Grammy Awards Red Carpet Arrivals! Who’s your pick for Best Dressed?

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IIFA Awards 2014 Are Coming To Tampa!

photo:webjazba.com

photo:webjazba.com

For the first time ever, IIFA (The International Indian Film Academy)  AKA “The Indian Oscars” will be holding their 15th annual award show along with other industry related events beginning April 24, 2014 in Tampa, Florida USA.

IIFA, an organization which supports indian cinema worldwide will be bringing Bollywood to the USA this spring. This long-awaited event has many South asians across the country jumping out of their seats and making their way to Florida. Director of Wizcraft & IIFA, Andre Timmins had this to say,”We are thrilled to be making our debut into the United States of America next year and preparations for this very special IIFA weekend are well underway. The Tampa Bay Area is a fantastic destination and will be a great host for a spectacular IIFA Weekend. We have been overwhelmed by the kind of enthusiasm and support that we have received from across the region. The unprecedented demand for IIFA has been tremendous and has created the need to take IIFA Awards to the largest possible venue in the city and bring forward the dates for the IIFA Weekend.”

IIFA has made a global impact by having travelled through Europe, Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Canada in the last 14 years. Making its first appearance in the US has gotten Bollywood fans all riled up to see their favorite stars grace the stage at such a prestigious event in indian cinema history.

President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, Santiago Corrada said, ‘We are extremely excited to join Wizcraft/IIFA in announcing the official dates, venues and the launch of ticket sales. Our teams have worked together diligently over the past six months to ensure a successful production in Tampa Bay. Our entire region is enthusiastically preparing to welcome tens of thousands of visitors to our destination, and we look forward to serving as great hosts to the biggest and best International Indian Film Academy awards in history.’

Who’s going?

Brits Holding Auction to Honor 100 Years of Indian Cinema

Photo: balconybeats.com

Photo: balconybeats.com

London will be honoring Bollywood by holding it’s very first rare memorabilia auction in London. In celebration of 100 years of Indian Cinema, a British auction house is selling items with the proceeds going to a great charity. The proceeds from 2 of the 150 items, along with a percentage of all sales, will be going towards British charity Pratham UK that aims to up the literacy level of India’s millions of impoverished children.

The auction will take place on Friday at the Westbury Hotel in Mayfair and reflects increased British, as well as global, interest in Bollywood and Indian cinema in general. 2013 is shaping up as a banner year both in domestic and global box office receipts with records seemingly shattered whenever a new film is released. University of London senior lecturer Anna Morcom noted “Since the 1990s, Bollywood has gone global on a new level, embraced enthusiastically by the Indian diaspora and through them has gained a presence in the mainstream of U.S. and U.K. culture.”

Even Saif Ali Khan has chimed in on the rise of Indian cinema globally, saying “My best investment is to join Bollywood. It’s such a good investment. The business is doubling. When we started, things were not the same. It’s a great time now for the filmmakers and actors.” Saif’s first appeared in a Bollywood movie back in 1992’s film ‘Parampara‘ and has gone on to become one of the many Khans that dominate the industry, the other three being icons Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. Bollywood’s most successful film to date is ‘3 Idiots‘, which grossed $60 million total worldwide, but that mark is sure to fall soon with production values, story lines, and distribution continuing to increase along with foreign investment in Indian films.

Photo: filmsplusmovies.com

The 3 Khans: Aamir, Salman, and Shah Rukh Khan
Photo: filmsplusmovies.com

Valuable items include posters from such seminal Bollywood films as 1960’s ‘Mughal-e-Azam‘ and 1975 Amitabh Bachchan action starrer ‘Sholay‘, among other items. Conferro Auctions director Sharan Seth voiced the attitudes of many Brits when saying ‘With Bollywood such an ingrained part of our cultural identity and the timely centenary of Indian cinema, our first auction reflects India’s rich and vibrant history and artistic practices.’

Hooray for Bollywood!!

Deepika Padukone Highest Earning Bollywood Actress of 2013!

Photo: fansshare.com

Photo: fansshare.com

It’s a Happy Thanksgiving indeed for Bollywood star Deepika Padukone as she has topped the list as the highest earning Bollywood actress of 2013. With films like ‘Race 2′, ‘Chennai Express‘, and most recently ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela‘ becoming mega-hits at the box-office, 2013 has been the best year to date for Deepika. The actress made her Bollywood debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in 2007 hit ‘Om Shanti Om‘ and hasn’t looked back since! With this kind of success she has been able to command one of the highest salaries for an actress in Bollywood and recently made over $1.6 million for ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, co-starring Ranveer Singh, alone.

Rounding out the list are Katrina Kaif at #2, Priyanka Chopra at #3, Kareena Kapoor Khan at #4, and Bipasha Basu at #5. 2014 should be an interested year, especially as Priyanka Chopra is attempting to make inroads into the American market through musical ventures and as the face of Guess Jeans. Will Deepika be able to retain her crown as the highest paid actress on the Bollywood in 2014 or will someone on this list steal her throne? Only time will tell, but with each of these actresses has many projects line up for the next year so 2014 will surely shape up to be one of the best years for Bollywood ever!

