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Bombay bhel

Belling the copy cats

Film producers are mad with singers of cover versions. There's no law against cover versions though. Anyone can take hit tunes and make their own versions two years after the release of a album. Cover versions are big business -- ask playback singers like Anuradha Paudwal who regularly rerecord hits of yesteryear. The film producers' gripe is that the labels get rich when they produce cover versions of recent films, while they get nothing. They say music rights would fetch more for them if this practice is stopped. And since the law isn't obliging, they're putting pressure directly on the singers. The Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers (AMPTPP), which met recently, wants a ban on singers who sing cover versions. And what does that mean? Simply that producers won't call them to sing any original songs.

Criticising the critic

Khalid Mohamed's prose is punny. The Filmfare editor, who has written film reviews for decades, has a trademark: smart-alecky humour. He titled his review of Amitabh Bachchan's Major Saab -- you guessed it? -- 'major sob!' And it's now his turn to take the brickbats. Subhash Ghai, maker of spectacles like Taal, pulped Khalid Mohamed's directorial debut, Fiza. He told a newspaper that it had "sketchy characterisation, incoherent script and screechy background music". If you didn't already know, Ghai takes pride in his taste for music...

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, produced by Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, ran into a deadend 'Who's hit' parade

Trade winds in the first six months of 2000 have been adverse for the Mumbai film industry, where even in a good year a majority of producers routinely bite the dust. Kaho Na ... Pyaar Hai, the candyfloss romance that Hrithik Roshan made his debut with, was the big grosser, while more ambitious films like films like Phir Bhi Dil Hain Hindustani and Hey Ram met with a cold reception. The trade papers say only 12 of the 89 releases so far have recovered their money. Musically too, the tepid score of Kaho Na... made far more money than the classier scores of Hey Ram and Pukar.

Koi nahi bana crorepati

Kaun Banega Crorepati, Amitabh Bachchan's magnificently successful quiz show, is the talk of middle class homes across the country. Star TV's battle for eyeballs prompted it to launch this saga with Indian cinema's biggest star. The show offers a crore to anyone who can answer 15 quiz questions right. But the company that bears the star's name, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd, is tottering. It was declared sick in July 1999, but a company director (who is also a leader of the Samajwadi Party) said in mid-2000 that it had cleared all dues except what it owed Doordarshan. One thing everyone seems to have forgotten -- ABCL had launched a talent hunt for singers, and thousands of aspiring Latas and Kishores had sent recordings of their songs with a fee of Rs 250 each. A career in playback singing and a fortune were promised. We've heard nothing about the contest since. All those dreams of the contestants, along with their eagerly recorded tapes, must have been trashed unceremoniously by some smartly dressed, splendidly paid executive somewhere.

Soda Glass

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