one of my favorite Atif songs “Woh Lamhe”

I was chopping up something in the kitchen while I had my favorite Saturday program on in the background, “Namaste America” –  I had to quickly drop everything when I heard Atif’s beloved voice from afar singing Woh Lamhe, one of his most beautiful songs. I haven’t seen the movie Zeher, but I heard Atif sing this song in Atlantic City few years back and I think it was this song that made me fall in love with him..

Namaste America played some wonderful songs today dedicated to “rain”. Bollywood’s rain songs are lyrical and sexy. Don’t we all love our Bollywood stars soaking in the rain?

God only knows how many stars caught colds filming those.. but hey, we enjoy them.

And when rain mingles with Atif’s voice it turns into honey.. so here is to rain and to Atif.








What happened to Laila Khan? The mystery deepens.

This case is getting more and more mysterious. Investigators say it could have been a property dispute  stemming from Laila’s mother’s divorce from Nadir Patel.

So sad. And extremely disturbing, if true.  Something very sinister emerges when you start reading about the mystery surrounding her. It looks like she, her family and a friend of hers were killed, and the family car then later used in a terrorist attack.

The Pakistan-born actress Laila Khan starred in the movie Wafaa  alongside Rajesh Khanna in 2008.






Here are two different scenarios:

Starlet Laila Khan, 4 family members killed

Published: Friday, Jul 6, 2012, 9:00 IST
By Team DNA | Place: Srinagar, Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The mysterious disappearance of Bollywood starlet Laila Khan took a new twist after her arrested stepfather Parvez Iqbal Tak, 36, told interrogators that the actress and her family members were murdered in Mumbai after they went missing in January 2011. The Mumbai crime branch, however, said Tak’s claims need to be verified.

Tak, a forest contractor by profession, has many criminal cases pending against him and was on the run for one-and-half years. He was arrested on June 21 from Jammu — 22 days after Khan’s luxury car was recovered from his rented shop in Kishtwar.
He told the police that Khan who acted opposite Rajesh Khanna in the 2008 film Wafaa, her mother Salina Patel, two siblings and a cousin were killed after being taken to an unidentified place with the promise of flying them out of the country. He said the conspiracy was hatched by him along with two others, including a Mumbai-based builder, who hired two shooters to kill the family. The police suspect property dispute to be the motive behind the murders.

“He has named four to five people from Mumbai. We have no idea about their antecedents and have shared the information with the Mumbai police,” said Garib Das, deputy inspector general of police, Doda-Ramban range. “We are trying to verify Tak’s claim. But circumstances are such that they may have been murdered.”

“Initially it was said that Laila left for Dubai and now it has emerged that she and her family have been murdered. It will not be appropriate to say something till we interrogate Tak,” said joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy.



Bollywood actress Laila Khan linked to India terrorist blast

Published Sunday, Jun 3 2012, 20:06 BST | By Steven Baker |

Bollywood star Laila Khan has been linked to a terrorist attack in Delhi last year.

The Wafaa actress’s car has been implicated in a bomb blast at the Delhi High Court in September 2011, reports The Times of India.

Gareeb Dass, Deputy Inspector General with the Jammu and Kashmir police, stated: “The vehicle could be an important link to the Delhi High Court case, and was probably used in Delhi to carry out the blast.”

Khan was reported missing by her father in January 2011, after she had not been seen at her Mumbai residence for a number of weeks. The actress is reportedly living in Dubai after exiting India via the Pakistan land border.

The actress is best known for her work opposite Rajesh Khanna in his comeback film Wafaa, which underperformed at the box office following its 2008 theatrical release.

The last person to use the car, a Mitsubishi Outlander, was Khan’s family friend Parvez Ahmed, who allegedly has links with militant groups in Kashmir.

“Parvez, who was using the car in the past, is evading arrest after the seizure. We have intensified the search for him,” added Dass.

The blast in central Delhi killed 11 people and injured 76 others.


