Friday, December 19, 2008

Bacalhau da Consoada (Christmas Eve Codfish)

The New York Times recently had an interesting article on the importance of salted cod to Portuguese Christmas dinners:

“Bacalhau, as the fish is called here, is to Christmas Eve in Portugal what turkey is to Thanksgiving in America. Treasured since the 16th century, when Portuguese fishermen first brought it back from, it bore the nickname fiel amigo — faithful friend. Its correct
preparation is a source of pride, a sign of respect for family values."
"Every Portuguese, it seems, likes to boast that there are 1,000 recipes for bacalhau and that the people here eat more of it than do those anywhere else in the world.”

If you want to try celebrating this Christmas the Portuguese way, we recommend this traditional recipe from Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters, Expanded Edition. As the author Cherie Hamilton says about it:

Codfish prepared for the consoada (the traditional Christmas Eve dinner) is an alternative to the codfish cooks with todos (literally "all"), which is traditionally served for supper on December 25. This particular recipe, besides being very enticing, appeals to those who like their codfish served in large pieces. In some homes it is served as a second course, preceded by boiled crabs, shrimp, and lobster; and followed by roast turkey or Roast Suckling Pig (page 44) and the trimmings.

2 pounds thick salt cod fillets
6 medium onions, peeled
6 carrots, peeled
2 pounds medium white potatoes, peeled
3 pounds collard greens, stems removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic, smashed
6 to 8 hard-boiled eggs (1 per person)

Soak the salt cold fillets in cold water to cover for 24 hours int he refrigerator, changing the water frequently.

Drain the salt cold and place in a large pot with the onions, carrots, potatoes, greens, and salt. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and saute the garlic cloves until lightly golden. Keep warm.

Arrange the codfish, onions, carrots, potatoes, collards, and eggs on a large platter or several platters. Serve the warm olive oil with garlic in a bowl on the side to drizzle over the fish and vegetables.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

My teddy bear

The History of Body Art Tattoos

The history of body art started with prehistoric humans. In the prehistoric era, belief in a soul, guarded by the spirit of another creature, inspired pictures of that creature on the body. The spirit of that creature guarded, gave safety, and led the soul down the path of life. Body art was a way to keep the spirit close, always.Throughout time, body art kept its position as a spiritual

Salman's new girl Lisa already has a boyfriend

Lisa Lazarus the new face in Salman's Veer is a fun loving and easy going girl who loves to explore new cultures and meet people from all over the world. Amazing is one of her favourite words.

This 21 year old celebrates her birthday on the 22 November. She was born in Swansea in Wales. As she was tall she started modeling at the age of 14 as a hobby.

This rare combination with beauty and brains completed her GCSEs (10th grade) in Science, Math, English, Welsh, PE, IT and Geography. She then finished her A levels in Physics, Chemistry, English and IT and got a degree in Radiography (study of X-rays) while pursuing her modeling career.

Now doesn't she sound different from the lot?

She won her first beauty pageant title of Miss Hair and Miss Smile in the Miss Wales pageant in 2005 at the age of 16.

Modeling became a serious career for her and she signed up with Vibe Models agency in Cardiff. In 2006, she won the 'Miss Bikini Great Britain' title and she was crowned 'Miss Universe UK' this year.

She gets a full 10 for her perfect body, a pretty smile, buoyant hair and brains and stands hundred percent chances of being a hit with men's magazines like FHM and Maxim because of her wholesome figure which is such a refreshing change in these anorexia and size zero obsessed times.

In spite of being 21 she has a great modeling portfolio developed over 5 years in the glamour industry.

Walking the ramp and doing print campaigns for TIGI, Elizabeth Arden, Zoo and Red Handed magazine, Plaza Hotels, Bossy boutique, Mark Jermin and Jovani Dresses are some of her assignments.

She has also walked the ramp at the Cardiff Fashion Week and been part of several TV shows and music videos. This photogenic beauty loves being in front of the camera.

This newcomer finds Bollywood jhatkas and matkas and Hindi very tuff so currently she is brushing up her skills. She is well trained in hip hop and street dancing styles. She is a big fan of pop stars Britney Spears and The Pussycat Dolls and also likes to play golf and likes mild food.

Lisa loves India and the warmth ness the people here show. She wants to establish herself in Bollywood and finds Katrina as one of her idols. She is here to stay as doesn't feel like leaving the country and going away.

In all this there is one bad news for her male fans is that she already has a boyfriend.
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I am waiting for Homosexuality to be accepted legally

As we all know Celina Jaitley has started blogging where she shares her thoughts on elections, the terror attack, security, the common man and myriad other issues which she feels she can contribute to.

Celina is the only Bollywood actor who is a Gay Right Activist and openly supports their stand.

Having worked on development projects related to HIV and AIDS, the actress is all set to unleash her ideas and share her thoughts with like-minded people.

"I believe actions speak louder than words.

As of today me and a couple of others have decided to start an initiation of 'Voting for none provision' I am waiting for a party to see what really and genuinely it has to offer to me, I am waiting for a feeling of security within my own city.

