The NewsFuror

Monday, January 14, 2008

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Hrithik Roshan come together for Jodhaa Akbar music launch

Aishwarya Rai - Jodhaa of Jodhaa Akbar on the release of music of the film.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan the main lead female of Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar.

Jodhaa Akbar - Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Bachchan.
Release of music album of Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar.
Main leads of Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar.
Ashutosh Gowariker with main leads of his epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - Acts as Jodhaa in Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar.
Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar, starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as the Rajput princess, Jodhaa, and Hrithik Roshan as the Mughal emperor, Akbar, will have its worldwide soundtrack release on 15th January 2008. The stunning soundtrack of the film was unveiled with a grand star-studded event.
The ambience of created at the music launch, took one back to the moghul era with the entire place draped in maroon, gold and green with gold motifs. Most of the guests too were donning ethnic dresses. The royalty was in full force as well with Maharaj Bhawani Singh and brother, Brajraj Singh Bishambar gracing the occasion along with Maharani Padmini Singh. The Maharani said, "It gives immense pleasure to me and my family to be here. Mr. Ashutosh had given us the concept before he began the project and he has given correct facts. When I saw the audio visuals I felt I have been reliving the passage history since I am descendant of Maharani Jodhaa's family." Ashutosh thanked each and every member of his cast and crew and all the members present there.

Jodhaa Akbar Aishwarya Rai bachchan and Hrithik Roshan.

Present in the magnificent Royal tent, especially erected for the unveiling, were all the singers along with the entire cast and crew of the film including Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, A. R. Rahman, Javed Akhtar, Mrs. Punam S. Sinha, Sonu Sood, Ronnie Screwvala, Sunita Gowariker and Ashutosh Gowariker.

Zayed Khan and Suzan Khan Roshan at the party of music release of Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar.

The musical score for the period film by AR Rahman has been released under the newly launched UTV Music label and consists of five songs that capture the essence and opulence of the Moghul era. Says Ronnie Screwvala on the launch of UTV Music with Jodhaa Akbar: “A film of the magnitude and caliber of Jodhaa Akbar with its outstanding music compositions is the perfect vehicle for the launch of UTV Music. This is in keeping with the vision of UTV Motion Pictures to provide quality entertainment to our audiences worldwide across all distribution platforms. For our first initiative, UTV Music is honored to have the collaborative effort of Ashutosh Gowariker, A. R. Rahman and Javed Akhtar and this is a very proud moment for all of us.”

Guests at music reales of Ashutosh Gowariker's epic romance, Jodhaa Akbar.

Jodhaa Akbar needed a distinct sound, keeping in mind the Rajput and Mughal cultures; it needed to be regal and epic in its composition but at the same time it needed to have a contemporary appeal, which these two magicians have wonderfully woven together effortlessly.” Speaking on the music, A R Rahman comments “It has always been a pleasure to associate with Ashutosh on his projects. We started off with Lagaan and then Swades, both of which gave me immense creative satisfaction as a composer. It was an honor that Jodhaa Akbar was offered to me. Working on the music of Jodhaa Akbar has been a creative challenge for me, as being an epic romance set in the sixteenth century, the music was required to bring out the nuances of that era."

The joint appearance by Aishwarya and Hrithik at the event put to rest rumors of a rift between the co-stars who wowed viewers as an on screen couple in Dhoom-2.

Dismissing tabloid speculation that the two have not been getting along lately Gowarikar says "Absolutely untrue! Aishwarya and Hrithik get along really well. Even at the wrap-up party they were fine with each other. There was no rivalry between them."

Fans can expect to see the two make more joint appearances during the lead up to the release of the film. “We now have a publicity plan for them,” Gowarikar adds.

"The music of Jodhaa-Akbar can't be bhangra and hip-hop. Just because the film has Aishwarya, please don't expect an introductory song-and-dance. It's not a star vehicle. It's about the characters. I'm showcasing Jodhaa and Akbar," says Ashutosh Gowarikar.

Gowarikar also denied that two songs were cut from the film to keep its length under 3 hours "No we recorded five songs and we've retained them all. I treasure every song that I record and wouldn't dream of cutting them for length."

All the five songs of the film were showcased to the audience and each one met with a huge applause after its conclusion. While the 2000 dancers participating Azeem-O-Shan Shahenshah was spectacularly shot and drew maximum applause, the In Lamho Ke Darmiyaan featured the Hrithik – Aish sizzling chemistry at its peak. The lead pair showed no discomfort with each other on the dias during the function and refuted rumours about their being in any problems involved with each other during the make of the film, as being reported.

