Tuesday, November 27, 2007

POLL RESULT: SRK'S Leading Ladies

I was going to finally do my Bollywood-related-stuff-from-my-trip-to-India post next... but erm... it's not quite ready. (If you'd like to check out non-Bollywood photos from my trip, there are loads on my other blog, check them out here, here and here.) In the meantime, it's time to talk about my latest poll.

Thank you SO MUCH to all you for voting in the SRK-leading-lady poll. I loved the results because they were a little surprising in a good way – the margins were slimmer than I thought they’d be, and our winner didn’t cart off quite as many votes as I’d anticipated. Thanks again for voting.

This is the results post… this has been such a fun poll to watch, and a new one will be going up as soon as I hatch a suitable idea… I hope to come up with something radically different (and female-oriented) for the next one.

The question again was which of 11 listed female actors you consider to share the best onscreen chemistry with Mr. Shahrukh Khan…

KAJOL: No surprises here. The unibrowed-one captured 54 of your votes, to win this poll. SRK and Kajol have actually only done a handful of films together, but almost all of them have been super-hits (some have even attained iconic status), with the pair leaving an indelible mark on the minds and hearts of audiences worldwide. From ‘Baazigar’ to ‘Karan Arjun’ to ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (DDLJ), to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH)’, to ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ (K3G), this couple has always struck just the right note.

I think what makes the SRK/Kajol work is that they look great together (two unconventionally attractive and interesting-looking people), they are both good at expressing the emotions of their characters, and they have a great vibe between them – so that whether its humour or trauma or passion or drama; they just bounce off each other and make their jodi both believable and lovable. I have loved all the SRK/Kajol pairings that I’ve seen, and I have a very soft spot for the picturisation of ‘Suraj Hua Maddham’ from K3G, a film which (ironically) is not one of my favourite SRK/Kajol films (for me, DDLJ and KKHH are much better films) – I simply love SRK and Kajol in that song.

RANI MUKERJI: Again, this actress has made just a few movies with Shahrukh Khan, but apparently those few movies have made such an impact that Rani has received a very decent score of 32 votes in this poll, second only to her cousin Kajol. I think Rani is a very different kind of actress from Kajol; where Kajol is more instinctive and gives freer rein to the emotions of her characters, Rani is more thoughtful and controlled. But I think SRK is equally adept at creating a vibrant and interesting dynamic between himself and each of the very talented and lovely Mukerji cousins.

In her first pairing with King Khan, Rani played Tina, the third character in the KKHH love triangle. Since then, she’s had memorable performances opposite him in ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’ (KANK), ‘Paheli’ and ‘Chalte Chalte’ (as you can see from my screencaps, I love the picturisation of ‘Tauba Tumhare’ to bits). And I should also mention ‘Veer Zaara’ – I think Rani and SRK did a great job together even though they weren’t THE couple of the film.

JUHI CHAWLA: I have to say I love SRK and Juhi together. In fact, if I were to vote alone in this poll, Juhi and Kajol would tie for first place, and Rani would be second. Kyun ki I absolutely love Shahrukh Khan with Juhi. I think they are just excellent together. What I like best about this jodi is the sheer fun and joy that they exude together in most of their films together (with the exception of ‘Darr’, of course, in which SRK’s character basically hunted ‘K-k-kiran’ down – I actually liked them both in ‘Darr’ as well).

Juhi and SRK are so cute together, adorable really; and they always just seem to be laughing and having a blast, making me (the viewer) want to jump right in and join them. Their real-life friendship really shines through. SRK/Juhi have shared the spotlight in films like the oh-so-fun ‘Yes Boss’ (‘Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaon’ is one of my favourite Hindi movie songs ever, and I just think SRK and Juhi are tres cute and charming in the film), ‘Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman’, ‘Duplicate’, ‘One 2 Ka 4’, ‘Phir Bhi Dil Hindustani’ and ‘Ram Jaane’. The cute Juhi garnered 28 of the votes cast in this poll, to come in third… very close to Rani.