I am waiting to get a ration card and passport on time without red tapism, I am waiting for Homosexuality to be accepted legally, I am waiting for compensation to all who laid their lives, I am waiting for protection within 15 minutes of a terrorist attack, I am waiting to see my country at its full potential" Says the actress.

When we asked Celina about her recent venture she said, "I am very happy about the kind of response my blog has received.

I have received an offer to write a column in a newspaper too. But all that kept that aside, I thank everyone for the feedback and response. I am happy about the fact that it motivated many.

But will people's response to this tragedy continue or will it fizzle out with time is my question and the next topic that I would write on. We have to hold together if we want a change in the system because I don't want this fire to fizzle out."

Way to go Celina.

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Kareena's race against time at a Dubai mall stuns everyone

Trust Kareena Kapoor to be an absolute professional. The actress floored debutant director Prem Soni completely by finishing her shooting in time.

A source reveals, "Recently Kareena was shooting for Sohail Khan Productions – UTV combines' Main Aur Mrs Khanna at a Dubai mall.

The mall authorities could not give the unit much time to shoot. The makers had booked the mall for 14 hours but the mall authorities informed them that they could not lease the mall for that many hours. With less time in their hands the entire unit had to hurry and complete the entire shoot.

And Kareena Kapoor had four changes in costume during the shoot.

The director was worried how they would manage but all the while Kareena kept her cool and managed to change her costumes and make up in time and shoot for the movie.

In fact they managed to complete the entire shoot much before time and that left director Prem Soni baffled. Kareena also came up to the director and joked – 'You will have to give me a special treat for completing the shoot much before time."

Director Prem Soni who was amazed at her professional attitude tells us, "She completely floored me. I thought we would never be able to complete the shoot but she was so quick.

She had to change four costumes and that was really surprising. So much so that we didn't realise we had finished so much in so very little time. Hats off to Kareena"

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Raaz - The Mystery Continues - Music Review

Rating: ***

Any follower of Bollywood, especially when it comes to good music, would certainly know by heart the entire catalogue that Vishesh Films has created in last two decades. And now when Bhatt brothers are ready to strike again with Raaz - The Mystery Continues (which is not a sequel to Raaz and mainly extends the horror-n-mystery genre forward), their music is in news once again.

Would it impress yet again, just like majority of films coming from the house of Bhatts do? Would it have soulful tunes which would make Raaz - TMC yet another addition to the enviable music catalogue of the Bhatts?

Would Emraan Hashmi's lucky charm rub over Raaz - TMC too when it comes to popularity of music? Would Raaz - TMC match up to Raaz that had some haunting melodies by Nadeem-Shravan and still registers sales at the music stands?

Raaz - TMC takes an excellent start with 'Mahi Ve' which can be comfortably placed as the flagship number of the album. Though in essence 'Mahi Ve' is a love song, it has an element of pain and a wait for togetherness attached to it that brings with it some trademark Bhatt element.

Also, this melodious track by Sharib-Toshi has a good fusion of Indian and Western instruments that come together to make it a piece which gets on you after the first listening itself. A chartbuster number that also appears in a 'Rock With Me' version, it is waiting to make waves in weeks to come.

If you liked 'Bheege Hoth Tere' (Murder), chances are high that you would fall for 'Soniyo' as well.

Picturised on Adhyayan Suman and Kangna, this Raju Singh composed has a serene feel to it and celebrates the coming together of two hearts who have perhaps found true love for the first time.

With a hint of Western touch to it, 'Soniyo' is a soft romantic number which has it's moments, especially in the 'antara' portions, where time tends to stand still!

However, not just time but your feet also start moving the moment the rhythm of Raju Singh composed 'O Jaana' begins.

A true follow up to 'Kaho Na Kaho' (Murder), 'O Jaana' is a dance floor number and more than anything else, one looks forward to seeing Kangna in a chilled out form for perhaps the first time ever in a Hindi film.

A track with just the right kind of punch required to attract youngsters, especially in the 'Dance With Me Mix' version by DJ Suketu, 'O Jaana' is all set to be a number that would rock the charts other than 'Mahi Ve'.

Pranay M. Rijia, a new composer, gets an entry into the world of Bhatts with the responsibility of creating the title song 'Kaisa Ye Raaz Hai'.

The track has a haunting-n-silent beginning to it and while the pace is quite slow here, it is just right for a number belonging to this genre. A situational song, it is expected to be placed at numerous junctures in the narrative.

'Bandaa Re' marks an end to this album which has a devotional feel to it. A number which gives the message of God being right in front of you rather than at pilgrimage spots, it brings with it a fusion of Indian classical and 'Sufi' flavor.

As has been the case in majority of his songs, Sayeed Quadri's lyrics succeed in telling the most complex tale in the simplest of manners. One hear of 'Mahi Ve' and you understand why association between Bhatts and Quadri is for the keeps.

However, beats hold center stage in 'O Jaana' due to which one doesn't delve deep into Quadri's lyrics. The tide reverses though for this third track in the album, 'Kaisa Yeh Raaz Hai', where quite a few questions are raised and then left unanswered in a quest to be explored further in the film's narrative.

Kumaar, an emerging talent, proves his versatility once again by writing a mushy 'Soniyo' that is a far cry from the fun mood of his very own 'Maa Da Laadla' (Dostana). Surprisingly though, the lyricist of 'Bandaa Re' doesn't find his/her mention on the album's credit details!