Times of India  reported that

 …”Laila had become close to suspected Lashkar militant Tak through a Bangladesh-based terrorist Munir Khan, whom she allegedly married. Laila’s role in Delhi high court blasts came into picture after reports suggested that a Mitsubishi Outlander which was in her mother’s name, Saleena Patel, was used for ferrying the explosives.”…

The Reluctant Fundamentalist shimmies to Cannes

Mira Nair’s upcoming thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist, presently in post-production, is  based on the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid. The novel is set taking place over the course of one evening in a cafe of Lahore,  in the post 9/11 era, where a bearded Pakistani called Changez approaches an unnamed American, joins him at his table and tells him his story.  The  narrative spans various continents, a love story and the impact 9/11 had on Changez’ and his friends lives, torn between the dream of a successful career on Wall Street and the love for his native country, Pakistan.

It stars Riz Ahmed as the protagonist Changez and Kate Hudson as Erica, his love interest.  Other cast members include Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber and Shabana Azmi. The movie is not part of the official selection but will show footage in Cannes.


interview with Mohsin Hamid




Lahore is Delhi 50 years ago: Mira Nair

Subhash K Jha, IANS Apr 16, 2012, 02.57PM IST
(Mira Nair )

Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair, who managed to shoot a part of her next project ” The Reluctant Fundamentalist” in Lahore, Pakistan, says the city, though unsafe to shoot in, was a “twin” to Indian capital New Delhi’s old world charm.

Nair managed to shoot in Lahore for four days, but had to shoot the remaining part in locations in New Delhi.

“We did succeed in shooting in Lahore for four days. But the remaining 20 days’ shooting for Lahore had to be done in Delhi,” said Nair, who admits the Pakistan schedule wasn’t a cakewalk.

“We had to do it with only a full Pakistani crew. It wasn’t safe to shoot there. But otherwise, such a beautiful, refined city and such a twin to Delhi! But Lahore is Delhi 50 years ago. So we had really look hard for a Delhi that isn’t so immediately visible to the eye,” she added.

“The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, based on Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid’s eponymous novel, narrates the transformation of a Princeton-educated Pakistani youth with a cushy American job and an American girlfriend.

Nair, who found international recognition with films like “Salaam Bombay”, “Monsoon Wedding”, ” Vanity Fair“, “The Namesake” and “Amelia”, hopes “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” gets released in Pakistan.

“I sure as hell hope it gets released in Pakistan. I mean I’m not too clear on political issues. But there’s a new liberalised trade policy between India and Pakistan. So if nothing else, at least we can hope to see the film gets released in Pakistan along with the rest of the world,” she said.

The US-based filmmaker says gets nostalgic as she talks about Pakistan.

“My father is from Lahore. I grew up with Pakistani culture all around me…qawwalis, shayari, the poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz,” she said, and added that she has also included a qawwali in her movie.

“I’ve put in a huge qawwali sequence in ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’… an original, traditional qawwali sung by Fareed Ayaz and Abu Mohamed. I grew up in Delhi, but I had Lahore all around me,” said Nair.

For now, she has immersed herself in the post-production work of the movie, which also features Shabana Azmi, in Mumbai.

“For the first time I am doing the post-production of my film in India, and it’s a blessing. It’s so economical,” said the filmmaker, who has roped in Shimit Amin of “Chak De! India” to edit the movie.

“To have Shimit Amin editing my film is a miracle. It’s amazing how I know him. I first invited him to come as artistic director and lecture in my film school in east Africa last summer.

“He happily came for two weeks to teach. I didn’t know him before that. But I loved his movies… I offered that he edit ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’.

“He said he’d love to edit my film. He’s total magic. And so egoless. He’s definitely making a film for me. I guess I’m lucky to get the right people on board,” she added.

Nair was recently also in Delhi to receive the Padma Bhushan award.

Currently in Mumbai, she is staying at her actress friend Shabana’s parental home in Janki Kutir, where Shabana’s mom, the formidable Shaukat Azmi stays.


Agent Vinod aka Speedy Gonzalez

Agent Vinod aka Agent Speedy Gonzalez zooms so fast around the globe that if you looked on your watch to see how long this movie is going to be you lost track of two continents… I had to take a bathroom break so I missed another three and good part of the plot. If you thought Kahaani was moving you too fast through Calcutta, that was Kindergarten. They prepped us in Kahaani, I realized,  for the pace of this movie.

