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Kung Fu Panda 2 (Movie Review)

The trailer of "Kung Fu Panda 2" claimed that the film comes with 'double the awesomeness'. For a change, the final product indeed lives up to the tall claims of its trailer with a film that is both funnier and darker than its prequel.

Our fat, lovable and perennially hungry Panda Po (Jack Black), though accepted by his dragon warrior mates is not accepted by master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman).

Meanwhile, China has to contend with the rise of Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who has a master weapon with which he is bent upon destroying Kung Fu and bringing China under his power. The only ones who can stop him is our motley gang of warriors. But the secrets to Po's quest for his parents will threaten their mission.

"Kung Fu Panda" took upon the well-known concept of the different fighting styles known in Kung Fu and instead of humans doing the different animals' styles, had the animals do their own styles.

It invented gags and situations that left the audiences laughing. This part not only takes the elements from the first that made it so popular, but builds upon it to humorous consequences.

The film is also an example of how despite being limited by the idiosyncrasies of the characters and situations set in the first part, the modifications and adaptations can be simply wonderful and original under the careful pen of imaginative writers and the camera of a skilled director.

The film is funnier, yet the emotional search of the Panda's roots and an evil, power-hungry villain makes it much darker than the original while also making it engaging for serious adults as well. Also, the metaphor of the film, against modernity and destructive science, is extremely serious and 'adult'.

History tells us that the genesis of gunpowder, that changed the world, its politics and science, was in China. However, while the Chinese never went beyond using it for fun and fire works, it reached Europe through the Arabian traders.

Europe, and Christianity, was going through its dark age then and was engaged in a prolonged religious and economic war with Islam. What interestingly turned the tide in their favour was when the Europeans figured how to use gunpowder in guns. The rest as they say is history which saw Europe colonise most of the remaining world, including China.

"Kung Fu Panda 2" makes an allegory of the same in the form of Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who, like the Europeans, figures out the use of gun powder in canons and sets out to destroy China itself. However, while unarmed Kung Fu fighters are able to prevent him in the film, the reality of what Europe did to the world with their new found power is much more destructive.

Besides your usual voiceover, the film also features the voices of some other martial arts favourites, include Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jackie Chan to the delight of martial arts fans.

The force is definitely stronger with this sequel that expands upon the vistas of the original and whose end foretells another instalment. In itself, it is a film not to be missed by young and old alike.

Amitabh Bachchan creates new record by singing title track in 'Acapella' style

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan created a new record by singing the title track of his forthcoming film 'Bbuddah - Hoga Terra Baap' in 'Acapella' style -- the first ever in India.

Acapella music is a solo or a group vocal or singing without any instrumental sound.
Interestingly, music directors Vishal-Shekhar had been planning to do something unique with Mr Bachchan since quite sometime and they came up with the idea of using the acapella style to create a memorable number for ‘Bbuddah’. When the duo approached Mr Bachchan with this suggestion, the actor immediately agreed to do it, a release said here today.

Music director Shekhar Ravjiani said ''We wanted to try something new with this song. We did the basic setup and then Mr Bachchan replaced every track with his voice. He recreated the sounds of approximately 10 to 12 instruments, from drum to bass to the snare to the chorus. In a nutshell, he did everything required to make a song.'' Produced by Viacom18 and AB Corp, ‘Bbuddah-Hoga Terra Baap’ is written and directed by Puri Jagannadh and also stars Hema Malini, Raveena Tandon, Sonu Sood, Sonal Chauhan, southern actress Charmi and South Indian baddie Prakash Raj.

‘Bbuddah’ releases on July one, the release added.

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Sonakshi Sinha new face of D'Damas

"Dabangg" actress Sonakshi Sinha has been announced as the new face of the D'Damas diamond jewellery brand. She has taken over from Preity Zinta.

"Sonakshi Sinha is the face of the new Indian woman who is confident, versatile and has got tremendous self-belief. She has the charisma, grace, beauty and the attitude that goes perfectly with the brand image," said R.K. Menon, COO, D'damas Jewellery India Pvt Ltd.

The 23-year-old is also associated with brands like Dyna Soap, Colgate toothpaste and Provogue's women wear line where she is seen endorsing the products.

"I connect with D'Damas because I personally live each moment to the fullest and believe in celebrating life. D'Damas adds celebration to both ordinary and even the everyday special occasions," said Sonakshi.

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‘Pirates 4’ still top pick at box office

LOS ANGELES: The fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie ruled the foreign box office for a second weekend, fending off strong debuts by the "Hangover" and "Kung Fu Panda" sequels.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," playing everywhere overseas, captured $123 million during the weekend, raising its total to $471 million -- more than three times its domestic gross ($153 million).

"The Hangover, Part II" pulled in $59 million from 40 markets. Warner Bros. said the opening is three times higher than the comparable opening gross of the original 2009 hit in the same markets.

The comedy drew huge numbers from its No. 1 U.K. bow ($16.4 million), while Australia chipped in $11.6 million and France $5.8 million. Germany and Russia will open this week.

"Kung Fu Panda 2" in 3D followed closely with $57 million from just 11 markets, mostly in Asia.

The sequel to 2008's "Kung Fu Panda" finished in the top spot in nine markets, with China ($18.5 million), Russia ($15 million) and South Korea ($13 million) leading the list.

This week will see "Kung Fu Panda 2" adding 11 markets as it rolls out gradually over the summer months to capitalize on school holidays.

No. 4 on the weekend was "Fast Five," which grossed $13.3 million in 61 territories, pushing the foreign total for the turbo-charged street-racing sequel to $346 million.