Will Toshi be the next voice for Emraan Hashmi? By the look of things, it may well be the case after hearing him singing excellently for the young actor in 'Mahi Ve'.

If Himesh Reshammiya's voice has contributed in a major way to Emraan's popularity, Toshi too has it in him to have an extended association with Emraan.

Sonu Niigaam and Shreya Ghoshal are expectedly good in 'Soniyo' though both of them are best when it comes to the 'antara' part which musically too is far more impressive than the 'mukhda'.

Krishna sings the 'From The Heart' version which is almost unplugged and has a far more haunting appeal than the version heard first.

Listen to this solo track when you wish to just think about the one you love most with no interference whatsoever from the outside world. Later, he is also heard in 'Bandaa Re' where he makes the maximum impression during the 'Sufi' part of the song.

KK proves why he is the man of all seasons the moment his voice is heard in 'O Jaana' and 'Kaisa Yeh Raaz Hai'. While he is all spirited in the former, he goes pensive in the latter, hence bringing variation in the diverse moods that the two songs are set in.

There were four questions raised at the beginning of this reviews for which the respective answers are: a) The music of Raaz - TMC indeed impresses, b) The soundtrack here is yet another good addition to the enviable music catalogue of the Bhatts and c) Emraan would certainly have some more chartbusters to add to his name.

As for the last question i.e. whether Raaz - TMC matches up to Nadeem-Shravan's Raaz, then well, let's put it this way that albums like Aashique, Raaz or a Saajan are made only once and there shouldn't even be a conscious effort to replicate or surpass them.

In this regard, the music of Raaz - TMC has its own place under the sun and what matters in the end is whether it works for the film or not. Well, the answer for this one is a firm Yes!

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2009 to be Abhishek Bachchan's year!

Year 2008 may not go down as a memorable one for Bachchan junior, what with his DRONA being declared a box office disaster and his destined to succeed SARKAR RAJ proving to be an average show. The only silver lining was Karan Johar's Tarun Mansukhani directed DOSTANA, which has done very well at the turnstile. With DOSTANA inching towards an above average status from India (already a super–hit in the Overseas) good luck seems to be back in Abhishek Bachchan's life. And it appears from the superb promos of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's DILLI 6 that lady luck is here to stay with Ab's Baby for a while.

Yes, the promos of DILLI 6 (or DELHI 6?) are out on all leading satellite channels and portals and going by the response that it has generated, it appears that Abhishek has another winner on hand. Music maestro A.R. Rahman's lilting background musical score on the harmonica and ghatam enthralls the senses and once again expectations surmount that Rahman will create magic, just like he did with RANG DE BASANTI. Sonam's pretty, innocent looks, Abhishek Bachchan's brooding, intense visuals and the historic old Delhi, all conjure up a beautiful picture and build up the audience's curiosity.

Looks like Rakeysh is continuing from where he left off in RDB. And in the process we feel that 2009 may well be Abhishek's year, especially now that Mani Ratnam's RAVANA is progressing at a brisk pace towards completion and Rohan Sippy's next with Abhishek is on the anvil from January!
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Snowy Days

On Tuesday night and Wednesday we got our first snow of the season in Powell River, BC. Cold arctic air has temperatures plunging and there looks to be another cold week ahead.

On Thursday, Wayne and I went up to our float cabin for the first time in three weeks. It was a winter wonderland with sparkling white snow and brilliant blue skies.

The snow was powder fine and crunched under our boots as we made our way to the cabin door. We built a roaring fire in our Kozi wood stove and settled back to enjoy the view of Goat Island and a cloudless sky.

Today we are heading back up the lake to settle back into our cabin. It's always such a good feeling to be back home. -- Margy

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In the garden

'Footy's Top Ten' Hardest Men - Part Three!

I shall now conclude the final chapter on the subject of 'Football’s Hardest Men' with the final three names that I would consider as the most suitably apt nominees to complete my 'Top Ten' inventory.

In Part One on the 25th November, I focused on Duncan Ferguson, Claudio Gentile, Billy Whitehurst & Dave Mackay.

In Part Two on the 28th November, the men in question were Frank Barson, Norman Hunter & Andoni Goikoetxea.

Now in Part Three, I am going to focus my attention on the following 'hardmen' who have graced our beautiful game.

Before football became a non-contact sport, players frequently spoke about the first 10 minutes of a game as a period in which you had to 'earn the right to play,' essentially by being hard!
In the same breath it was arguably even more important the other way round: you had to earn the right to be hard by showing you could play; otherwise you came across as a sort of cowardly fraud, presenting the facade of being hard.

Step forward Graeme Souness.
Did Souness 'pass that test? He gave the test!'

In his playing days at Liverpool, Sampdoria and Rangers, the Scottish international midfielder was known as one of the toughest competitors in the game.

Graeme Souness, was similar in many ways to say Johnny Giles. He could actually play the game, he didn't need to just kick people up in the air all afternoon. Everybody knows what a gifted technician Souness was on the field, but if you're like me what you might well remember him for was some of the most horrendous tackles he unleashed on his opponents - potentially career ending ones. Perhaps the worst I ever saw was when he was playing for Scotland against Iceland one time. The Icelandic player had the temerity to go for a fifty-fifty with Souness and collected most of the Scotland man's studs firmly in his groin.