Lyricist of the film, Javed Akhtar termed Jodhaa Akbar the much-needed apt film in today's times, spreading the secularity message. He told us, "500 years back, there existed an emperor, Akbar who initiated secularism much before those in the west started championing it. Being a Muslim, he never inflicted his religion on his Hindu wife, Jodhaa. She remained a Hindu till her death. Akbar was way far ahead of his times his laws prove that. He had passed an ordinance wherein girls below 16 years age should not get married and imposed taxes on casinos and used this income for the welfare of his masses."

Just as the function was to begun, Shatrughan Sinha made an entry with wife, Poonam, who is making a comeback in the film playing Hrithik's mother. As he was about to sit, Big B immediately went across to him and hugged him. It might be recollected that Amitabh had not invited the actor cum MP for son, Abhishek's wedding and post the wedding when he had sent a mithai box to those not invited, Shotgun Sinha had sent it back feeling insulted about it. Bachchan didn't leave the opportunity to make amends for it when he came face to face for the first time after that. Amitabh is associated with Jodhaa Akbar too having given his voice over for the film ala Lagaan.

Diana considered 'marrying Khan'

Paul Burrell and Princess Diana
Paul Burrell worked for Princess Diana for more than 10 years
Princess Diana's former butler has told the inquest into her death she had considered a private marriage to heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.

Paul Burrell said he spoke to his parish priest about how a Christian woman and Muslim man might marry.

Mr Burrell worked for Diana for more than 10 years.

He also said that he "connected all the princess's friends and all her world" and was "at the hub of the wheel, everybody was at the spokes".

She asked me if it was possible to arrange a private marriage between her and Hasnat Khan
Paul Burrell

Mr Burrell said Diana told him that she had been more in love with Mr Khan than "any other man".

The "extremely serious relationship" had lasted for two years, he said, and Dr Khan had been a regular visitor to Kensington Palace until the couple parted in July 1997.

When asked by Ian Burnett QC, representing the inquest, whether she "contemplated" marriage with Mr Khan, the former butler replied: "Yes, she did.

"She asked me if it was possible to arrange a private marriage between her and Hasnat Khan."

However, it is not known whether Mr Khan was aware of these discussions.

Mr Burrell also said he had not been given the impression that her boyfriend, Dodi Al Fayed, was "the one".

The next gift you are going to receive will be a ring and it could be misconstrued as an engagement ring
Paul Burrell to Diana

He described Diana's relationship with Mr Al Fayed as "a very new friendship which developed into something more".

He told the High Court in London that he did not believe the couple's romance had begun during a holiday on Mr Al Fayed's yacht at the end of July 1997.

Instead he thought it was only after their return that the pair became romantically linked.

Diana had taken a holiday on Mohamed Al Fayed's yacht, the Jonikal, with her sons, Princes William and Harry.

When asked by Mr Burnett about the early nature of the relationship, Mr Burnell replied: "It was very fresh, new and exciting."

Mr Burnett also asked: "By that stage had you any sense from the Princess that... to use a hackneyed phrase that has appeared in so many media reports, Dodi was 'the one'?"

Mr Burrell replied: "No, I didn't have that impression.

Showered with gifts

"I certainly don't think the romance started on the first holiday. I think that would have been inappropriate with William and Harry being in attendance."

Mr Burrell also said a ring bought by Mr Fayed for the princess was "not an engagement ring, it was a friendship band".

He said that to make sure no-one, including Mr Al Fayed, would be misled into thinking it was anything else, Diana wore it on the fourth finger of her right hand instead of on her left.

Mr Burrell said this was his idea, made to the excited princess as she was being showered with gifts of "very expensive" Bulgari jewellery by her new beau that included a necklace, earrings, a bracelet and a watch.

Mr Burrell said he told Diana: "You know what is coming next. The next gift you are going to receive will be a ring and it could be misconstrued as an engagement ring.

'On the rebound'

"She said 'If he gave me a ring, what should I do with it?' and I said 'Put it on the fourth finger of your right hand and immediately he will see that it is a friendship ring, not an engagement ring' and that's when she said 'I need marriage like a rash'."

Mr Burrell said the couple were definitely not engaged and rubbished rumours that they planned to wed.

"This was only a 30-day relationship. The princess had just finished a long-term relationship with someone she had cared deeply about. I know that because I was there and saw it.

"And on the rebound from that relationship, (she) had met someone who was very kind, generous and spoiling. The princess enjoyed it."

He said that if Diana had got engaged she would have told close friend Lucia Flecha de Lima or "someone she trusted as much as me".

Unrivalled knowledge

Coroner Lord Justice Scott Baker has previously said the jury may think Mr Burrell had unrivalled knowledge of intimate aspects of Diana's life as he "plainly had a close professional relationship with Diana."

Diana died along with her lover Dodi Al Fayed and their driver Henri Paul in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

Mr Burrell is likely to be questioned about a note from the princess to him in which she said that her husband Prince Charles was "planning an accident in my car".

He may also be asked about a conversation he had with the Queen in which he claims she warned him: "There are powers at work in this country about which we have no knowledge."

