Emraan, the No-No Guy

Word within studio walls at Yash Raj Films is that boss-man Aditya Chopra is convinced his Ishaqzaade heroine Parineeti Chopra could be the Next Big Thing. Kareena Kapoor, who had more or less committed to starring opposite Emraan Hashmi in a Dharma-Balaji co-production, is believed to have backed out of the film now. Although the actress is resorting to the age-old ‘no dates’ excuse, industry insiders say she has allegedly expressed reservations about working with the Murder star.

The film, described as an ‘unusual romantic comedy’, is to be directed by first-timer Akshay Roy. Both Karan Johar and Ekta Kapoor, who are jointly producing this film, were excited by the unconventional casting coup they’d pulled off. Now there is some talk that the film may be shelved altogether.

Emraan Hashmi, who has evolved into a bankable leading man even outside his comfort zone (that is, adult thrillers produced mostly by the Bhatt banner), has had some trouble getting A-list actresses to work opposite him. All that looked like it was about to change after Vidya Balan signed No One Killed Jessica director Rajkumar Gupta’s next film Ghanchakkar opposite Emraan, and news broke around the same time that Kareena would be his co-star in the Dharma-Balaji collaboration.

Even without the Kareenas, Katrinas and Deepikas to star opposite him, Emraan has no shortage of A-list projects. After Dibakar Banerjee’s political thriller Shanghai opens in June, he’ll star in the Vishal Bhardwaj production Dayen, and in Kurbaan director Rensil D’Silva’s next for Dharma Productions. There has also reportedly been an offer from Yash Raj Films, but word is that the actor has turned it down.

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New Star on the Horizon?

Word within studio walls at Yash Raj Films is that boss-man Aditya Chopra is convinced his Ishaqzaade heroine Parineeti Chopra could be the Next Big Thing. After she stole Ladies vs Ricky Bahl from right under the nose of the film’s other actors last year, it was the Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi filmmaker himself who apparently recommended Parineeti to Habib Faisal, who was at the time literally weeks away from starting production on Ishaqzaade and still heroine-less.

It appears Chopra intends to hold Parineeti to the exclusive three-film contract she’s signed with the studio (which means no other films till she’s honoured the contract), and may have even asked his writers to come up with a script worthy of her talent. The buzz is that Chopra thinks Parineeti has a “freshness” and “natural acting style” reminiscent of his Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge leading lady Kajol.

Parineeti, who worked in the marketing department at Yash Raj Films before she gave acting a shot, is Priyanka Chopra’s cousin, and speaks fondly of the actress even though industrywalas are quick to pit them against each other. Filmmakers have already begun voting for who they think has greater career longevity of the two cousins.

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The Unrepentant Baddie

He’s one of Hindi cinema’s legendary screen villains, who famously enjoyed nothing more than filming those rape scenes in the good ol’ days. He appears in movies only intermittently now, playing grandpa roles, but stories about the old fox and his promiscuity are the stuff of Bollywood legend.

Most popular among these is an incident in which the married actor reportedly left home one afternoon claiming he was going over to a friend’s place for a session of cards. His suspicious wife, who’d heard enough stories about his indiscretions, is supposed to have decided to find out once and for all if her husband was indeed committing adultery.

She’s believed to have followed him all the way to a Juhu hotel. There, she reportedly waited for him to get into a room, and showed up at his door 20 minutes later. The actor apparently answered the door naked, with only a towel covering his modesty. Shocked at seeing his wife at the door, the actor is said to have slammed the door shut in her face.

The angry wife knocked and knocked and swore at him from outside, threatening to break the door down and demanding to know who was with him inside. After 20 minutes of relentless knocking, when her husband didn’t answer the door again, she went home seething.

Later that evening, when the actor finally showed up at home, his missus didn’t wait for him to take a seat before letting loose a volley of curses. To which the actor allegedly responded very coolly, claiming he had no idea what she was talking about. Insisting that she was paranoid, and that she’d hallucinated the entire incident, the actor dismissed his wife’s suspicions and assured her that he was indeed playing cards with friends all afternoon.

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