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    X Factor
    Bollywood is waiting with bated breath for the arrival of XXX and Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel who has included Mumbai on his world tour promoting his action thriller XXX: Return of Xander Cage. Locally, what this means for us is that it’s also Deepika Padukone’s debut film in Hollywood. The actress will not just be seen in a sexy action avatar but she is also seen romancing Vin Diesel in this sequel of the hit franchise. The film releases in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions too. Diesel’s visit includes promotions for the film, interviews, fan meetings and – one guesses – a glitzy party where Padukone can introduce her A-list Hollywood star friend to her A-list Bollywood star friends. Wonder if Priyanka Chopra is also plotting to bring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron down when it’s time to promote Baywatch later this year!

    Quick to judge
    By the time this column is published, the verdict will be out on the first two releases of 2017 – OK Jaanu and Haraamkhor. While I am extremely pleased that Shlok Sharma’s film, which has been a long time waiting for release, is finally seeing the light of the projector, I am highly sceptical about OK Jaanu (not least because of the cringe-worthy title). This might be a result of having seen and thoroughly enjoyed Mani Ratnam’s O Kadhal Kanmani. Aditya Roy Kapur does not have the charm of Dulquer Salmaan and Shraddha Kapoor surely cannot match up to the screen presence and wonderful portrayal of Tara by Nithya Menen. I say this based on the flat performances seen in the dull promos. However, what might just elevate the experience is the older couple played by Naseeruddin Shah and Leela Samson. I was talking to a filmmaker friend recently and he made a sharp assessment of why the Ratnam young love story, with Rahman’s hit soundtrack, was not translating well into Hindi. His theory was that director Shaad Ali should have got someone younger with the pulse of Gen-X and their lingo to write the dialogue and lyrics, and not the 80-year-old Gulzar, who might be a master of his craft, but is probably disconnected from today’s youth. As I said, by the time this column comes out, many of these questions would have been answered already.

    Candid over coffee
    Just when it looked like Koffee With Karan had run out of steam (following two-three deathly dull episodes such as Shahid Kapoor/ wife Meera, Jacqueline Fernandez/ Sidharth Malhotra), the show seems set to turn up the heat again. Warming up the couch are yummy mummy Kareena Kapoor Khan and fashionista Sonam Kapoor. KJo and Kareena are childhood besties and known to enjoy a good gossip session. Sonam and Kareena were also slated to do a film together before Mrs Khan announced her pregnancy. Veere Di Shaadi may get back on track once the newly minted mummy gets back from maternity leave. As for the younger Kapoor lady, on the back of her award-winning performance in Neerja, it will be interesting to see what film choices she makes in the next year. For now, Sonam is upposedly doing R Balki’s next film with Akshay Kumar, titled Pad Man.

    Stealing hearts
    Besides the glamourous Priyanka Chopra and Dev Patel with his unkempt mop of hair, another Indian stole hearts at the recent Golden Globe Awards. It was little Sunny Pawar who plays the young Saroo in Lion, the real life story of a five-year-old boy who gets lost in the streets of Calcutta until an Australian couple adopts him. Raised far away from his home and birth family in Tasmania, Australia, and now grown up as Saroo – played by Patel — he sets off on a journey to trace his home. Lion cub Pawar will also be seen in another Hollywood film, Love Sonia.

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