MADHURI DIXIT: The gorgeous Mrs. Dixit-Nene grabbed 15 of all the votes cast in the poll, putting her in fourth position. I’m a huge fan of Mads, I think she is so awesome – she’s just a star in every sense of the word. And one of the great things about her is her professionalism, the way she throws herself into every performance and does her best to create the right dynamic between herself and her leading men. Sometimes the chemistry is so convincing that it’s unforgettable, as in the otherwise-unmemorable ‘Dil’ with Aamir Khan; but even when it’s not quite that striking, it’s still thoroughly convincing.

I’ve liked Madhuri and SRK together in the films I’ve seen in them in together (not as much as I’ve liked either of them with other actors though), and I think that’s down to their hard work, professionalism and star quality. Films which have featured Ms. Dixit and Shahrukh Khan in lead roles include ‘Koyla’ (I really liked them together in this), ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ (which I loved more for the Madhuri/Karisma dynamic than for the Madhuri/SRK jodi, actually), ‘Devdas’ (not a great pairing here in my opinion, but a great performance by Madhuri), the oft-criticised ‘Anjaam’ and the pretty darn awful ‘Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam’.

PREITY ZINTA: As far as I know, SRK and Preity have only co-starred in a movie thrice – they’ve shared the marquee in ‘Veer Zaara’, ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ (KHNH) and KANK. In KANK, they aren’t a romantic couple even though they’re playing a married couple, so I would guess that Preity earned 12 of the votes cast in this poll (placing her in fifth position) on the strength of her memorable pairings with Shahrukh in ‘Veer Zaara’ and KHNH.

I am not a HUGE fan of Preity, but I do think she’s a good actress given the right roles, and I think her performance as Zaara in ‘Veer Zaara’ was one of her best. SRK also handed in a superb performance. One striking thing about this couple is the way they were able to portray such a strong emotional bond so well… there wasn’t too much physicality or even sentimentality about them in the film, but they still made you believe in their prem kahani. Great job by both actors. I am less enamoured with Preity’s performance in KHNH (and with the film in general) – I really liked Saif Ali Khan’s dynamic with SRK in the movie, but I was less taken with SRK and Preity as a couple. I still think that they were still pretty good together in the film – and I actually loved the melodramatic scene in the storm (after Preity’s character discovers the truth).

SUSHMITA SEN: Up next is the gorgeous Ms. Sen, in sixth position with 7 of the votes cast. She and Mr. Khan (in a nice, age-appropriate pairing) burned up the big screen in ‘Main Hoon Na’. I remember thinking how nice it was to see these two more mature characters together, both just enjoying their mutual chemistry and doing the whole silly-serious thing. I also thought they were too cute together with the whole sexy-teacher thing and the spontaneous-bursting-into-song thing… I just thought they were great together and played off each other well. Ram and Miss Chandni were really into each other and they were also having fun. Works for me.

AISHWARYA RAI: In seventh position, we have the poised and beautiful Aishwarya Rai, with 5 votes. The lovely Mrs. Bachchan has co-starred with SRK in films like ‘Devdas’, ‘Mohabbatein’, and ‘Josh’ (in which they play siblings). This jodi also had a very memorable dance number together in ‘Shakthi - The Power’. The thing that struck me about this number was that although both dancers were technically brilliant (two of my favourites, actually) and executed some very difficult moves extremely well, the whole thing just didn’t move me. It was like a very beautiful work of art that just doesn’t speak to your heart. I think this is true of a lot of the work SRK and Ash have done as co-stars – beautiful but sorta ‘soulless’ and just not very interesting or compelling. I think they just don’t make a very good couple for some reason. (But she was great opposite Hrithik Roshan in 'Dhoom II' and Akshaye Khanna in 'Taal' (well the first half of it, anyway)).

There are three actors in eighth position, and each one garnered 1 vote in the poll -

MANISHA KOIRALA: ‘Dil Se’ is a film that is difficult to forget – in addition, it’s not happy viewing, it’s disturbing and leaves you wanting some comfort food or a phone conversation with your mama… it’s very tough viewing – especially at the end. But at the centre of it all, we find two central characters that, when they encounter each other, bring home to us all the pain, longing, angst and suffering that are such a reality of our world. I think Shahrukh and Manisha did some amazing work in this brilliant film – I think Ratnam chose just the right cast for his story. Manisha also acted opposite SRK in ‘Guddu’, which I haven’t seen.