One of Bob Paisley's majestic trio of Scottish captures, with Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen, he cost £352,000 from Middlesbrough in January 1978. Five months later he supplied the pass at Wembley for Dalglish to score the only goal to beat Bruges & retain the European Cup. In general during his Anfield career the Scotland captain responded brilliantly to Paisley's demand to curb his explosive temperament and he became a midfielder of immense stature.

In six successful seasons as a Liverpool player Graeme Souness was at the heart of Liverpool's triumphs. Memorably described as 'a bear of a player with the delicacy of a violinist,' he was a high-octane blend of amazing strength & bewitching subtlety (centre left).

But when the legs & to a lesser extent, the eyes went towards the end of his career, he had to rely on an inadvertently hilarious thuggery.

He moved to Italian football in 1984, but returned to the UK as player/manager of Glasgow Rangers.

In 1986 Souness marked his Rangers debut with a red card inside half an hour, for a two-footed outrage on Hibernian's George McCluskey, thus sparking a mass 22-man brawl. (Souness actually nobbled the wrong gangling mullet, an easy mistake to make in Edinburgh in the mid-80s).

Even as a football manager he seemed to court controversy wherever he went.
Most famously in 1996 he nearly caused a riot while boss of Galatasaray, by planting a Galatasaray club flag on the centre spot of the pitch, of fellow Turkish side & arch-rivals Fenerbahce.

In Ron Harris, the man they called 'Chopper' you had a guy who was considered the unacceptable face of a talented Chelsea team in the late 1960’s & early 1970’s.

In that footballing era, every side had a so-called destroyer, a hatchet man, whatever you want to call them. There was at the Arsenal, Peter Storey, at Liverpool Tommy Smith, at Man Utd you had Nobby Stiles......& so on.

Harris was said to have tried to intimidate opponents even in the tunnel before a match, with a choice sentence perhaps containing the word 'ambulance'
Harris denies this saying that in fact he seldom used to speak to anyone before or during a game. However he said his manager at Chelsea at the time, Tommy Docherty did give him a tip about man-marking.
'He told me to larrup somebody in the first few minutes, and after that just to stay behind them & cough every now and then, to show them I was not too far away.'
The tactic plainly worked in the case of Tottenham’s Jimmy Greaves, marked by Chopper 19 times, scoring just the once.

It is Greaves, in fact, who wrote a foreword in a book saying, 'I've been acquainted with Ron Harris, better known as Chopper, for longer than I care to remember - and for most of that time I thought he was an evil git.' Harris came into his own in the 1970 FA Cup Final & subsequent replay against Leeds – two of the most bruising games ever seen!

His assault on Eddie Gray in the replay was one of the reasons the Blues won the trophy. Today there would not have been a player left on the pitch come the end of that Final. Nowadays it seems that too many teams have a soft centre where their midfield should be.

The game is much faster these days, of course, and the timing of a tackle is becoming a thing of precision. Old Chopper Harris, who was so short-sighted he had to be pulled back from scything down his own team-mates, would be permanently suspended these days.

Dissent is a major cause of cautions. And it seems that more modern players have difficulty in controlling themselves after being fouled. In the old days a player was willing to bide his time before getting even!

Last but by no means least, the final player to make my 'Top Ten' list of football’s hardest men is Forest legend Stuart Pearce.

Pearce was signed by Brian Clough in 1985 from Coventry City & he became a stalwart of the Nottingham Forest side of the 1980s & 90s. Pearce forged a reputation as one of the most uncompromising defenders in world football.

Given the nickname 'Psycho' by Nottingham Forest fans, the left-back cultivated a 'hard but fair' image that had him respected up & down the country.

There can be no doubt that Pearce was a hard man. He did possess an uncompromising tackle, but there was more to his game than that. He was a great crosser of the ball & had a fearsome shot on him whether it be from open play or a dead-ball situation. Probably his most notable goal was the bullet free-kick he scored in the 1991 FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Pearce was physically tough. He once tried to run off a broken leg in the twilight of his career at West Ham. But it was his mental strength to take a penalty for England in a shoot-out against Spain at the 1996 Euro Championships, which will live longest in the memory of all England fans, as he exorcised the ghost of 1990!

Pearce had missed a vital penalty-kick in the World Cup semi-final against West Germany in 1990, but made no mistake against Spain & the joy and relief on his face along with his clenched fist salute to the crowd when he scored, wiped out the memory of that miss & is one of English football's most enduring images (right).

Pearce later said in his autobiography of his penalty miss in Turin in 1990. 'My world collapsed, I had been taking penalties for as long as I could remember, but now I'd missed the most important penalty of my life.'

The 1992 Euro Championships saw him come up against a certain Frenchman Basil Boli. The giant Frenchman headbutted Pearce, without the referee noticing. Pearce was visibly angry and had to wipe blood from his face. Normally you would have given Boli five minutes at the most before 'Psycho' sent him to the treatment room. But the England captain surprised us all when he just got up and continued with the game.
You wouldn't have blamed Pearce for flooring the Frenchman, such was the ferocity of the headbutt, but Pearce showed he was better than that and beat his man by 'playing football.'