I regretted through the first half not sitting further in the back of the theater. I keep forgetting that this is preferred seating in the action movie genre. If you sit too close have advils handy.

Having said that, getting it out of my way, I liked our Vinod. He is different from the Bond characters, who are kissed by entitlement and different from the earthy type Matt Damons.

Agent Vinod is not a man you will fall in love with, easily,  he looks more like a well-trained Navy Seal who storms through the movie dressed like an office clerk. No big laughs in this BW action-thriller, with the exception of one come-on scene with a male stewardess and one where our Navy Seal pretends to be gay for the duration of a short taxi ride.

I loved the beginning of the movie, although it was an unapologetic combo of Spy Game and Once Upon A Time in the West, the famous scene with the harmonica. Not so effectively used here but evoking a sweet memory of Sergio Leone’s masterwork, a tribute of sorts.

So the movie starts somewhere in Afghanistan (or where was it) and then zigzags around the globe, the mission staying in the dark until the very end almost but numerical clues dropped throughout the first half of the movie, until you almost don’t care anymore what 242 means and the sound of it starts looking ridiculous. That’s when the mystery gets revealed.

But I am talking here as if I didn’t like the movie.  I did!  I thought it was elegantly done, very stylish,  with hints of film noir elements transcribed in color. Great action scenes. Fantastic locations. Saif pounces on his role with a meat hammer. He means business and has a short attention span. We never get to see him relaxed once. A man on the mission.That he shares with Western espionage figures but Saif makes his Vinod look very hardcore realistic and the unraveling plot supports it. It touches upon a raw nerve when we think of the scenario and we walk out of the movie theater slightly more concerned than we walked in.

Kareena looks hotter than ever with a little bit of flesh.. So hot indeed that when Saif  proposes to her we have to believe he means business this time around. But then, given what happens next to her character, snaps. Maybe not :-)

Supporting cast members were wonderfully chosen, I thought. Some great characters. then again, not so well developed because of the pace of the movie. Btw, outstanding performance by the camel. short but highly effective scene. We get a lot of memorable moments here and for that reason I would see the movie again.

Personally, I think they should have done more editing, cutting out more of the unessential, and one or two songs, that didn’t really contribute.

Altogether though, bravo, Sriram Raghavan, creating a wonderful legacy after Ek Hasina Thi and Johnny Gaddaar, this was a really good story. Well-told and well-acted.

Happy returns.







Ali Zafar’s plea for Indo-Pak peace

Poor Ali Zafar is already getting the heat. Why is he getting attacked on this point? Is that a bad thing to wanting peace between these two nations who share a cultural heritage?  Is it an unworthy cause to shed tears for? Men are not allowed to cry? What’s wrong with this world?



Ali Zafar put his foot into a hornets nest. He’s learned out of this that it is better to shut up. One voice less arguing for peace. I guess people are not sick and tired of hate, they do want to hate each other a little bit more, a little bit longer. But one thing we shouldn’t forget. It’s the people who decide if they want war or peace, not the politicians who are in control and have their agendas. So if you stand up for peace, there will be peace one day. It’s going to be a good day.

I haven’t seen the interview, I cannot really judge, but I hope Zafar will continue to stand up for reconciliation between the two nations and not just on TV…

Few takers for Ali Zafar`s tears for Indo-Pak peace

Last Updated: Sunday, March 04, 2012, 16:43
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Few takers for Ali Zafar`s tears for Indo-Pak peace Islamabad: Pakistani actor Ali Zafar`s impassioned plea for peace on an Indian TV show while promoting his latest film ‘London, New York, Paris’, hasn`t gone down well with his Pakistani fans.


Zafar cried on film critic Komal Nahta`s show, saying he never felt like an outsider in India and how well Bollywood has been treating him.

“I tell people back home that I cannot express in words how well I am treated in India… for a boy like me this was beyond my expectations,” he said on the show wiping his tears.

Zafar had difficulty answering the host`s next question (“you did not lose your innocence”) and his reply seemed totally off the mark.

“…If u give love to the universe you only get love… if hate is all you have inside you, you only get hate… I don`t know why people don`t love, all you need to do is love… we`ve wasted so much time hating each other.”