SHILPA SHUKLA: This actress, who played the fiery senior player Bindya Naik from ‘Chak De! India’ handed in a very strong performance. I really liked this young lady opposite SRK, she just did the business and ‘brought it’. No-nonsense acting. Not a single sign that she was over-awed by SRK’s star presence. The scene in the locker room was excellent – the way they eyeballed each other. Loved it! And it seems that at least one of you liked it too.

GAYATRI JOSHI: I really liked this elegant actress with a very restrained mien in ‘Swades’. What I liked about the couple in this film was that both the man and the woman were mature – no silly childish mucking around. Gayatri’s character came to SRK’s character when she was good and ready, and she told him exactly how she felt about him – with no hysterics or unnecessary emotion, but quietly and with conviction – like you would expect from her strong, independent character. She knew what she wanted and I loved that. I really liked Gayatri and Shahrukh together in this film. And at least one person agreed, which is cool.

And finally, down at number nine, we have -

MAHIMA CHAUDHARY: To the best of my knowledge, Mahima and SRK have only done ‘Pardes’ (which my mother calls ‘I love my India’ after the film’s super-saccharine signature number) together… ‘Pardes’ is not that bad, but I didn’t like it much either. For me, it was a one-watch-only kinda movie. It was Mahima’s first film, though, and her performance struck me as being quite young and fresh. I think she and SRK were good together, but not memorable, which I guess explains why she didn’t pick up any votes in this poll.

So that’s it… I would have liked to have Bebo in the poll to see how many votes she’d have picked up, but it skipped my mind until it was too late to include her. I actually liked her opposite SRK in ‘Asoka’. Anyway, we’re done with this poll… another will be up soon! Take care…

Friday, November 23, 2007


…there was ‘John Jaani Janardhan’, from ‘Naseeb’ (1981). For ‘John Jaani Janardhan’ Manmohan Desai (who also directed ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’), managed to assemble a small galaxy of stars for a fun music-and-dance number. He didn’t round up quite as many stars for the number as Farah Khan did for Om Shanti Om’s ‘Deewangi Deewangi’, but he did manage to reel in some pretty impressive fish. There was the iconic Raj Kapoor, along with his brother Shammi, and his son Randhir. There was my beloved Dharmendra, Simi Garewal, a very cute Sharmila Tagore, Mala Sinha, Vijay Arora, Dev Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, Bindu and Rakesh Roshan (back in his acting days), along with some lesser-known stars (who knew there was a Simple Kapadia? Dimple I know, but Simple?). And of course there was Amitabh Bachchan, playing the character of the song’s title, John Jaani Janardhan.

I love this number – I especially love the end of the song where the stars all break into a freestyle dance… Raj moves into a graceful waltz, the ladies shimmy prettily, and Dharmendra does this really bad but oh-so-cute strut thingy – he looks like a total wally, but a cute one. Mr. Bachchan is great in this song – he makes it such OTT and silly fun, just as much fun as his equally memorable ‘My Name is Anthony Gonsalves’ from ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’.

Unlike ‘John Jaani Janardhan’, though, the rest of ‘Naseeb’ does not quite equal the superb craziness of its 1977 predecessor, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. The gags are not quite as funny, the structure of the film is not quite as tight, a few parts of the plot fall a bit flat, and it doesn’t have quite as much overall charm. But it’s a fine and thoroughly engaging masala film nonetheless, with a fabulous, bubbly and fun soundtrack by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. I had lots and lots of fun with ‘Naseeb’ – I found it really entertaining.

There are loads (as in LOADS) of similarities between ‘Naseeb’ and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ – I’ve already mentioned the fact that in both films Amitabh Bachchan is the star of a song that’s all about the character he plays in the film. Also, in both films there’s a drunken monologue by Amit ji (in AAA, he speaks to his reflection in the mirror, in ‘Naseeb’ he speaks to a bottle – the monologue in AAA was way funnier).

