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Zayed's 'net' gains

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By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Atul Agnihotri's directorial debut, Dil Ne Jisse Apna Kaha, did not do well at the box office. So now, he's sparing no efforts to make sure that his second film, Hello (produced by US-based Paul Parmar) doesn't lack anything.

Apart from adapting Chetan Bhagat's One Night @ A Call Centre and roping in stars like Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Celina Jaitly, Sharman Joshi and Gul Panag, no less than 10 lakh internet readers voted Zayed Khan to play one of the six characters in the film. Zayed will be paired opposite Celina Jaitly.

Unique casting

Says Atul, "The casting of the film just fell into place. Chetan has a website which is read by people across the world. The book has a presence on the net and there are chat rooms where discussions take place. Once the deal was finalised and the news was announced, people in the chat rooms started discussing the cast for Hello. That's when Zayed's name for one particular character came up. It was a unanimous decision. It's a unique kind of casting!"

As for how Zayed reacted, Atul says, "He agreed to do the film even before I read out the screenplay. I had given his mother Zarine a copy of Chetan's book and she told Zayed that it was a lovely story." Atul says he chose to adapt Bhagat's book to celluloid because of its tremendous cinematic scope. "I read the book and contacted Chetan through the internet. The book has been read by 10 lakh readers, been reviewed 1,000 times and the screenplay had already been worked on by Chetan.

It's a very character-defined film set in an Indian format. It's about six characters set across one night and their experiences. Before we begin shooting, we will have a seven-day initiation scene for all the characters."

Salman, book lover?

Atul starts shooting from January in Delhi. "Salman and Katrina have guest appearances, though their roles are very important. Salman is telling the story like the narrator in the book, but we have used it differently."

Agnihotri says that Salman has read and loved the book, and insists that he is a bona fide book lover. "Salman loves reading, especially books by Paulo Coelho. I want him be a part of all my films and take his advice every step of the way."

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