He won countless trophies with Forest and scored some classic goals. He made 522 appearances, & scored 88 goals for The Reds.
Whilst for England he made 78 appearances & scored 5 goals. Not bad for a left back!

*Putting together a list of foootball's top ten hardest men was no easy feat, & I am well aware that I had to leave out many other well-known players, who some of you might consider more worthy contenders than the players I did eventually choose.
So before I sign off I will add an additional list of some of the other players I considered but overlooked before I decided on my final ten
- Nobby Stiles, Joe Jordan, Marco Tardelli, Kenny Burns, Tommy Smith, Terry Butcher, Luis Medina, Peter Storey, Antonio Rattin, Roy Keane, Jose Batista, Billy Bremner, Vinnie Jones, Miguel Angel name but a few!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December Snow Storms

If you read my post yesterday, you know that we had good traveling weather to drive back to our home to Powell River, BC. However, not long after we arrived the snow started to fall.

When we got up this morning, the ground, trees and roofs were very white. It snowed about 5 cm (2 in) overnight and it's still snowing big wet flakes. We decided to walk to our favourite breakfast spot, Starvin Marvin's. A hot cup of coffee was just the ticket to warm our fingers and noses.

On the way back home, we stopped by the marina to see the boats in their very white overcoats. Here in Coastal BC we don't get much snow, so it's fun. On the other hand, I'm not sure my car will make it up the hill to the shopping centre for some needed groceries.

I guess it's a good thing we don't live in Edmonton. Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy are we when everything gets very white! -- Margy

Let's ride!

See many more dogs on bikes.

Aamir Khan gifts Surya a lap-top

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan who is acting in Hindi version of Ghajini recently met south superstar Suriya. The two had a healthy and friendly conversation.

Suriya has lend his voice for the Tamil version of Aamir's flick Taare Zameen Par and Aamir wanted to gift Suriya a high-end Laptop. But Suriya politely refused the present from Aamir saying that he took pride in lending his voice for a great movie like Taare Zameen Par.

Aamir did not give up, he said it wasn't a gift it was part of him that he wanted to leave it with Suriya.

Both these stars shine bright in their respective industries and have a lot of respect for each others work. Wouldn't it be a treat for the viewers if these two stars team up together for a project?

Well, we hope it does come true. Meanwhile wishing Aamir all the very best for his upcoming flick Ghajini.

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Chandni Chowk To China coincidently similar to Kung Fu Panda

Akshay Kumar starrer Chandni Chowk To China(CCTC) is said to be inspired by Hollywood's animated blockbuster Kung Fu Panda(KFP).

According to sources, "In both the films the main character feels like a loser who must fulfill his destiny by rising to an occasion and fighting the demons who want to destroy the empire. CCTC is actually KFP meets Bollywood."

A few similarities seen in both the films are that in KFP the main character is a panda and is voiced by Jack Black who is a cook. In Chandni Chowk to China the main character is Akshay who is a cook himself, and his name is Sidhu.

In KFP, Po leaves his hometown to fulfill his dreams while in CCTC Sidhu leaves Delhi to go to China to fulfill his dreams. After leaving home they both tend to overcome their weakness and learn martial arts on reaching their destinations. Both the movies are based in China with Kung Fu and royalty.

It's also said that the potato slicing scene which is shown in the promos of CCTC is also similar to a scene in KFP where Po is shown slicing vegetables. The only uncommon factor in both these films is that CCTC is a live action film and has a heroine who is paired opposite Akki while KFP was an animated flick without any love angle to it.

When asked the producer Rohan Sippy about the similarities between both the films he said that he had not seen KFP but as per the stories he has heard there seem to be a few similarities.

But he also said that CCTC was written three years back and the story is based on modern day China so it's just a matter of co-incidence that so many similarities have cropped up.

The director of the film Nikhil Advani was not around for any comments.

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Ghajini is 3 hours Long…. will it be pruned for Multiplex purposes?

The big Christmas Release Ghajini has a longer story to tell than is considered healthy for the mutilplexes.

The film's playing time of 3 hours makes it the second-longest film of 2008 after Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodhaa-Akbar.

And didn't that click?

"Precisely, " avers producers Madhu Mantena who also co-produced the superhit Tamil version of Ghajini with Alu Arvind. "It's not the length. It's the performance. You could have a really boring two-hour film. On the other hand you could've a really gripping film that's three hours long."

Ghajini would have been lengthier by at least 5 minutes.

"We were thinking of adding theatrical trailers to the feature.That would've added 5 minutes extra to the playing- time and good 30 minutes lost during the day at the multiplexes, " explains Madhu and refutes the charge that the film is a ultra-violent.

"It's not a tale of violence. It's a tale of retribution. And at the moment after 26/11 everyone wants answers. Films about retribution are always liked."

As for the charge that Ghajini is a remake of Christopher Nolan's Memento Madhu says, "There are other Hollywood films on same theme of short-term memory loss like Finding Nemo and 50 First Dates. So why single out Memento?"

Ah, foolproof method of avoiding copright litigation.

