rushed to get a celebrity name that did not necessarily fit the product.

“Ultimately, it is the brand that suffers. But we are too lazy to think about brand values, whether a certain celebrity will suit those values or not, and the same goes for the endorser as well,” he said. SCREEN

Amitabh Bachchan has endorsed everything from a premium suit brand, cement, cold cream, chocolates, to hair oil.

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