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    French honour
    Producer and director Shona Urvashi (director Chupke Se, Saas Bahu Aur Sensex) joins a very elite list after being conferred with the Knight in the National Order of the Arts and Letters (Chevalier de la��order des Arts et des Lettres) by the Ministry of Culture and Communications and the Government of France. Other Bollywood personalities to enjoy this honour include Shah Rukh Khan, who enjoys the higher rank of Commander, while Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Nandita Das and Anurag Kashyap are also Chevaliers.

    Testing Rani
    This week, Rani Mukerji makes a return to the big screen after her previous disastrous lead heroine project, Aiyaa, and appearances in Talaash and Bombay Talkies. But the question is, can the petite Mukherji pull off the part of a ballsy cop in Pradeep Sarkara��s Mardaani? Mukerji plays Shivani Shivaji Roy, a senior inspector in the Mumbai Crime Branch, who takes up the issue of child trafficking after a teenaged girl goes missing. Suspicion points towards Walt, played by Tahir Raj Bhasin, whose business is drugs and child trafficking. Speculation has been rife that Mukerji and her husband, producer Aditya Chopra, are keen on starting a family. Her flowing, shapeless garments and a�?ill healtha�� during a recent promotional appearance on a dance reality show got tongues wagging. Given the likelihood of parenthood in the near or not-so distant future, could Mardaani be Mukerjia��s swan song? While we shall have to wait and watch for that information, leta��s hope the film does more for her brand equity than the appalling Aiyaa.

    starajay1Box office roar
    Ajay Devgn is on a high! Singham Returns has stormed the box office and, in the first day of its release, had already clocked in more than Kick, catapulting it to the fourth highest opening film behind Dhoom 3, Chennai Express and Ek Tha Tiger. In a recent interview, Devgn said that he believes ita��s not him but the character of Bajirao Singham that the audience connects with. Singham is an upright cop who does not tolerate any slight on the police force. Devgn believes that action films have always dominated Bollywood, right from the 70s, with romantic films following a close second. a�?The most important thing in an action film is that the Indian hero should know how to use his fists and be able to single-handedly take on an army of armed villains.a�? Which is pretty much what Singham does and will continue to do in part threea�� which one assumes is inevitable given the success of the first two films.

    On the road again
    Since the start of the month, Abhay Deol has been camped out in Pune shooting for SNAFU. His co-stars are Manjot Singh of Fukrey fame and Pooja Gupta. The thriller, SNAFU, would be cinematographer Sethu Srirama��s debut film as a director. But Deol has managed to take time off in between to attend producer Ritesh Sidhwania��s birthday party and pop into a frienda��s wedding that happened to be taking place in the same hotel where he was staying in Pune. What helps Deol during this long outdoor schedule, is that he enjoy road trips and driving between Pune and Mumbai. Interestingly, Deol has been a part of two movies that have been set on the roada��Dev Benegala��s Road, Movie and Zoya Akhtara��s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Says Deol, a�?I love road trips. I have travelled from Mumbai to Goa,
    Manali to Leh and Delhi and around California. The longest
    trip I have done is 12 hours.a�? So the three hours between Pune and Mumbai must be a cakewalk for Deol.


    Udita Jhunjhunwala


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