‘Krrish 3’ Breaks ‘Chennai Express’ Box-Office Record

Photo: patlumotu.in

Photo: patlumotu.in

It looks like Hrithik Roshan has overtaken Shah Rukh Khan in one important category, the all-time Indian domestic box-office record as his latest film continues to topple box-office records. ‘Krrish 3‘ has passed SRK’s latest film ‘Chennai Express‘ with a robust $36.3 million domestic box-office take compared to the $36.1 million that ‘Chennai Express‘ generated.

The third installment in Hrithik’s super-hero franchise was once again directed by his father Rakesh Roshan and featured Priyanka Chopra and Vivek Oberoi, among others. Despite the success of the film, ‘Chennai Express‘ still made more money overall as it made $19 million overseas compared to the $6.2 million that ‘Krrish 3‘ took in. If you’re looking for the most successful Bollywood movie of all-time, however, you’ll have to look past dashing superheroes or SRK’s action capers to a comedy. That’s right, Aamir Khan‘s 2009 film ‘3 Idiots‘ still holds the title as the most successful Bollywood movie of all time with over $60 million in box-office receipts.

Look to Aamir Khan to try and break his own record with his latest film (and the third installment of another trilogy) ‘Dhoom 3‘, which is set to be released on December 20th. Aamir plays alongside Katrina Kaif, Abhishek Bachchan, and Uday Chopra in the action-thriller that is set in Chicago this time around.  ‘Dhoom 3‘ is the first Indian film to by played in the IMAX format and hits theaters around the Christmas holiday season.

Indian Director Bringing Show About Russian Mystic to American Cable?

Photo: philhopkins.co.uk

Photo: philhopkins.co.uk

Confused yet? In some exciting news on the television front, critically acclaimed writer/director/actor/producer (talented, huh?) Shekhar Kapur is teaming up with ‘Prison Break‘ creator Paul Scheuring to put together a series on cable network FX based on the infamous mystic/charlatan Grigori Rasputin as we near the 400th anniversary of the Russian Romanov Dynasty. The series will be based on the upcoming book ‘Rasputin: Dark Forces And The Fall of The Romanovs‘ by novelist Douglas Smith.

This isn’t Shekhar’s first brush with history as he first broke through to international prominence with his 1994 Hindi-language film ‘Bandit Queen‘ about the exploits of robber turned politician Phoolan Devi. He followed that up by directing Cate Blanchett to her first Oscar as Queen Elizabeth I in the historical drama ‘Elizabeth‘, which garnered 7 Oscar nominations total.

It’s clear what drew Shekhar to the enigmatic character of Rasputin . The peasant turned faith healer was very influential in the tragic last years of the Romanov dynasty as the Russian aristocracy was increasingly fascinated by mysticism in the early 1900’s. Rasputin could supposedly cure people with prayer, but his most impressive trick may have been his will to live as he almost survived a slew of assassination attempts (including being poisoned, shot three times, and clubbed all in one one night!) before meeting his doom in the frosty Malaya Nevka River.

Photo: npr.org Rasputin

Photo: npr.org
Rasputin

Shekhar is keeping himself busy with Indian projects as well and is currently acting in Tamil spy thriller ‘Visharoopam 2‘ as well as setting up the 2015 sci-fi thriller ‘Paani‘ starring Sushant Singh Rajput with Aditya Chopra and ‘Slumdog Millionarie‘s Danny Boyle producing and A.R. Rahman providing the soundtrack.

Priyanka Chopra Is the Next ‘Guess’ Girl!!!

Photo: eonline.com

Photo: eonline.com

Priyanka Chopra continues her push to conquer America with this latest bit of news. It seems that the Bollywood star and ‘Exotic‘ crooner so impressed Guess president Paul Marciano that he signed her to headline Guess’s Christmas ad campaign after only one meeting.

Priyanka wryly noted “I’m like their first brown model. For a global fashion brand, for them to move their campaign into a global space, for me it’s an honor.”  The actress has already taken some great looking black and white photos for the campaign with photographer Bryan Adams and joins the likes of Claudia Schiffer, Anna Nicole Smith, and Kate Upton as the featured face of Guess clothing.

Priyanka went on to say “I’m not too American and I’m not too Indian, but I’m a global citizen and that’s what most people are today. And I don’t want to have to change who I am to try and fit in or cater to a certain audience. ” The 31-year old first came to prominence when she became the youngest Miss World winner ever at the tender age of 17 back in 2000 and has gone on to star in numerous, highly successful Bollywood productions since then.

You can look for Priyanka to reprise her role as Priya in ‘Krrish 3‘ with co-stars Hrithik Roshan and Aamir Khan. She has also just announced that her latest single, a solo effort, will drop in December. This follows on successful collaborations with Pitbull and will.i.am on the singles ‘Exotic‘ and ‘In My City‘, respectively.

