"Having spent 7 years before joining films in Kolkata, and then over 40 years and on, with Bengal in my home, it does rub off," said Amitabh Bachchan, tongue firmly in cheek, when we asked him what informed his spirited rendition of the cantankerous old Bengali hypochondriac, Bhashkor Bannerjee in 'Piku'.
"Also having worked with several Bengali directors allowed me to keep some observations within. Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee, Shakti Samanta, Pramod Chakravorty, Dulal Guha and more, helped in recreating some moments in 'Piku'," said Bachchan.
Did you know any one like him while you were there, we enquired gently.
"Errr .. NO !!" said Bachchan, a tad too emphatically, distancing himself further from Bannerjee's obsession with the alimentary track with, "The scatological inputs were from the writer and the director."
What's the next challenging role you are working on, we asked the star.
"I am doing Wazir, a Vinod Chopra production, in which I play a character without legs, confined to a wheel chair throughout the film," said Bachchan, who appears to be hugely enjoying this chapter of his career, going by his masterly performances in films like Shamitabh, Paa and Piku. "But I cannot say whether it is challenging or not ..." he added.
The world on his platter
Word comes in that the four-time Michelin starred US-based chef Vikas Khanna, whose book, Utsav - A Culinary Epic, was launched yesterday at the India Pavilion in Cannes, has roped in no less than US President Barack Obama to contribute a note. "The US President will be writing a special handwritten note in gold ink for the limited edition copy that will be auctioned by Sotheby's," said Khanna's spokesperson.
The Amritsar born chef, named in 2011 as one of People magazine's 'Sexiest Man Alive,' and Obama, go back a long way with Khanna catering for several parties at the White House. He also prepared a Gandhian static meal for the US President when he was in India.
Utsav, we are informed, is a paean to Indian festivals and weighs almost 16 kilos.
"He will be showing it at Buckingham Palace, The White House, and to world leaders in Sweden and Japan before he returns to show it to PM Narendra Modi," says the spokesperson.
Dubsmashers in Bollywood
Did narcissistic Bollywood really need another way to demonstrate how clever and cute it can be? We're referring to Dubsmash, the new mobile phone app that's taken the world by storm.
Inspired by the selfie craze, the app has a database of popular snippets from international songs, classic Bollywood dialogues, cult advertisements and almost everything else in between, which allows users to lip sync to these clips resulting in hilarious renditions.
And whereas Hollywood and show biz celebrities, like Hugh Jackman, Sofia Vergara, and Rihanna have demonstrated their histrionic talent through it, Bollywood has recently jumped on the dubbing bandwagon with actors like Priyanka Chopra, Sonakshi Sinha, Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt dubsmashing their way to social media glory in full throttle.
Some of the performances we liked were Alia playing the grumpy kid from the comic strip 'garbage bin', Sonakshi's take on her father's famous dialogues and Ranveer's version of his co-star, Anil Kapoor's dialogue from the upcoming film, Dil Dhadakne Do.
And with its prowess at dubbing, you could say this is one app that's made for Bollywood.
All wired up
"The site launched last Monday. It had great 'buzziness' and we were trending on twitter." It was our friend and former colleague Sidharth Bhatia, who, along with other journos, notably former editor of The Hindu Sidharth Vardarajan, had recently launched a web zine, The Wire, to compete with sites like Scroll and the Huffington Post for Indian eyeballs.
"On the first day, we had an article by former foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon on China, we had a story about the use of the Gondi language in Naxal areas, and I wrote about Mumbai's two great tourist attractions : Salman Khan's home and the scene of the accident at the American Express Bakery," said Bhatia, adding, "Our approach is damn good writing and reporting. Professional journalism with no corporate pressures."
Understated and strong
While the attention has been focused on Johnny Balraj, the protagonist of Bombay Velvet played by Ranbir Kapoor, and the film's main antagonist Kaizad Khambatta, played by Karan Johar, another pivotal character deserves some of the limelight.
Siddhartha (Babu) Basu, head of production house Big Synergy, and perhaps better known as the man who helped in resurrecting Big B's career by producing 'Kaun Banega Crorepati', who plays a pivotal role in the film, that of the scheming mayor of Bombay.
And what's more, this Delhi stage veteran who first came to public attention as the host of DD's classic quiz show 'Quiz Time,' has turned in an understated but memorable performance.
Exclusive for night owls
It could become the Studio 54 of the suburbs. The place where revellers really let their hair down. We're talking about this recently opened glitzy nightspot located in a hotel near the international airport.
Named after its flamboyant young owner, the scion of a well-heeled Delhi family, the club has been attracting the young and restless from across the city with its promise of non-stop action.
"There is a big VVIP section constructed behind the main dance floor and adjacent to the bar," says a source. "Inside is another exclusive club replete with a full DJ booth, a large bar area and unisex restroom manned by bulky bouncers that is only open to people on the owner's guest list, which fills up once the regular club closes at 3 am, and goes on till just before breakfast!"
Great marketing or just the young man's private weekend playground we wonder.