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Shilpa to make her relationship legal next year

Shilpa Shetty put her foot down a little too hard this time. While getting out of her car she accidently steeped into an under-construction area and injured her foot very badly.

"I didn't know how terrible the gash was until the blood started pouring out. I had to get fifteen stitches, " shudders Shilpa still in considerable pain.

A whole song-and-dance sequence for the film The Man had to be apparently cancelled, though Shilpa isn't making a song-and-dance about her injury.

But a much worse setback now awaits her schedule. Early this week she is supposed to leave for London for a photo-shoot for an international magazine. "But there's no way I can manage it with that deep wound and the limp, "she wails.

Shilpa is hoping that some effective makeup would hide the wound. As for the limp, "Let's just say it makes me look sexier, " says Shilpa who claims she has found the ideal man in Raj Kundra.

The two are all set to make their relationship legal early next year.

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Was Ghajini sold for a whopping Rs. 90 crore?

So what's the price of the next biggie to hit the screens this year? I'm talking of GHAJINI. There's tremendous speculation about the price of the film, with 75, 80 and 90 crores being quoted by various sections of the media. The truth is something else.

Quiz GHAJINI producer Madhu Mantena about it and he adds promptly, "The India theatrical business has been sold for Rs. 40 cr. (to Studio 18), while the Overseas rights (sold to Big Pictures) has fetched Rs. 10 cr."

Of course, the Satellite rights (sold for Rs. 20 cr. to Studio 18), Home Video (not sold yet) and Audio rights (sold to T-Series) have also fetched handsome amounts.

Another interesting aspect about GHAJINI is that the film isn't a scene to scene copy of the original GHAJINI (Tamil).

"We've changed the last 30 minutes of the film. It's completely different from the original, " Madhu says. That increases the expectations from this Aamir Khan starrer all the more.

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Shah Rukh did not charge a penny for Rab Ne?

It is learnt that the King Khan didn't charge a single penny from his Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi makers Yash Raj films. But that doesn't mean he has done the film for free. So what has exactly been the equation then? Read on…

Insiders tell us, "Shah Rukh Khan, post the success of Chak De! India has made a rule of sorts for close friends such as the Chopra family, Karan Johar and Farah Khan that he will not charge them any money but instead opt for the stake in the profits that they offer.

He had applied this rule for good old friend Aditya Chopra's just released Rab Ne and his soon to start film with Karan Johar, My Name Is Khan."

"With Rab Ne all set to do bumper business at the box-office especially in North India and the overseas market, Shah Rukh may well end up taking home much more than his normal fees per film!

That's a real smart move indeed of having your cake and eating it too." feels a senior Bollywood trade analyst.

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Will Jiah's sexy item no. match Asin's magic?

Jiah Khan fell flat on the face with her debut 'Nishabd', despite the skin show, the hype and the film's unique theme. Since then she's made more news for her war of words with Kangana Ranaut.

Apparently Kangana was angry about the fact that Jiah got the role which was first offered to her. The two lasses had a cat fight over their common fashion designer, and both tried to be better dressed than the other.

The success of 'Fashion' has done wonders for Kangana and she also has movies like 'Raaz' and Kites' coming up.

On the other hand, Jiah seems to be overshadowed by Asin, the bright debutate of 'Ghajini'.

Asin, a sensation down South has been projected as the main female lead of the film, and Jiah has been missing from the film's promos.

But the lass is pretending to be not worried at all. Now this sounds really strange.

She says she might have a small role in the movie but she hopes that a sexy J Lo type item number will bail her out.

She is still hoping to make it big and be a part of the A-List. Well, we wonder if she really has it in her to be that way

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I can't be compared with Aishwarya: Katrina Kaif

Katrina Kaif has just been voted the most googled girl from Bollywood.

Down with a bad flu attack Katrina says, "I'm very surprised. I really didn't expect this. Google is the only thing I know on the internet. I'm not too internet savvy. Who doesn't want to be recognized and loved?

I think it's really sweet because it means I'm a little more popular with the younger generation. People between 19 and 30 go to the internet more, I think. And that's the audience I want to connect with."

This in spite of the fact that Katrina doesn't think she's sexy. "Maybe the way I define sexy is different from the general definitions. Maybe the people who have voted for me think differently from me..thank God for that! The beautiful thing about this world is that there're so many different opinions."

The names of the other ladies in the Top 10 google searched candidates surprised Katrina. "The important thing is to enjoy this moment. I smile about these things. Such momentary honour makes me want achieve a lot better. They help me take the next step."

Katrina has taken over from Aishwarya Rai as the most googled Bollywood girl. Both actresses have a more wholesome image than the term 'sexy' generally suggests.

Katrina smiles. "I can't be compared with her…She's iconic. I like that word…wholesome. I like being wholesome. Maybe today being attractive has more to do with the relatability factor."

Deepika Padukone and Genelia d'Souza are also in the list. "So maybe too much in-you-face appeal is no longer that much in favour. Maybe finding the balance is important.

Otherwise one appeals to only a section of people. Me? I didn't project myself in any one way. I've projected myself the way my projects have allowed me to. I've been fortunate to be accepted in spite of not being conventionally sexy."

