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India Splendor: Bollywood Stars Shine in L.A.

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 13, 2007 at 9:20AM

I had a blast Saturday at India Splendor's tribute to the late great Raj Kapoor, who spawned a dynasty of Bollywood talent, including the delightful star Rishi Kapoor. Variety's Shalini Dore reports:
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Kapoorraj1I had a blast Saturday at India Splendor's tribute to the late great Raj Kapoor, who spawned a dynasty of Bollywood talent, including the delightful star Rishi Kapoor. Variety's Shalini Dore reports:

India Splendor, five days of pageantry dedicated to Indian film, fashion and fine art, opened Friday with a thoroughly non-Bollywood film, Chak de India. The sports drama, a rarity in Indian films, unspooled at the Academy, preceded by two trailers for other Yash Raj Films, a first surely for that august theater.

After the screening of the Shah Rukh Khan starrer, the film’s writer and director participated in a Q&A with the UCLA film school’s dean Robert Rosen. Jaideep Sahni, the writer, said the idea for the movie came to him after seeing a tiny write-up in the sports section about the Indian girls’ hockey team. “First of all athletes are underdogs in India,” he said. “And women are double underdogs and when the sport is (field) hockey it’s a triple underdog.”

Fortunately for Sahni, director Shimit Amin didn’t mangle his vision. The pic used non-pros for team members. “We picked women who could play,” Amin said. Khan came on board and although there was one nightmarish day when the pair thought they couldn’t get Bollywood’s “King Khan” by the time the women were trained to play hockey, he had the dates available to shoot with them.

On Saturday, India Splendor paid tribute to Bollywood showman Raj Kapoor with a screening of some 30 minutes of Bobby Bedi’s documentary Kehta hai Joker (The Clown Speaks). The footage ended with Kapoor’s filmology to Jis desh mein Ganga behti hai (The Land Through Which the Ganges Flows) when his long partnership (on and off screen) with Nargis ended and Padmini entered the scene.

Afterward, his son Rishi with wife Neetu and son Ranbir spoke with journo Mira Advani Honeycutt about Raj, his songs and relationships. Maybe it was because of the passage of time, but Rishi actually spoke about Nargis — a relationship that was likened to Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

During the Q&A that followed Rishi recalled that his father started as a clapboy, but really wanted to be in front of the cameras. So he would always turn to the camera and announce the take. One day the actor’s beard got caught in the clapboard, which he didn’t notice as he was turned away. Kedar Sharma, the director, “gave him a tight slap,” Rishi recounted his eyes gleaming with fun at the thought.

Filled with toe-tapping music, the documentary would be a treat to Kapoor fans, but documaker Bedi said it was not yet available for home theater fans. Something for Sony Entertainment TV to think about?

Later this week, we are all looking forward to meeting Bollywood's Golden couple, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. She's a Bachchan now.

[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

This article is related to: On the Town, Genres, Bollywood


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.