A Problematic Pout – Rajeev Masand’s Gossip Column

vidyabalanPoor Anushka Sharma—so disturbed by all the jibes and ‘before & after’ pictures posted on Facebook and Twitter after her appearance on Koffee With Karan last week—had no option but to issue a statement clarifying that she hasn’t undergone cosmetic surgery: ‘For a short while now I have been using a temporary lip enhancing tool and that along with make up techniques (I have learnt over the years) is the reason why there might be a change in the appearance of my lips.’

To hand it to her, Anushka sportingly took all the Heath Ledger ‘Joker’ references in her stride: ‘Some of the ‘joker’ jokes/memes doing the rounds though a bit mean did bring a smile to my lips ;)’

The actress has clarified that this experiment is part of her look in Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet, ‘where I play a jazz singer in the 1960s-70s.’

Nice of her to respond to all the gossip, but like one rival of hers pointed out, “Anushka makes an unconvincing argument, and she should be careful because everyone’s going to be looking at her other films to see if indeed it’s a look she’s sporting only for one movie, [or] a condition that’ll affect her look in all her films.” With Rajkumar Hirani’s P.K. arriving in December, and Bombay Velvet lined up not long after, all eyes will be on Anushka’s lips.

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Padmashrimati Vidya

Vidya Balan says she’s naturally overwhelmed at having been announced the recipient of the prestigious Padmashri honour, but reveals that her friends haven’t stopped teasing her about it. Her Shaadi Ke Side Effects co-star Farhan Akhtar will drop whatever he’s doing and stand up when she enters the room, only to get a laugh out of her. Others are more creative. “I have friends who now refer to me as Padmashri Vidya, and they’ll call Siddharth”—her husband, UTV head honcho Siddharth Roy Kapur—“Padma-shrimaan,” she says amid giggles.

Having swept awards ceremonies four years in a row—she won Filmfare awards for Paa (2009), Ishqiya (2010), The Dirty Picture (2011) and Kahaani (2012)—Vidya’s lucky streak came to a screeching halt with last year’s critical and commercial dud Ghanchakkar, even if she was the best thing about the film. While she may have gone home empty handed after the recent Filmfare, Screen and Star Guild Award ceremonies, she will soon be making a trip to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to collect her Padmashri, a coup her rivals can only envy. The irony isn’t lost on her: “It really felt surreal when I got the call. It took some time to sink in,” she says of being bestowed with the national honour.

But there’s a good chance she’ll be an awards-race contender again next year after she’s done filming Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh’s next, a thriller in which she co-stars with fellow awards-magnet Irrfan Khan.

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A Worldly Friendship

Whoever said young ’uns have all the fun? There’s gossip doing the rounds about two senior actors who’ve reportedly got ‘very friendly’ while shooting at an outdoor location recently. The movie in question is a Hollywood production being filmed in India, the sequel of an international hit that was also shot here a few years ago.

If sources from the unit are to be believed, a fairly well known Indian character actress, who reprises her role from the earlier film, has charmed a Hollywood A-lister who’s recently been added to the new film. This silver fox, a hugely popular American star, has been to India often in the past on spiritual and philanthropic missions, but is filming locally for the first time.

Everyone from the crew to their co-actors have noticed that the pair share warm vibes, and rarely miss an opportunity to drive back to their hotel together in the same car when pack-up is announced. It’s not unusual for one to be holed up in the other’s vanity van or make-up room in between shots, and one source describes their friendship as “extremely touchy-feely”.

The actress, well-known for her raspy, gravelly voice, is married and a mother, and is well known in social circles outside Bollywood too. She’s starred in both blockbusters and indies, often taking mum parts, and has had considerable success in roles with comic undertones. Among those who’ve heard the rumours, there are a few who suspect there may be nothing more than a Platonic friendship between the two. “She’s a great talker, and she’s an even better listener. There’s a good chance she’s the only person on that set who has a worldview outside of films, and that’s probably what he’s drawn to,” a friend of hers offers.

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