Katrina says she's ready to play characters that are not straightforward.

"I play more intricate characters in Yashraj Films's New York directed by Kabir Khan, Raj Kumar Santoshi's Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and Prakash Jha's Rajneeti. They are nerve-wrackingly challenging.

But I need to go to another level. After watching me in these films no one, not even me, will say I'm just being glamorous."

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I'm not comfortable dancing at New Year's events

Will I dance this New Year's eve? Bollywood actresses answer...

Priyanka Chopra: "It's a matter of personal choice. I'm not comfortable dancing at the New Year's event. But then I don't want to be judgmental about those who do. I've always tried to be different in my choices.

This year I've said no. But if some other year I'm presented with an interesting option and a concept then why not? I did perform at the Nelly Furtado New Year's even concert two years ago.

Celina Jaitley: "Yes I'll go on stage on New Year's Eve in London at the City Pavilion.

The tickets, apparently are priced at a whopping 125 pounds per head. Is it proper to head to London for New Year's eve revelry when Mumbai is morning and most actresses have canceled their stage gig?

It's not the actresses who have canceled their performances. It's the luxury hotels in Mumbai which have done away with New Years eve shows. As for me I won't be performing in London. I'll just be making an appearance.

Although it'll be known as the Celina Jaitly night where Javed Ali (who has sung for A R Rahman in Jodha-Akbar and Yuvraaj) and Rishi Rich will perform. I'll just just go on stage."

"I wouldn't perform at the New Year's eve bash unless I'm sure about the hotel and the security. Having taken care of that, as long as it's a respectable event properly publicized and with a fat paycheck, I'd be tempted.

Malaika Arora: "I'll be performing for New Years eve in Singapore. Performing at a tacky event is a definite no-no. I can tell tacky from classy.

The show organizers who look after their artistes well are Cineyug, Wizcraft, G.S. Entertainment (Bunty Walia) and Sohail Khan.

I know for a fact that these guys would never be involved with anything tacky. This year I'm performing for Wizcraft. I know they'll look after every detail including the artiste's security.

If I'm uncomfortable with the milieu then the answer is no. I've performed at the Marriott and it was a wonderful experience and a lucrative deal.

Koena Mitra: "I'd be lying if I said that security at a New Year's eve performance is not a concern for me, after what happened to me last year (Koena was stalked and manhandled). Now as a rule I double check the security.

Having said that, like any artiste I love performing in front of a live audience. What better way to bring in the New Year?

Dia Mirza: "I've been getting offers to perform on New Years eve for years. But I've never been tempted. Honestly the remuneration offered for such performances can weaken your resolve. But I've stuck to my ground.

So the answer to the offer of dancing at these year-end affairs remains a firm no. Performing on the 31st of December is a personal choice. I'd prefer to bring in the new year with family and friends.

Sophie Chowdhary: "I hope to perform in Delhi this New Years eve.

Although the general mood is gloomy I truly feel that we should not allow fear to overpower us. Recession and then 26/11...we need to regain our strength and power. Of course we must not forget the lessons of 26/11.

At the same time we mustn't be afraid to live our normal lives. We need to begin 2009 on a happy and positive note."

Shilpa Shetty: "I'm not against dancing in a hotel for New Years. After all, what's the difference between dancing in an awards night or at a New Years' event? Please! I've danced on 31 December in the past. But this time, no thank you. I've got five different offers to dance this New Years. And at unheard-of prices.

The fee was tempting. But sorry I wasn't tempted. This year I'm going on a family holiday to Spain for the New Year. I'd any day sacrifice any kind of money for the family. …

Today being in a serious relationship and contemplating marriage I'm in a different mind space. I'd perhaps not be that enthusiastic about dancing at dos. But again, this is not a moral issue.

Please! I repeat, there's no difference between dancing at a mundan or a new year's eve function.

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Kangana insulted at Yash Raj studios gates

We in the media all know how Yash Raj bosses are a stickler for privacy and how well guarded their huge studio premises is. Well just that we didn't know that even some Bollywood stars are no exception as Yash Raj's strict rules are being enforced on them too.

Our source narrates, "On Friday morning just before the trial show of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi began at the Yash Raj Studios' preview theatre, a white Skoda drove up to the gates of the studios and began honking at the gates so that the watchman would open the gates for them.

But instead, the watchman refused to open the gates and walked up to the driver.

Though the watchman had clearly seen it was Kangana Ranaut sitting next to the driver's seat, he knocked on the window and asked the driver whom he wanted to meet at YRF and whom should he say has come while confirming.

But then even that wasn't enough. He then left Kangana and her driver waiting at the gate for some more time till he went back to confirm the actress' appointment over the intercom."

What left Kangana visibly upset was the watchman asking on the intercom to someone at the other end that whether the actress should be let in or not and also whether her car had permission to be parked in the YRF studios basement parking!

Finally after a good 15-20 minutes wait at the gates, actress Kangana Ranaut was finally allowed into the YRF studio" the source concludes.

We are now the wondering whether Kangana shall soon be the next starlet to join the Yash Raj bandwagon following her Fashion, co-star, Priyanka Chopra.