Asked if he was talking in general or in the context of Indo-Pakistan relations, Zafar said, “What happens in the world is people cut each others` throats, give sadness to each other, the two countries are also part of this… we`ve lost too much in all this… The future generations deserve much better.

“We need to evolve faster and get humanity out of its misery… we should get out of these petty issues. Getting tired…” he added.

Zafar said it was his heartfelt desire that the two countries learn to coexist and believe in humanity more than anything else. His latest film has received mixed reviews and this interview has not exactly earned him many fans.

Pakistani websites are brimming with comments making fun of the actor. “I agree with peace, but those tears were fake. Ali Bhai ka best performance of all time. Oscar belongs 2 Ali Zafar…” read a comment on the website

Others accused him of being an “opportunist”, “money maker” and angling for an “Indian passport”.

“He is one of those people, who would do anything for money, literally anything”; “he can cry all he wants, everyone knows the true face of Ali Zafar. It starts with money and ends with money for him. He will sell his soul for money” and “peace is good for business” read some of the comments.

While Zafar himself has been retweeting and endorsing kind comments on his movie, Twitter users are calling him a “drama queen”.

“ we can actually call him `actor` after this performance!” reads a tweet. Another Twitter user said this interview would not help him save “London, Paris, New York”.

Zafar started working at the age of 18 and used to make portraits in a hotel lobby before striking big in the world of music and then Bollywood.

His tears failed to impress several Indians fans too. Incidentally this isn`t the first time Zafar has cried on camera.


Saving Face: Pakistan’s first Oscar win


Pakistan’s first Oscar win for Saving Face,  a documentary from Pakistan by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy about survivors of acid attacks  that disfigures hundreds of women each year,   is as much a matter of pride for receiving the prestigious price  but  it also touches upon a variety of feelings in Pakistan, not everyone embraces it.





Chinoy dedicated the film to the women of Pakistan and it’s their story.  But just as Slumdog Millionaire had evoked criticism in India for presenting a biased view, one reinforcing poverty instead of its incredible development in the last ten years or more, so does Pakistan react to Saving Face.  Pakistan’s image in the world is ripe with negativity and rightly so might  Pakistani get offended when an honor such as the Oscars is received for a tarnished and negatively skewed picture of the country. Maltreatment of women.

The shameful side.  Despicable, cruel treatment of women is common unfortunately in wide parts of the world.  India carries its own share of shame when brides are killed for dowry or lack of submission to their husbands and in-laws.  We find mutilation of women in Africa. Here in America women get killed out of jealousy, rage, collection of insurance money, but it’s a given, we have more rights here in the West. 

Women are still enslaved in so many parts of the world, that if you read up on it, your heart might break into a thousand pieces.  Maybe Pakistani who felt offended by the “tainted image”  showing the abhorrent abuse women suffer  ought to keep things in perspective and not take it personally. Instead of perceiving this movie  as some sort of insult on a national level,  we should all take a deep breath and say:  Let’s do everything that is in our power to protect women from harm. Let’s  make sure they have the same rights and respect men receive without having to fight for it.





Pride over Oscar win, shame over content: Pakistani daily


ISLAMABAD: The documentary that won Pakistan’s first Oscar is a matter of national pride, but its “content is a matter of national shame”, said a daily.

The Oscar that went to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy in Los Angeles is a first for Pakistan. Chinoy, who dedicated the award to the women of Pakistan, has been internationally recognised in the past.

An editorial in the News International Tuesday said the subjects of her work are often challenging and “her winning documentary is certainly so”.

“‘Saving face’ documents the fate of women attacked by having acid thrown on them and the work of a British-Pakistani surgeon who performs reconstructive surgery on their appallingly scarred faces,” it said.

The editorial said: “Over 100, mainly women and girls, are attacked in this way every year, though civil society groups say the real figure is much higher but many victims and their families choose not to report the crime out of fear or ‘shame’.”

It, however, added that although the award is a matter of personal and national pride, “its content is a matter of national shame”.

“Pakistan is reportedly the third-most dangerous country in the world for women after Afghanistan and Congo…”

Chinoy made the film about acid attacks, and “in doing so drew back the curtain and exposed this form of misogyny”.