"Rio" came in at No. 5 with $3.8 million from 37 markets for an overseas total of $321.9 million. (Reuters)

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Kucch Luv Jaisa (Movie Review)

On paper, this must have sounded like a terrific idea -- to showcase the amazing talent of Shefali Shah, who plays a disenchanted housewife whose husband has forgotten her identity, not to forget her birthday.

She sets off on a day of adventure with a mysterious stranger, and discovers reasons to love herself. Wish we could love her as much as we want to. Wish we could share her zest to seize the day. The storytelling, sad to say, distances us from the housewife's zany confusions.

The idea of a woman's 24-hour journey into self-discovery needed more careful packaging and a mastery over the emotions that she has to pour out into the script to give the sensitivity that it aspires to achieve.

While Barnali Ray Shukla's writing sparkles, she is unable to put the situations on film in that inviting spiral of compelling situations that would make the housewife's predicament endearing and empathetic.

Once we get over the initial excitement of watching the housewife overcome her initial boredom, the narrative pretty much settles down to letting the protagonist find her own centre in a story that doesn't quite know how to get going. The narration moves forward in fits and starts.

Some episodes hold our attention for the effervescence that Shefali Shah brings into them. Here's an actress who is always in command of the material provided to her. Often we have seen Shefali go beyond the requirements of the script.

However, that isn't a luxury afforded to this consummate actress on this occasion, as we see her struggling with dialogues and scenes that seem to have been written with much warmth but little conviction.

What sees the film through is the intelligent camaraderie that Rahul Bose establishes with his co-star. This a road movie with the traffic in a state of chaos. We know the neglected housewife Madhu is out for a day of defiant adventure in the company of a sullen gangster who has just been betrayed by his girlfriend. Beyond that, we aren't really allowed to care for the two misfits.

By the time the two unlikely companions reach their destination, the plot has reached a dead end. Ironically, the film's best sequences comes towards the end. It's a stolen moment between the mother and her rebellious teenaged daughter in the rest-room where the older woman wants to know if her daughter has ever had sex.

This is the only time this sex comedy mentions the 's' word.

"Kucch Luv Jaisa" is a dissatisfying film about a dissatisfied life. It is littered with situations that had the potential to ignite into furious displays of intuitive intimacy. The moments are mostly squandered in trying to appear sassy, stylish and savvy.

A bit more of sincerity and intimacy would have gone a long way into making this film on unrealised dreams blossom into a work of ambrosial possibilities.

The pretentious songs on the soundtrack serve as a reminder of how much this film craved for more occasion to cheer the housewife's efforts to rise above her deadlocked existence.

Shefali takes the character as far as it can go. Beyond a point, there is little she can do with a script that doesn't quite find its centre.

Mallika: I won't do it with older actors!

Mallika Sherawat adds another tantrum to the list. Apparently for Shalu, an item number in Bin Bulaye Baraati, she refused to shoot with other actors.

Veteran actors like Gulshan Grover, Om Puri and others like Rajpal Yadav, Mukesh Tiwari and Johnny Lever were to be a part of the song. Most wouldn't be dancing, but would simply be watching Madame M dance.

This was the initial plan, but Mallika apparently, wanted to do the item number on her own, without these actors around.

Notes one of the actors, "It was shocking. We had gone for the shoot thinking we'd be filming together.

The choreographer Ganesh Acharya shook hands with us but when we went to get our make-up done, he had vamoosed. The film's director, Chandrakant Singh took over and directed the song."

As it turns out, Acharya had been pressurised to only choreograph Mallika on a separate day. A unit member says, "This must be historical. The other actors were shot separately and then added together with the item number."

However, there was a dance step which Mallika had to do with Aftab Shivdasani and Priyanka Kothari. The source adds, "That was one shot Mallika agreed to do with them and that was done on a later date."

Ganesh confirms that he shot separately with Malli but denies that she demanded it. "There was no such problem. Mallika was supposed to shoot alone with the rest of the actors joining her at the end of the song."

Gulshan confirms that he shot separately with other actors but expressed ignorance on the reason. "Om Puri, Mukesh and I shot separately along with many other actors.

I don't know about the reason. It could be due to convenience, time constraints, cost cutting or date problems. But it was a bit strange to shoot separately, " he says.

The film is scheduled to release on 8 July 2011. A source close to Mallika states that she never put forth any such condition.

The Tantrum queen
Mallika threw tantrums on the reality show Chak Dhoom Dhoom and was later shown the door.
Had issues wearing a bikini in Double Dhamaal.
Reportedly gave Kangna Ranaut the cold shoulder while working on Rascals.

Credit :Mid-Day.com

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Shakira considering album in Arabic

RABAT: Colombian pop singer Shakira said Saturday she would one day like to sing pop songs, if not an entire album, in Arabic.

The native Spanish speaker, who also has global hits in English, was speaking at a news conference in Morocco, where she was headlining the Mawazine World Rhythms music festival.

"It would be a challenge to do an album in Arabic. I would first have to learn Arabic," she said. "I am completely open to that experience. ... At some point I would love that to happen in my life."

Born in Colombia of Syrian origin, Shakira said she grew up listening to the Arab world's premier divas of the 20th century, Egyptian Umm Kalthum and Lebanese Fairuz.

Shakira often uses eastern dance, also known as belly dancing, in her acts, and her hit Spanish language single "Ojas Asi" relies heavily on a Middle Eastern melody. Her eastern origins and musical influences have made her popular throughout the Middle East.

She admitted, however, that she only speaks a few words of Arabic, including "ateeni boosa" or give me a kiss, provoking laughter among the mostly Moroccan crowd of journalists.

Morocco's 10th-annual Mawazine festival of world music concluded Saturday after eight days of music that saw bands from 60 countries, including Kanye West, Lionel Ritchie, Egypt's Amr Diab and Senegal's Youssou N'Dour. (AP)

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