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Bipasha has a ear-full of problems

Sunday was one of Bipasha's worst days ever. In the afternoon, she gave those close to her a scare when a flying pebble lodged itself straight inside her ear, almost tearing her eardrums.

Shuddering at the bizarre turns of the day Bipasha says, "We were doing a heavy-duty action scene when this pebble went right inside my ear. I had to be taken to Leelavati where it had to be sucked out. "

On the surface, this doesn't sound serious. "But it wasn't on the surface. It went right in. And I couldn't move because there was the danger that it would go in deeper and pierce the eardrums, I tried to shake it out. Then, when that didn't work, I decided to let a doctor do the needful."

Sunday being an off day no doctors were available. "The producer and director tried everything. We finally headed towards Leelavati. It was John who got an old ENT specialist friend of his to check me out. The sweet doctor was at another hospital. He drove down to Leelavati and at 4.30 pm, he finally put me out of my misery."

But it was a good three hours of trauma for Bipasha. "Who would think such a thing would happen? Normally during an action scene, you protect your knees, head, etc. But your ear? My parents were petrified. The minute the doctor said it could be taken out, I was okay. It was the most bizarre thing that ever happened to me."

That wasn't the end of Bips's Sunday trauma. "It was double jeopardy for me. When my parents, sister and I returned home we got stuck in the lift while going up to my apartment. My sister is claustrophobic. So I had to pretend to be calm for her sake until we were rescued."

Bipasha has marked Sunday 14 December as the most terrifying day of her life. " It was the most ridiculous and scary day of my life. And that too on a Sunday when I should've been relaxing."
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Akshay Kumar voted sexiest man by People

This week, in a special two-cover issue, People India names Akshay Kumar its first-ever "Sexiest Man Alive" for the year 2008.

Akshay credits his "Punjabi eyes" for his effortless sex appeal adding, "Just for the record, I'm not what you call good-looking. Our industry just happens to have excellent directors of photography. That's all," he tells PEOPLE on receiving the honour. Akshay was photographed specially for the issue in Vicenza, Italy. In the accompanying interview, AK talks gets candid...

"I think everyone just likes to change the way I look it seems to be an amusing pastime for them…I'm not afraid to try anything. It takes guts to be an icon. If we played it safe all the time, fashion wouldn't exist."

"My cleavage is my best asset. Women used to love my hairy chest too. Also, my Punjabi eyes convince women that I'm in love with them. I think that's why I'm always linked with my co-stars. We look so in love on celluloid that people think we must be having an affair."

"My son would probably kung fu my a*** if I flirted with anyone but his mother."
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Aamir is Aamir, SRK is SRK: Aamir Khan

Ghajini is the most anticipated release of the year. And like everyone else, Aamir Khan is super-excited about it. He talks about the hairstyle he made famous, clears a few controversies and hopes Ghajini will be his Christmas present to movie buffs.

Are you counting the days to the release of Ghajini?

Yeah. Now that it has been completed I’m just waiting for its release. I’m thrilled that people all over India are excited about the film. It has a Tamil version too and all over audiences are eagerly awaiting its release. The cast and crew have worked very hard for this movie. My director Ossim, without knowing Hindi, had to adjust.

Your film got U/A rating. How do you feel about it?

It’s great that the censor board, having seen it, has given it this rating. Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The censor board has liked it, we now have to wait for the audiences’ reaction.

Tell us about the scenes that have been deleted because of the censor board.
There were only about two to three shots that were deleted. Unless you watch the movie it is worthless to say which scenes these were. Also, I really can’t disclose this type of information.

Do you really think that you can promote Ghajini through a hairstyle?

See, the idea was from the film’s publicity department. They thought it was good and it is the first time a film has been promoted this way so I am happy with the concept. The film has a lot of offer. I assure you that everyone who watches it will get something out of the experience. So I can’t say that it will become a hit or not only through the way it is being promoted.

Issues about the phone number tattooed on you in the film’s poster were in the news. It all came back to you. Tell us about it.
It was our mistake and I am sorry for what happened. I was upset about it but we did not do it intentionally.

Have you watched Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi?
No, but if I get time I will definitely watch the film.

You are apparently promoting your film in theatres that are showing Shahrukh Khan’s movie. Is it tough always competing with Khan?
My film has only two weeks to it’s release. Shahrukh is Shahrukh and Aamir is Aamir. No one should compare us to each other. We both have different styles when it comes to our work and we are both well settled in our careers. So I don’t know why the media is constantly comparing us. The promotion of my film has nothing to do with this so called Khan war.

Do you think you have worked harder than Surya (who starred in the original Ghajini) for this film?
I saw the film in its Tamil version and I liked Surya’s character. That’s why I asked Murgadoss to make a Hindi version. I was inspired by him. So I can’t say that I have worked harder than him.

This film is quite different from your recent movies. The storyline is not situational or message based.

Ya, but the film is good! When I saw the Tamil version I liked the movie so much that I called the director. It’s true, it isn’t situational or message based but again it’s a different kind of role- something I have never done before. You get to see the action hero in me this time; the one who fights gundas and all! And also, a lover boy! That’s a role I’m playing after a while. I need variation in my characters and want to do different roles with each film.
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Shah Rukh Khan launches the latest Filmfare issue

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