Akshay Kumar: Pakistani Contributions to Bollywood Valuable and Memorable

Photo: desimartini.com

Photo: desimartini.com

At a time when Pakistani/Indian relations are tense and a Pakistani film named ‘Waar‘ is setting box-office records in Pakistan, it’s nice to see actor Akshay Kumar reaching out to give Pakistani contributors to Bollywood their due.  Recently Akshay had the following to say regarding Pakistani additions to Bollywood: “From their powerful dialogue delivery to incredible music talent, Pakistanis have made valuable contribution to Bollywood. Some of the most memorable songs of Bollywood have been sung by Pakistani artists and the opportunities to work together will be endless.”

Akshay’s latest film ‘Boss‘ hit theaters last week and has already collected 45.55 million Rupees (or $732,183) in India’s domestic box-office. In stark opposition to Indian production ‘Boss‘ is Pakistan’s ‘Waar‘, which has done record business in Pakistan by earning 42.6 million Rupees (or $693,000 roughly) in it’s first three days of release. The controversial film, which some believe was funded in part by the Pakistani government, beat out Kumar’s ‘Boss‘ 10 million mark it’s first three days of release in Pakistan.  ‘Waar‘, starring Shaan Shahid, seems to place the blame for Pakistan’s terrorist woes squarely on Indian shoulders, especially India’s RAW (India’s version of the C.I.A., it stands for Research and Analysis Wing).  Political murders, kidnappings, and other malfeasance are conducted by two Indian RAW agents in the film.

Although the film has done well in it’s first weekend, it remains to be seen if ‘Waar‘ can recoup its high 250 million Rupee (roughly $4 million) budget despite the record returns early on. Even with the film’s controversial subject matter and story line, let’s be optimistic that ‘Waar‘, which means “to strike” in Urdu, signals a renaissance in Lollywood and the beginnings of a new Pakistani national arts platform. Some art is better than no art, we hope.

Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar Starring in Salman Khan Flick!

photo: aceshowbiz.com Kunal Nayyar with his lovely wife Miss India 2006 Nayyar Kapur

photo: aceshowbiz.com
Kunal Nayyar with his lovely wife Miss India 2006 Nayyar Kapur

Looks like Kunal Nayyar is one busy man these days. Not only has the British-born, Indian-raised actor starred as awkward physicist Rajesh Koothrappali on hit TV show ‘The BIg Bang Theory‘ for the past seven years, he also has a slew of movies on tap.  Kunal is appearing in ‘Dr. Cabbie‘, produced by Salman Khan, and ‘The Scribbler‘ as well as lending his voice to a character named Gupta in ‘Ice Age 4‘.

Kunal, who initially came to the U.S. to study business and took acting classes as a way to make friends, has truly enjoyed being a part of a hit American sitcom. When talking about his time on ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ Kunal called it “A dream come true. Like Bollywood, it’s extremely difficult to get a break in Hollywood. I have always wanted to be on an American sitcom. Everytime I think about the show, I pinch myself really hard to check if it’s for real. I feel very blessed and humble to be part of the show. This is a special moment in my career.

As for his upcoming films, Kunal said “there’s ‘The Scribbler’, which is a small role. It’s in the horror genre, something that I have been wanting to be a part of. The other is ‘Dr Cabbie‘ that’s produced by Salman Khan. I play a cab driver who’s an interesting character. I loved playing the role.”

Kunal has also said that although he’s currently working only in Hollywood, he hasn’t ruled out performing in Bollywood as he loves Bollywood films and “When the right time and project comes along I’ll definitely want to act in a Hindi film.”  Let’s hope he starts performing in Bollywood films as well and keeps increasing the profile of Indians in Hollywood!

Woody Allen Pulls Film ‘Blue Jasmine’ Over India’s Censorship Laws

photo: zekefilm.com

photo: zekefilm.com

Woody Allen has decided to pull his latest film, ‘Blue Jasmine‘, from it’s Indian premiere date and showings in India over the nation’s censorship laws concerning the depiction of smoking in films.  Ever since 2011 a change to the  Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act of 2003 has made it compulsory that any film in which the characters smoke must also have a 30-second ad from the Ministry of Health decrying the ill effects of smoking along with a message that scrolls at the bottom of the screen. The scrolling message again reiterates the harmful effects on one’s health from smoking and that the actors in the film are in no way endorsing smoking.

Allen chafed at the idea of an extremely graphic ad interrupting his film. The ad shows mouth tumors, unhealthy, cancer ridden lungs, and other shocking images to dissuade Indians from smoking. India has 275-million users of tobacco with 1-million dying annually of tobacco-related illness so this represents an extreme attempt to curb smoking, especially among highly impressionable youngsters.

Blue Jasmine‘ stars Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., and Peter Sarsgaard in a film about a New York socialite arriving in her sister’s life in San Francisco amidst a whirlwind of trouble. The legally-required smoking messages in India are a source of derision in India with filmmaker Onir noting “Every time they appear on the screen, entire theaters in Bombay erupt in laughter. It shows the double standards of the country. On the one hand, you create an exclusive space on the airport for privileged people to smoke, while on the other hand, you have a problem that other people are watching fictional characters smoke on screen.”

In a country where alcoholism seems to be a growing problem, the singling out of smoking in cinema seems a bit hypocritical by the Indian government.

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