Both films explore the theme of unity among three religions – Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. This is evident in Bachchan’s character’s name, John Jaani Janardhan (‘Johnny’ for short). It’s also evident in the insignia on the three rings worn by Johnny’s father, Namdev, played excellently by the actor I love to call the Pran-tastic one, whom I always just adore watching for his sheer and utter… camp-ness. The religious tolerance theme is also reflected in the role of the kindly Mrs. Gomes in the lives of Johnny and his brother Sunny (who is played by an adorable and simply on-point Rishi Kapoor – I am very much in the minority on this one, I know, but I think he’s a wonderful actor – the mid-to-late ’80s were not at all kind to him, but at the time of this film I think he was at the top of his game – but I digress). It’s also evident in the relationships of the film, both ‘fraternal’ and romantic; as well as (repeatedly) the imagery and sets.

The similarities between ‘Naseeb’ and AAA go on and on…there are three male leads in both films, and in both films the three male leads must find and win their respective lady-loves. In both films, there are storylines involving past and continuing battles among the fathers of the three male leads, and in both films the fathers are separated from their sons…. And of course, both films share some of the same cast… Amitabh Bachchan, Pran and Rishi Kapoor are back for ‘Naseeb’. Even the funny character called ‘Zebesko’ is back!

IMDB tells me that Desai had hoped to cast Vinod Khanna, the third member of the AAA trio, in ‘Naseeb’, as Johnny’s best friend Vicky. Khanna wasn’t making films at the time, though – so the role of Vicky went to Shatrughan Sinha, whom I think did a good job. His character was a bit ridiculous, but hey, a lot about this film (and this is another similarity between it and AAA) is very ridiculous indeed. Ridiculous… but such fun.

Like the character of ‘Don’, played by an impeccably-coiffed but very evil Amrish Puri. Watching ‘Naseeb’ reminded me that there’ll simply never be another Amrish Puri – who else could play evil so gleefully and with such stylish abandon? I thought this line was funny, especially in view of Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Don’, which was released three years before ‘Naseeb’.

Speaking of movie references, there are loads in ‘Naseeb’, and trying to spot them was one of the fun things about the film. Desai directed the classic film ‘Dharam Veer’ (starring Dharmendra) in 1977, and it’s referenced in ‘Naseeb’ – during the song ‘John Jaani Janardhan’. There are also some lovely references to Raj Kapoor’s classic film ‘Awaara’; from the set of the song ‘Chal Mere Bhai’ (with Amit ji and Raj Kapoor), which is reminiscent both of the opening credits of ‘Awaara’ and the song ‘Awaara Hoon’, to the Charlie Chaplin costume worn by Rishi, Raj’s son, in the show-stopping number ‘Rang Jamaye Jamake’ (which is reminiscent of the excellent number ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ from AAA). I noticed one other filmi reference that escapes me right now (I think it might have been a reference by Rishi's character to ‘Mera Naam Joker’), and there may have been others that went over my head on this viewing…

The story of the film is fun and pretty straightforward (in a very roundabout way) – a lot the script makes absolutely no sense or stretches the bounds of ‘coincidence’ (and credulity) to the point where it’s completely absurd, but then that’s unsurprising for a film like this one. It’s meant to be ridiculous, over the top and little nonsensical – and it all works, thanks to the performances. But back to the story – basically, the entire drama begins over a lottery ticket that four friends agree to share… greed and selfish interest intrude, and two of the four friends are cheated out of their rightful winnings…. Naturally, years later, the opportunity to gain revenge arises…

‘Naseeb’ has a little bit of everything. Unlike AAA, there is loads of action in the film, with lots of memorable baddies, and the fight scenes are very stylish, detailed and well-choreographed – you can tell that a lot of work went into putting the sequences together. It’s obvious that this film was made on what must have been a mammoth budget for that time – of course the special effects and stunts look a bit crude now, but they were really impressive for the time at which the film was made. But along with the slick action, there’s also a lot of random weirdness and goofiness (which I loved); from the skilfully-staged fencing in Don’s lair, to the hilarious revolving restaurant (which reminded me of Pushp Villa in Agra), to Namdev’s spiffy white suit worn with MASSIVE black gloves, to the very, very disturbing salute given by the criminals’ lackeys, to Don’s straight-backed piano-playing skills.. and just when you’ve seen every bit of weirdness one film could possibly offer, out pop Eliza Doolittle (in the outfit made famous by Audrey Hepburn in ‘My Fair Lady’) and Charlie Chaplin!

