Jodis to look out for this year!

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The first half of this year has not been the greatest in Bollywood’s history – the disappointment of one or two early releases and the multiplex strike has led to falling sales revenues and frustrations for the industry’s legions of fans worldwide who have had to turn to alternative pursuits such as cricket, reality TV, visiting relatives, learning Swahili or even talking to their parents to fill their time. Things could not have gotten much worse.

But then, just as final despair was setting in with the thought of one more visit to Auntie or one last attempt at mastering the origami duck, suddenly the strike was over and the future looked bright – with so many movies lining up to hit the screens, that the producers have even had to create a rota to make sure they don’t fall over each other as they scurry their way to the projectors.

Of course, there’s the plots, the music, the action, the comedy element and all the other hot masala of a typical Bollywood mix that we all want to see – but above all there are the jodis. Those icons of transference of our inner desires and dreams writ five times larger than life at the multiplex near you. Which are the best that we have to look forward to in the months ahead – now that the drought is broken and the monsoon has begun …

Kites – Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori

One of the most eagerly awaited is Kites. Over a year in the making at a critical time in Hrithik’s career, this is a high-risk production – made partly in English and targeted at both the South Asian and South American markets. Luckily, the barnstorming success of Jodhaa Akbar throughout last year – and most recently confirmed at the IIFA Awards in Macau – has helped to keep Hrithik’s name to the forefront.

The film, which also stars Kangana Ranaut in a pivotal role, is about an Indian boy’s affair with a Latina girl – Barbara Mori, Mexico’s soap opera queen with her own legion of fans. There is apparently some passionate kissing which may or may not have caused an increase in tension in the Roshan household – but will almost certainly keep Hrithik’s female fans happy.

However, Hrithik’s father Rakesh – the film’s producer – argues that the sensuality in the film is not meant to be sensational. “The sensuality is not worked into the film to unnecessarily titillate or cater to any specific audiences,” he says, titillating Hrithik’s fans, “Kites is a love story, so the sensuality depicted in the film goes well with it.”

Costing around 60cr, directed by Anurag Basu and premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival, not, it has to be said, to universal acclaim. However, the film’s distribution rights have been sold for 150cr and it was scheduled for a big Diwali release but has now been pushed back to December, much to the screaming and crying of his fans!.

If the film is as big a success as they hope, Hrithik’s fans will think he’s God – well even more of one!

Dil Bole Hadippa – Shahid Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee

The second of our longed-for jodis has also caused a bit of a stir with Rani trying to make a comeback with a toy boy lover in Shahid in a 30/20 crossover movie. The film has added spice for glamour fans with both Rakkhi Sawant and Sherlyn Chopra in the cast.

Although another Yash Raj movie, this one augurs well for Rani in a love triangle in which she pretends to be a man so she can prove that women can play cricket as well as men can – Hah! Must be a fantasy film. However, it does look as though this one will give her the opportunity to demonstrate her undoubted acting talents. Rani, it appears, is leaving nothing to chance having called upon God to back her movie by fasting every Thursday for 40 weeks followed by a pooja in the Sai Baba temple – now there’s dedication for you.

Meanwhile, Shahid is riding on a high, having been awarded the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Award – and he’s only 28. “I was pleasantly surprised to get the news about my being chosen for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi award,” he confimed, “I’m only 28 years old and it’s really early in my career. I feel humbled and honoured to be chosen by the jury.”

Shahid is sure the new movie will be a success. “People are inquisitive about Rani Mukerji and me,” he explains, “They want to know more about our screen chemistry.”

Dil Bole Hadippa releases on Sept 18th and is directed by Anurag Singh.

Love Aaj Kal – Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone

Saif Ali Khan, desperately in need of a hit and Deepika Padukone, hoping to rise above the disappointment of Chandni Chowk to China, form the jodi in Love Aaj Kal, an Imtiaz Ali film which also features British actress Florence Brudenell-Bruce in her Bollywood debut.

The film consists of three different but linked stories, set in different times with Saif and Deepika playing the leads in each of the stories. The first is set in contemporary London, San Francisco and Mumbai. The second is in Calcutta and Delhi, ten years earlier and filmed largely at the Red Fort. The third story is more historical, set earlier in the century.

Deepika has taken the brave step of filming with “Deepika suggested she wears no make-up in the film as she wanted her character to look as real as it can,” says a source, “She wanted to look natural on screen and she looks absolutely beautiful.”

Saif Ali Khan, who also produced the movie, thinks they make a great jodi on screen.”I think we look nice and refreshing” he confirms, “She’s a new face and she’s young. She’s got an Indian look and is very grounded and mature. Her personality grounds me on the screen just like Rani Mukherjee does. They are very earthy – just opposite of me.”

The film leads on July 31st.

