Evening of Newcomers

SRK was charm personified at the event Pooja Bhatt may have been missing at a preview screening of her film Jism 2 at a distant suburban theatre, but guests who’d been invited were pleasantly surprised to run into her pretty half-sister Alia. Daughter of Mahesh Bhatt and Soni Razdan, petite young Alia will make her acting debut in October as the female lead in Karan Johar’s campus musical Student of the Year, opposite fellow newcomers Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan.

Alia’s date for the screening was her co-star Varun, who she is reportedly seeing. The good-looking fellow is director David Dhawan’s younger son, who has previously worked as an assistant director to Johar on My Name Is Khan, along with Sidharth. Varun and Alia, who were trying hard not to draw too much attention to themselves, were joined by Wake Up Sid director Ayan Mukherjee. Currently on a short break from shooting his new film Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani with lovers-turned-foes-turned-friends Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, Ayan cheerfully revealed he was catching up on films he’d missed out on recently, and new ones he was looking forward to.

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Calling a Truce

When Shah Rukh Khan turned up recently at an event to release a new poster of Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi (on the invitation of Farah Khan, who stars in the film with Boman Irani), he had to know he was likely to run into his Devdas director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who produced Shirin Farhad. SRK was charm personified at the event, where he greeted Bhansali with a warm hug that in no way reflected the cold vibes the two men shared only a few years ago when their respective films—Om Shanti Om and Saawariya— were being prepared to clash on the same Diwali release date.

At the time, SRK had famously declared in an interview, “I’ll destroy them,” speaking of Bhansali and his musical, which starred then newcomers Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. Bhansali wasn’t amused. “He doesn’t put food on our table. Who is he to destroy us?” the director angrily responded. The superstar’s words proved prophetic, with Om Shanti Om almost literally steamrolling Saawariya into the ground as fas as box-office numbers go. Understandably, the two have never been friends since.

Until this event, that is, where they appeared to be laughing and sharing jokes. SRK seems to have been going out of his way to be kind to the filmmaker, who reportedly approached him some months ago to star in his latest film, which the actor turned down. Not wanting to further humiliate Bhansali—who has had to settle for Ranveer Singh as his leading man, after everyone from SRK, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Ranbir Kapoor allegedly declined his offer—the Devdas star is believed to have done his utmost to extend an olive branch. One hears he even whisked Bhansali off to his office after the event—to catch up and make amends.

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The Comeback Distraction

Technicians and unit hands on the set of this romantic film being produced by a former A-list female star have been gossiping about their male director’s incurable soft spot for the film’s leading man. The actor in question is a former model and failed actor whose make-or-break movie this could be, given that he’s finally landed a starring role—so what if it’s opposite the once incredibly popular heroine who’s producing the film herself.

The actor will reportedly be relaunched with a new name in an effort to wipe out all memories of his previous film, TV and modelling work. The actress, meanwhile, is herself hoping this film will give her a second lease of life after a string of duds and a fairly long phase of unemployment.

The director, whose last film was a colossal turkey, has worked with the actress previously on an item song she performed in his earlier film. When none of the big male stars (and her former co-actors) showed any interest in working opposite her in this ‘comeback’ vehicle, the director is believed to have fought hard to cast his actor friend opposite the significantly older actress. Now it appears even the leading lady has noticed that her director might have more than just a professional interest in the film’s hero. And from what we hear, she’s not pleased. It’s not his little crush she seems to have a problem with, but the possibility that the director might be distracted from the main purpose of their making this film—to help her regain her lost glory in Bollywood.

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