Can I just say how much I loved Hema Malini in this movie? How gorgeous is she? She looked so beautiful – I know she always does, but sometimes I was just gobsmacked, watching her in this film. And apart from looking lovely, her portrayal of the strong, spunky, vibrant and independent Asha is absolutely spot-on for me – I loved her performance in this film. She was just excellent.

One thing I really liked about ‘Naseeb’, actually, is the ‘kickass-ness’ of the female co-stars. Along with Hema ji, who plays Johnny’s love-interest Asha; the beautiful Kimi plays Sunny’s love interest Kim, while the lovely Reena Roy plays the somewhat tragic Julie, Vicky’s love interest (I wasn’t at all fond of the resolution of the Vicky/Julie storyline – not the outcome but the way they got there – but I guess that’s Bollywood for you). Anyway, as I was saying, I loved how ‘un-helpless’ and proactive the female leads were – there’s nothing hotter than three beautiful ladies flying through a window on a motorbike to save their men. Hot stuff, I tell you. I absolutely loved that moment.

Watching Amitabh Bachchan opposite Hema ji in this film helped me understand why she came in third in my recent Amitabh leading-lady poll. They are so great together in this film – lively, fun, bold, interesting… great chemistry. Totally loved them together.

So ‘Naseeb’ was great fun. Based on its star cast (apart from the special appearances in ‘John Jaani Janardhan’ and the lead roles, there’s also Amjad Khan, Shakti Kapoor, Om Shivpuri, and others) and the fact that it was made by Manmohan Desai, I had expected it to be a good watch, and it certainly was…

…unlike another film I recently watched…in theory it looked great… in the lead roles, there were three actors whose work I usually love– Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore. The film was scripted by the brilliant Gulzar, who is probably my favourite Hindi-film writer (for movie scripts as well as song lyrics)… but despite all that… well, I guess that’s a story for another day. I’ll be back to talk about that film soon… but (hopefully) before then I’ll (finally) be posting Bollywood-related pictures and commentary from my trip to India...

Couldn't resist one more random pic of the very pretty Hema Malini...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Just a Note...

Just a note to say that I’m currently posting photos from my trip to India over on my other blog – please head over and take a look if you’re interested. I’m also working on a post about the Bollywood-related stuff I encountered on the trip – and that will be posted here in due course.

And now I’m off to find out how the ‘Om Shanti Om’ vs. ‘Saawariya’ contest is shaping up. Of course there’s also the Sonam Kapoor vs. Deepika Padukone contest that the press has hyped to the max (because ‘two actresses can never get along, especially when there’s a young, luscious, ruby-lipped Ranbir Kapoor to catfight over’ – whatever).

Personally, I am really looking forward to seeing both movies, but I have to say that while I’m sure I will have A LOT more fun watching ‘Om Shanti Om’ than with ‘Saawariya’ (plus there’s SRK and loads of star cameos in OSO, including my dear Dharam-ji making a brief appearance); performance-wise I am more excited about watching the newbies in ‘Saawariya’ than the newbie and oldie in ‘Om Shanti Om’. Me likey fresh blood (she says, in her best vampire voice). And I find Ranbir and Sonam (and the path they took to get to where they are – co-starring in a Sanjay Leeela Bhansali film as their industry debut) quite interesting. Sonam in particular comes across to me as a very gutsy girl and more compelling to me than the woman the press have tagged her competitor. Usually I'd be more interested in the girl from outside the 'film fraternity', without the starry papa, but I just think Sonam is really feisty and interesting, and just might have more staying power.

