The seventh International Indian Film Academy weekend in Dubai kicked off in an inimitable style, heralding a star-studded four-day spectacular event that promises to dazzle the U.A.E. The creme de la creme of the entertainment industry have started arriving in Dubai and the Grand Hyatt [the guests from Mumbai have been put up here] has turned into one Bollywood party. But, let me add in the same breath, it's a well-guarded fortress, with beefy security men maintaining a strict vigil on visitors, guarding the place from hundreds of fans who have gathered in the vicinity to have a dekho of the stars.
Like every year, Amitabh Bachchan the Brand Ambassador of I.I.F.A., kick-starts the I.I.F.A. weekend by addressing the global media. "Dubai is an amazing city. There's so much progress and development happening here. You have to dream something and on your next visit, you discover that the dream has turned into a reality," he says. We endorse the viewpoint!
SANJAY GUPTA ANNOUNCES FIVE FILMS
The I.I.F.A. weekend is the best platform to launch/showcase your films. And Sanjay Gupta has been religiously launching his films at I.I.F.A. Besides launching Kaante and Plan, Gupta and his White Feather Films announce five films, post lunch. It's the first major event of the day.
Dus Kahainyaan: The film tackles ten different stories, directed by seven directors. "But none are linked to each other," Gupta tells me at the very outset. Each story is of a 10-minute duration: Lovedale Soha Ali Khan, Gubbare [Nana Patekar, Samir Dattani], Matrimony [Arbaaz Khan, Mandira Bedi, Sudhanshu Pande], Zenzi [Vivek Oberoi, Tanushree Dutta], Highway [Jimmy Shergill, Neha Dhupia], Zahir [Bipasha Basu, Aftab Shivdasani], Gupshup [Esha Deol], Accident [Anupam Kher], Sex on the Beach [Tusshar Kapoor] and Rise Fall [Sanjay Dutt and Arjun Rampal].
Woodstock Villa: After a successful businessman's wife disappears, hostile and taunting ransom demands follow. The film marks the debut of Sikandar [son of Anupam and Kiron Kher] and Neha Uberoi. Two different promos are unveiled on the occasion. Hansal Mehta directs this thriller.
Shootout at Lokhandwala: On a calm summer day in 1991, in the bustling Lokhandwala Complex, five criminals were counting Rs. 70 lacs in a flat, when 286 policemen took strategic positions around their building. A gunfire ensued and the entire nation witnessed the most talked-about daylight encounter lasting six hours that transformed the Mumbai into a virtual war zone. Starring Sanjay Dutt, Vivek Oberoi, Rampal, Tusshar Kapoor, Arbaaz Khan, Rohit Roy, Sameer Dattani, Shabbir Ahluwalia with Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, the film also stars real-life cops and gangsters. Apoorva Lakhia directs this real-life story.
Alibaug: Nine friends with nothing in common come together for a weekend. Before it's over, they will have broken the rules, bared their souls and touched each other in a way they never dreamed of. Sanjay Gupta turns autobiographical this time. No violence this time, not even a slap. My friend [pointing towards this writer] criticized me heavily for it the last time in Zinda Gupta announces. He's cast real-life friends, not actors in this film. Manasi Joshi Roy, Mandira Bedi, Gul Panag, R. Madhavan, Rohit Roy, Sameer Soni, Sanjay Suri, Sudhanshu Pande and Sanjay Dutt enact pivotal roles. Himesh Reshammiya scores the music, but, I promise, I won't make him sing in my film, Gupta jokes.
Chamki Chameli: Shyam Benegal directs an epic musical about love, jealousy and betrayal. It's inspired by the classic Spanish opera Carmen. The film will be shot in Rajasthan. It's the love story of Dilip Singh, a BSF Jawan and Chamki, a beautiful gypsy girl. Sanjay Dutt and Priyanka Chopra have been signed for the roles in question, Gupta informs me, although he doesn't announce the two names to the media. I am also talking to Saif and Ajay for the other key roles, he adds. A.R. Rahman scores the music.
BIG B, KARAN JOHAR RELEASE BOOK It's not just films, but books are being launched as well. Amitabh Bachchan and Karan Johar launch 'Lights, Camera, Masala', an insider's look at the glitz, grit and grandeur of Hindi cinema. The book documents the fascinating process of making a typical commercial Hindi film through the adventures of a pair of fictitious characters called Vijay and Ravi, as they endeavor to make a Hindi film of their own.
Famous film personalities from seasoned scriptwriters such as the Salim-Javed duo, to celebrated actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai, and renowned directors like Ramesh Sippy and Karan Johar all share their experiences and provide fresh insights into film making.
Sheena Sippy's stunningly evocative photographs capture the grandeur, grit and madness that is Bollywood. The book has been authored by Naman Ramachandran, a screenwriter, film-maker, film festival programmer and film critic.
ASH'S HECTIC SCHEDULE
Aishwarya Rai makes a flying visit to Dubai. She's shooting non-stop in Chennai [for Mani Ratnam's Guru], but has promised to attend the premiere screening of Provoked in the night, besides interact with the media after the screening and also take part in the Umrao Jaan media launch after the premiere.
But before Provoked is screened in Dubai, Ash leaves an imprint of her hand on the I.I.F.A. Wall of Fame for Dubai's Studio City, a state of the art studio. Last year, at I.I.F.A. Amsterdam, a tulip was named after the actress.