In 2002 Mr Burrell, who worked for the Royal Family for more than 20 years, was cleared of stealing Diana's possessions after an Old Bailey trial collapsed.

Liverpool reveal Klinsmann talks

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez (left) and Jurgen Klinsmann
Benitez (left) will be disappointed by Hicks' revelations
Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks says he held talks with Jurgen Klinsmann in November about taking over as manager in case Rafael Benitez left the club.

Mixed performances and a row with Hicks and co-owner George Gillett on transfer policy put Benitez's position in doubt.

"We attempted to negotiate an option as an insurance policy... if Rafa left for Real Madrid or other clubs rumoured, " Hicks told the Liverpool Echo.

He added: "Or in case our communication spiralled out of control."

Hicks was alluding to the criticism of Hicks and Gillett by Benitez over their transfer policy which angered the American duo and put the Spaniard's position in jeopardy.

Klinsmann's services have now been secured by Bayern Munich and he will take over the German club at the end of this season.

The confirmation of talks between Klinsmann and his bosses will come as a blow to Benitez, although Hicks said the negotiations took place in November when the club were in danger of going out of the Champions League at the group stages and suffering indifferent league form.

Liverpool needed a 4-1 win over Marseille in their final group game on 11 December to book their place in the knockout stages.

The American owners and Benitez had clear-the-air talks after the Premier League loss to Manchester United on 16 December and Hicks now insists the Reds manager has their full support.

"After George and I had our long and productive meeting with Rafa following the Manchester United match, we put all of our issues behind us and received Rafa's commitment that he wanted to stay with Liverpool," said Hicks.

"We never reached agreement on an option with Jurgen, and we are both pleased for him that he has a great opportunity to return to Germany and coach a great club team.

"Rafa has both of our support, and our communication has greatly improved."

But Liverpool's form has not improved and they are currently 12 points off the top of the Premier League table,.

They were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Chelsea and have been taken to a replay by struggling Luton in the FA Cup third round.

EU rethinks biofuels guidelines

A labourer at a palm plantation in Indonesia - file photo
Palm plantations are replacing the original forest in some areas
Europe's environment chief has admitted that the EU did not foresee the problems raised by its policy to get 10% of Europe's road fuels from plants.

Recent reports have warned of rising food prices and rainforest destruction from increased biofuel production.

The EU has promised new guidelines to ensure that its target is not damaging.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said it would be better to miss the target than achieve it by harming the poor or damaging the environment.

Clampdown promised

A couple of years ago biofuels looked like the perfect get-out-of-jail free card for car manufacturers under pressure to cut carbon emissions.

Instead of just revolutionising car design they could reduce transport pollution overall if drivers used more fuel from plants which would have soaked up CO2 while they were growing.

Corn being harvested in Germany - file photo
Fuel made from plants like corn are driving up food prices
The EU leapt at the idea - and set its biofuels targets.

Since then reports have warned that some biofuels barely cut emissions at all - and others can lead to rainforest destruction, drive up food prices, or prompt rich firms to drive poor people off their land to convert it to fuel crops.

"We have seen that the environmental problems caused by biofuels and also the social problems are bigger than we thought they were. So we have to move very carefully," Mr Dimas told.

"We have to have criteria for sustainability, including social and environmental issues, because there are some benefits from biofuels."

He said the EU would introduce a certification scheme for biofuels and promised a clampdown on biodiesel from palm oil which is leading to forest destruction in Indonesia.

Some analysts doubt that "sustainable" palm oil exists because any palm oil used for fuel simply swells the demand for the product oil on the global market which is mainly governed by food firms.

US expansion

Mr Dimas said it was vital for the EU's rules to prevent the loss of biodiversity which he described as the other great problem for the planet, along with climate change.

On Monday, the Royal Society, the UK's academy of science, is publishing a major review of biofuels. It is expected to call on the EU to make sure its guidelines guarantee that all biofuels in Europe genuinely save carbon emissions.

In the US the government has just passed a new energy bill mandating a major increase in fuel from corn, which is deemed by some analysts to be useless in combating rising carbon dioxide emissions.

The bill also foresees a huge expansion in fuel from woody plants but the technology for this is not yet proven.

Mid-East talks on 'core issues'

Tzipi Livni, Ahmed Qurei, Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert (27 December 2007)
There have been a series of meetings since the Annapolis talks
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have begun talks in Jerusalem on what are seen as the most intractable issues in the peace process.

These include the status of Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, refugees, security and water resources.

The talks are being led by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

Three Palestinian militants died in an Israeli strike in Gaza on Sunday.

The vehicle in which the men were travelling through the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City was struck by an Israeli Air Force missile.

If we reach an agreement on all these issues, then we can say that we have reached a final agreement
Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian Authority President

The raid had targeted militants involved in attacks on Israel, the Israeli military said.