In terms of the music, though, I am definitely more in love with the ‘Om Shanti Om’ soundtrack than the ‘Saawariya’ one – both are really good but ‘Saawariya’ is typical SLB-movie fare, in that it’s more classical and intricate and… ultimately kinda slow for the mornings (which is my main music time – unfortunately I can’t have music playing at work, and the hours are long). So I’ve spent many recent mornings with ‘Ajab Si’, ‘Deewangi Deewangi’, ‘Dastaan E Om’, ‘Jaage Soona Soona Lage’, ‘Dard-e-Disco’, ‘Main Agar Kahoon’ and ‘Dhoom Taana’. The soundtrack (sans the remixes, which I tend to ignore) is fab!

Monday, November 05, 2007

POLL RESULTS: Big B's Leading Ladies

So technology is great – we all know that. But sometimes it turns around and gives you a sharp bite in the behind. Like yesterday, when after painstakingly selecting, cropping, resizing and labelling some of the many pictures from my trip to India, with the intention of sharing the said photographs with my friends (yourselves included), my computer did this weird random thingy where it speedily deleted all the pictures I had spent hours working on, leaving nary a trace of them anywhere – and also leaving me with my heart thumping madly and my head spinning with the sheer horror of the moment. Oh well – like the phoenix I shall rise again and do the selection of photos all over – but it will take a while. First I must get over the trauma, and then I must find the time… hopefully I will find it over the coming weekend…

So, instead of posting pictures and commentary from my trip (which I was really looking forward to doing), today I will be doing a long-overdue post on the final results of my first ever poll. The really cool thing is that exactly 100 votes had come in just when I decided it was time to close the poll. Again, many thanks to all of you for voting!

Now, to set the scene, here are some pictures of Mr. Bachchan:

To recap, the question was which of 10 listed female actors had shared the best onscreen chemistry with the Shahenshah of Bollywood (by the way, very belated but sincere 65th birthday wishes from myself to the screen icon). And this is how you voted:

REKHA: The beautiful star of the original ‘Umrao Jaan’ is our winner – Rekha captured a whopping 53 votes. She acted opposite the big B in movies like ‘Silsila’, ‘Mr. Natwarlal’, and ‘Muqaddar ka Sikandar’. I’ve noted before that I don’t really get why the Bachchan/Rekha jodi is so popular, and unfortunately I am no closer to getting it now – perhaps it has something to do with the rumours that swirled around the two actors? I guess watching them together onscreen would be much more interesting if you were also looking for evidence of their real-life relationship at the same time…

JAYA BHADURI: Excuse this diversion, but I just have to say that I love Jaya Bhaduri –she is one of my favourite actors – Indian or otherwise. For some reasons, her performances make such a huge impact on me – I just find her mannerisms, her expressions, her enunciation, just spellbinding and powerful in their simplicity and skill. Recently, at an airport, I was browsing over-priced Hindi movie DVDs and thinking that I couldn’t afford any – and then I came upon one of her films, ‘Kora Kagaz’, and quickly made an exception because I love her so much. And when I heard that ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’ was out at my local cinema, I dropped everything and rushed over to see it because of her – I didn’t like the character she portrayed, but she was true to the character and delivered a good performance. I think she is simply a wonderful actor. (Diversion over.)

I was really rooting for Jaya ji in this poll. I personally think that of all the actors I listed, she shares the best onscreen chemistry with her real-life husband. They are both very good actors, they both have this amazing presence – call it star-quality if you like – that makes them really compelling to watch, and they are both good-looking (in an unconventional, and therefore much more interesting way), but it’s more than that - they just have that ‘x-factor’, that ‘flow’, that makes for a great onscreen couple.

From oldies like ‘Mili, ‘Abhimaan’ (those two are my favourite Amitabh/Jaya movies), ‘Sholay’, ‘Chupke Chupke’ and ‘Zanjeer’ to the more recent ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’; I think these two really vibe well together onscreen – I love the fact that despite the contrast in height, their onscreen interactions never place Jaya at a disadvantage – she always rises to meet up and sometimes even towers over him and grabs your attention more – and I think they are just so… interesting together. They just relate really well onscreen, and you (the viewer) can really ‘feel’ their characters and relate to their story and the way they bounce off each other. So (just in case you missed it amidst all my gushing), I think they are great together onscreen.