What’s Your Rashee? – Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra

Based on Madhu Rye’s novel Kimball Ravenswood, What’s Your Rashee? tells the tale of a young man who has to find the girl of his dreams in 10 days in order to inherit a large sum of money. Playing an amazing twelve different avatars (oh, boy) influenced by the signs of the zodiac, Priyanka Chopra appears as his fantasy inspiration.

This is Ashutosh Gowariker’s first romantic comedy. The director is riding high after his triumphs with Jodhaa Akbar but it will be a test of his dexterity to see if he can pull this off – it’s due for release on Sept. 28th.

Priyanka Chopra will inevitably be expected to shoulder the burden in the movie – but the award-winning actress is used to that with Harman – remember Love Story 2050 anyone? It will also be interesting to see how well the jodi works now that they have drifted apart in real life – whatever that is.

London Dreams – Salman Khan and Asin

Vipul Shah’s rock musical is about two aspiring musicians – the second is played by Ajay Devgan – who come to London to try and fulfill their ambitions. They were childhood friends. Of course, in London, they meet the lovely Asin, playing a dancer, and become rivals for her hand.

Rumours abounded at the time of filming that Asin was very demanding on set – particularly in terms of clothing allowances – but these were later dismissed by all concerned. “Asin plays a gothic girl with a dual personality,” says designer Ashley Rebello – so two jodis and one heroine in this one, “Her colours are mainly black and grey, and she wears a red dress only once. Her look is very hip and gothic with tight-fitting tees, mini skirts, waist coats, ganjees, fitted truck pants, tight jeans and high heeled boots.” Asin with a gothic look? Sounds good to me.

Naturally, Salman Khan has been linked to his co-star in real life but Asin firmly rejects this saying she prefers the comic book character Archie to Salman, as many people no doubt do. The film releases on 30th October 2009.

Kaminey – Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra

Releasing on August 14th is Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey starring the possibly temporary real-life jodi of Shahid and Priyanka. The on-screen chemistry for this one should really rock – especially as Priyanka apparently gets into a lip-lock with Shahid, not a common occurrence with Priyanka.

The film is about two identical brothers, Guddu and Charlie – always a good idea as it cuts down on staffing costs – and the different directions that their lives take and of course how those lives keep intersecting. Luckily, the audience will be able to tell them apart because one of them stammers and the other has a lisp – must have been fun learning the dialogue.

So who’s the treacherous one? “You’ll have to see the film to know who’s the kaminey,” says Priyanka.

Wake Up Sid – Ranbir Kapoor and Konskona Sen Sharma

Wake Up to the new jodi of Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma! Straight from the Karan Johar stable, this romantic comedy is all about a young, good-looking guy (I wonder who that can be) and his older, more serious girlfriend, who’s always trying to get him to better himself. Women! They team up with you because they like the way you are and then spend years trying to change you into something else – go figure!

As reported in these pages by cub reporter Prathna Tiwari, poor Konkona had to go on a crash diet to meet Karan’s exacting standards for his leading ladies. What’s less well known is that after Konkona had thought she’d finished the movie, she put the weight back on again – only to be called back for an extra day’s shooting and demands to hit the celery salad once again! What a life these actresses have to lead!!

Meanwhile, pressure’s being placed on Ranbir to have his nose straightened but he’s refusing to get it done. “I would rather have a crooked nose than an altered one,” he told a friend. He’s convinced his career is safe even if he doesn’t have a perfect face. I guess he knows what he’s doing.

Wake Up Sid hits the screens in October.

Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani – Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif

Katrina pops up again – this time with Ranbir Kapoor in Rajkumar Santoshi’s romantic comedy due for release on September 18th. “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani with Ranbir and Katrina is my first love story,” says Rajkumar, “Although people seem to think it’s an intense love story – it is not. It has lots of very light very humorous moments.”

Of course, it goes without saying that rumours spread like wildfire during the shooting of the movie that Ranbir and Katrina were getting too close together and that Deepika was turning up on set with a wok ready to bash him on the bonce – but as the two lovebirds were seen together later at a Star Trek movie, this is possibly exaggerated and not worthy of a mention.

Ranbir and Katrina do apparently look really hot together with Katrina somehow looking younger than she has done in her most recent movies and with the perfectionist Rajkumar Santoshi at the helm, it’s likely to provide some hot entertainment.

It’s My Life – Harman Baweja and Genelia D’Souza

It’s My Life is a remake of Genelia’s Telegu and Tamil hit Bommarillu about a young man who is prepared to defy his father’s wishes in his quest for true love – touching stuff. The film is directed by Anees Bazmee and should be perfect for a summer’s evening or fall or winter since we don’t yet know a release date.

So there we have it – a selection of the jodis coming your way over the next few months. But that’s not all! With a backlogue now of 90 movies that have to be cleared in the next 28 weeks, Bollywood fans are finally in for the treat they deserve with a wide range of genres to choose from. The list of jodis in this article are not intended to be exhaustive and we invite you to produce your own set of favourite jodis for the summer.

Happy days are here again …

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