One of the men has been named as Nidal Amudi, who was a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a militant group linked to the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Another was identified as Mahir Mabhuh, who belonged to another group, while the identity of the third militant was unknown.

'Final agreement'

During a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, Mr Abbas said the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams would begin discussion of the core "final stage issues" in the peace process at their meeting on Monday.

"If we reach an agreement on all these issues, then we can say that we have reached a final agreement," he said, adding that any peace treaty would have to resolve the disputes over all issues.

Palestinians wheel the body of a militant into hospital following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
The talks come in the wake of an Israeli air strike in Gaza

Mr Abbas added that both sides would at the same time have to implement the first phase of the "road map" formulated by the Middle East Quartet in 2003, which suggests how a final settlement might be approached, and resolve economic and security issues in the West Bank.

The first phase of the road map requires:

  • Both sides to issue statements supporting the two-state solution
  • The Palestinians to end violence, act against "all those engaged in terror", draw up a constitution and hold elections
  • The Israelis to stop settlement building activities and act with military restraint

A spokesman for the Israeli government, Mark Regev, also confirmed the negotiating teams would meet on Monday, and that they had received a mandate to discuss the core issues.

Hamas offer

Prospects for a comprehensive settlement were given fresh impetus by the US peace conference at Annapolis, Maryland, in November, after which Mr Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to restart talks after seven years.

Jerusalem holy sites

US President George W Bush, who visited Israel and the West Bank last week, has said Israel and the Palestinians could sign a peace treaty within a year.

"I believe it's going to happen, that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office," he told reporters in Ramallah on Thursday.

In his speech, Mr Abbas said he had warned the president that the Palestinians could not move ahead in the negotiations while Jewish settlements continued to be built in the West Bank.

"We can't have negotiations while they are building houses all over," he added.

The Palestinian leader also said he was willing to restart talks with the Islamist movement, Hamas, if it relinquished control of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas ousted Mr Abbas's Fatah movement from the coastal territory in June following a week of violent clashes.

"I am ready to negotiate with Hamas even if the United States does not accept it," he said. "Such a dialogue is very important."

A Hamas statement denounced Mr Abbas's speech as "full of lies and fabrications".

Russia summons UK envoy over row

British Council's St Petersburg branch on Monday 14 January 2008
Two British Council offices defied a Russian closure order by re-opening
The Russian foreign ministry has summoned the UK ambassador amid an escalating row over the reopening of two British Council offices.

The Council's branches reopened on Monday despite a government ban.

Russia called the move a "provocation" and said it would not issue new visas to British Council staff.

The offices were ordered to shut last month in the latest clash over the fatal poisoning of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko in London.

The branches which reopened are in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. The ban does not apply to the British Council's Moscow office.

'Inflaming tensions'

A statement on the Russian foreign ministry's website said: "Russia views such actions as an intentional provocation aimed at inflaming tensions in Russian-British relations.

Nov 2006: Alexander Litvinenko dies in London
May 2007: UK accuses ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi of murder
July: Russia refuses UK request to extradite Mr Lugovoi
July: UK expels four Russian diplomats
July: Russia expels four British embassy staff
December: Russia tells British Council to shut two offices
Jan 2008: British Council re-opens both offices

"The Russian side will not issue visas to new employees sent to work in the (British) consular offices of St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg to carry out British Council work."

The UK embassy in the Russian capital declined to comment on the schedule of the ambassador, Sir Tony Brenton.

But BBC Moscow correspondent Richard Galpin says the envoy will appear at the Russian foreign ministry on Monday afternoon.

He says the escalating diplomatic crisis between the two countries is now coming to a head and it is not clear if either side is willing to back down.

The British Council, which aims to promote cultural and educational ties, was accused of violating Russian tax rules.

A spokesman for the Council insisted on Monday that its activities were "fully compliant with Russian and international law".

"We believe we're caught up in a political matter," the spokesman told the BBC News website.

'Valuable work'

The British Council's chief executive, Martin Davidson, said they would continue talking to the Russians in the hope of continuing their work.

He told the BBC: "We have to understand the issues, the problems they have with our work, but we believe [our work] is enormously valuable.

British Council in Moscow
Russia has linked its action to wider British-Russian tensions

"We know ordinary Russian people believe it is of real value to them, as well of course to us here in the UK, to have that relationship with Russia."

The offices in Yekaterinburg are on the premises of the UK consulate-general.

The row came on top of continuing tensions over the death of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006. He had been given a fatal dose of radioactive polonium 210.

The UK wants Russia to hand over businessman Andrei Lugovoi, whom UK investigators suspect of murdering Mr Litvinenko.

When Russia refused to extradite Mr Lugovoi, Britain expelled four Russian diplomats and Moscow followed suit.

Russian officials have described the action against the British Council as a retaliatory measure.