Jaya got 24 votes, less than half of the number of votes Rekha received – I really wish she’d done better in this poll but hey, she’s in second place so she did pretty good.

HEMA MALINI: A while ago, I did an update on the poll – and since the time of that update, the gorgeous Hema ji has earned more votes than any of the other listed actors, bumping her up to a prestigious third place, with 20 votes (perilously close to Mrs. Bachchan!) Another diversion: how gorgeous is this woman? I saw her in ‘Laaga Chunari Mein Daag’ and just could not believe how youthful and beautiful she looks. One thing I like about Hema is that I somehow get the impression that she holds all this steely resolve, boldness and ambition within an apparently very demure and mild exterior – I feel she is easy to underestimate (not as an actor, but as a contender – in any forum) and that she relishes and takes advantage of the fact that her soft exterior simply veils a true go-getter. I like.

But back to the topic at hand – Hema has co-starred with the Big B in older films like ‘Do Aur Do Paanch’ and ‘Nastik’, and the couple was ‘re-launched’ in the more recent ‘Baghban’ – I thought they were absolutely adorable together as the yearning, inseparable spouses in that film. I also thought they were great as a cute, affectionate, constantly teasing couple in ‘Veer Zaara’, another recent pairing. As for ‘Baabul’… for me, it was such a bad film that I didn’t notice whether or not they were good together. But yeah, I think Amit ji and Hema ji are really cool together – he’s all humour, intensity and/or gravitas, she’s all warmth, spirit, grace and light; they respond really well to each other and look very handsome together – it usually works really well.

PARVEEN BABI: Hema’s fans knocked Parveen out of the top 3 at the last minute – but only by a hair’s breadth. She’s in fourth position, with 18 votes. Parveen provided many memorable moments alongside Amitabh Bachchan in films like ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’, ‘Deewaar’ and ‘Shaan’. Whether it was comedy or tragedy, these two made a really strong couple and seemed to bring out the best in each other. And speaking of strength, I agree with Carla that there is something strong, vibrant and earthy about Parveen that works quite well with the towering persona that is the Big B.

Next up, in fifth position, it’s a tie between RANI MUKERJI and ZEENAT AMAN, each with 8 votes each. It’s clear from the difference in the number of votes between Parveen and these two; that Rekha, Jaya, Hema and Parveen are the female actors you’ve loved the most opposite Mr. Bachchan. But neither Rani, who did a great job opposite Amit ji in ‘Black’, nor Zeenat, who gave us a fab turn opposite the Big B in ‘Don’, and also co-starred with him in ‘Laawaris’, ‘Pukar’ and a number of other films, have done badly in this poll.

RAKHEE: Rakhee Gulzar has co-starred with Amit ji in movies like ‘Trishul’, ‘Kabhi Kabhie’, ‘Kasme Vaade’ and the more recent ‘Ek Rishtaa’. While I am not the world’s biggest Rakhee fan, I think her performances opposite Mr. Bachchan have been quite memorable, and they make a nice couple. Following closely on the heels of the fabulous Rani and Zeenat, here she is in sixth position, with 7 votes.

And finally… we have a three-way tie for the seventh position – it’s BINDU,


clinching the bottom spot in this poll with 3 votes each. I think all three of these ladies are fabulous – but not the best onscreen chemistry with Amit ji (although I think Amrita rocked opposite him in ‘Mard’). They do deserve an honourable mention, so thanks for giving them some votes and showing them some love. And thanks again to Carla for giving a nod to TABU (‘Cheeni Kum’) and Beth for her nod to NEETU SINGH (‘Parvarish’).

And so those are the results of the Big B leading-lady poll – currently up is the SRK leading lady-poll, and the results are really interesting so far. I am thrilled to see that although Kajol is definitely (and not at all surprisingly) leading the pack, some of the other ladies that I love to see opposite SRK – Juhi Chawla and Rani Mukerji, for example; are making a strong showing as well. Please keep voting. Thank you!