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We'd mentioned some time ago that Mani Rathnam thought highly of Manisha Koirala. Apparently he isn't alone. Even her co-stars are struck speechless by her acting ability. Not too good when you're supposed to take a cue from her, as Arjun Ramphal found out.

While shooting for Ashok Mehta's Moksha, the model-turned-actor was so zapped by Manisha's started acting, that he forgot his lines. Which, of course, messed up the effect of Manisha's fabulous performance.

Considering that awards are given for passionate and dramatic portrayals, Manisha's restrained roles last year didn't quite qualify. This time round she hopefully has some roles that fall into the acceptable category.

Her major releases in 1998 are Lal Badshah opposite Amitabh Bachchan, Grahan, opposite Jackie Shroff, Dil Se and Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya.

Her personal life too is looking up, with the relationship with DJ Akbar Hussain really blossoming. Or why else would the two be trying to whisper sweet nothings at the Piano bar while the music blared at a Richter value of 6?

As Chunkey Pandey wisecracked recently, while one Husain is daubing Madhuri Dixit on canvas, the other is painting the town red with Manisha.

Going east

So where is Chunkey Pandey these days?

The unlikely but true answer is in Bangladesh most of the time, and married all the time.

Chunkey, of course, never took life with excessive seriousness. Two girlfriends -- Dimple Barot and Anu Kutoor -- behind him, he bounced right back to marry a third, Bhawna. And, marriage, apparently even suits Chunkey.

His career in India was squelched after he picked some weird films till even a super-duper hit like Aankhen couldn't dredge him up from the bottom. Meanwhile, co-star Govinda's career flowered.

Chunkey didn't want to get on the bandwagon and go south; so he went east, all the way to Bangladesh. And wasn't his first film in Bangla a hit! The second too is doing quite well and now Chunkey, sensing opportunity, is learning how to roll those O's in Bong fashion.

Sivaji's lessons

The older you get, the more particularly -- or pernickety -- you get. But you can't fault the care taken by Tamil thespian Sivaji Ganesan who won the Dadasaheb Phalke Award last year and who starred in films like Thevar Magan (remade in Hindi as Virasat) and Once More (yet to be remade).

He's now acting in a Tamil film called En Aasai Raasave where he plays a village folk dancer. And he really wants to get into the skin of the character.

Since this is the first time he's doing such a role, he invited some village folk dancers to his house and watches them perform so he could pick up a trick or two from them.

Not bad, considering Sivaji is doing the role despite not being in the best of health.

Reading matters

Akshaye Khanna is very honest most of the time. Except, that is, when he says he and not father Vinod Khanna takes his career decisions.

More proof of his general truthfulness came when he said recently that he reads every and any paper and magazine he can lay his hands on.

That, of course, includes those icky film magazines that most stars claim they are high above. If it were below reading value, how come you see them slither over a bunch of chairs in minimal clothing or clamp themselves to a star of the opposite sex? Often only to have a scandalous story written around those scandalous pics? Yeah, they do all that, they admit. But read the mag?! Nah!

Akshaye should learn that it's not quite good form in this industry to mouth embarrassing truths in public. People could think he's for real.

Mooch ado about Jackie

For those who believe Jackie Shroff's sex appeal waxed around his moustache, disappointment for you -- it's now in eclipse.

Jaggu Dada recently shaved it off and went in for what he thought was more clean and youthful look. But unlike close pal Anu Malik Jackie hasn't had to opt for hair implants but he still has those bags under his eyes to live with.

But Jackie is not just liked for his good looks but his nice-guy mien. But that mooch takes something away from him. With apologies to Geoff Boycott, it is just too mooch to digest a Jackie.

Of hair and politics

One complaint before we get to discussing the film. Tabu, not having a mooch like Jackie, has decided to cut off her hair instead. Bad decision, though it may have something to do with the new film with Gulzar that we're just discussing.

Meanwhile, ever since Gulzar announced the film's title, Hu Tu Tu, it has tickled the curiosity of movie buffs and fans.

Is it a sports subject or a comedy, they wonder. And Gulzar, though he knows that curiosity, however hazardous for the cat, can see him making a killing at the box office, doesn't want to leave 'em in limbo. He lets actor Sunil Shetty explain:

"It's a political thriller. The title is symbolic of the political kabaddi that goes on in our country where every politician is waiting to trip his rival and grab his chair."' Sunil plays the son of a dreaded politician who rebels against his father and exposes the baddies all.

Heard that before? Think we have anyway...


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