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'Baby', 'Aviatior' share Oscars

LOS ANGELES, Feb 28: The boxing saga "Million Dollar Baby" was the Academy Awards heavyweight Sunday, claiming best picture and three other trophies, including honors for director Clint Eastwood, lead actress Hilary Swank and supporting actor Morgan Freeman. The night meant more heartbreak for Martin Scorsese. "The Aviator" came away with the most Oscars - five, including the supporting-actress prize for Cate Blanchett - but Scorsese lost the directing race for the fifth time.

Eastwood, who at 74 became the oldest directing winner ever, noted his mother was with him when his Western "Unforgiven" won the 1992 best-picture and directing Oscar. "She's here with me again tonight, so at 96, I'm thanking her for her genes," Eastwood said. "I figure I'm just a kid. I've got a lot of stuff to do yet."

Scorsese matched the record of Oscar futility held by a handful of legendary filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Altman, who also went 0-for-5 in the directing category. Swank became a double Academy Award winner Sunday for "Million Dollar Baby," while Jamie Foxx took lead actor for "Ray." The wins for Freeman and Foxx made it only the second time blacks won two of the four acting prizes.

Swank, who previously won the best-actress Oscar for "Boys Don't Cry," once again beat out main rival Annette Bening, nominated for the theater farce "Being Julia." Bening had been the front-runner for "American Beauty" five years ago but lost to underdog Swank. "I don't know what I did in this life to deserve all this. I'm just a girl from a trailer park who had a dream," said Swank, who played an indomitable boxer.

Swank joined Vivien Leigh, Helen Hayes, Sally Field (news) and Luise Rainer as the only actresses with a perfect track record at the Oscars: Two nominations and two wins. Foxx won for his uncanny emulation of Ray Charles in "Ray." As he had at earlier awards triumphs, Foxx led the Oscar audience in a rendition of the call-and-response chant from Charles' 1959 hit "What'd I Say," whose funky electric-piano grooves play over the opening credits of "Ray."

"Give it up for Ray Charles and his beautiful legacy. And thank you Ray Charles for living," said Foxx, who climbed to Oscar glory after an early career built mainly on comedy, including his TV series "The Jamie Foxx Show" and the raunchy sex flick "Booty Call." Foxx had been a double Oscar nominee, also picked in the supporting category for the hit man thriller "Collateral."

Playing Katharine Hepburn in "The Aviator," Blanchett had the spirit of the Oscars' most-honored actress on her side. Hepburn, the love of Hughes' life in the 1930s before she began her long romance with Spencer Tracy, earned 12 nominations and won a record four Oscars. "Thank you, of course, to Miss Hepburn. The longevity of her career I think is inspiring to everyone," said Blanchett. She added thanks to "Aviator" director Scorsese, saying, "I hope my son will marry your daughter."

Oscar host Chris Rock said Blanchett was so convincing that Sidney Poitier, Hepburn's co-star in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," showed up at Blanchett's house for supper. The wins by Freeman and Foxx followed Denzel Washington and Halle Berry (news)'s triumph three years ago for "Training Day" and "Monster's Ball," the only other time blacks claimed two acting Oscars. "It means that Hollywood is continuing to make history," Freeman said backstage. "We're evolving with the rest of the world."

The superhero action comedy "The Incredibles" won the animated-feature prize, beating 2004's biggest box-office hit, the fairy-tale sequel "Shrek 2." It was the second-straight animated Oscar for Pixar Animation, which won a year ago for "Finding Nemo." "I don't know what's more frightening, being watched by millions of people, or the hundreds of people that are going to be annoyed with me tomorrow for not mentioning them," said Brad Bird, writer-director of the "The Incredibles."

The latest win dabs salt on the Walt Disney Co.'s wounds over the looming expiration of its distribution deal for Pixar films, which ends after next year's "Cars." The back-to-back Oscars underscore Pixar's growing ascendance and the weakening position of animation pioneer Disney, which has yet to win the animated-feature Oscar with any of its homegrown films and whose biggest recent cartoon hits have all been made by Pixar.

Unlike last year, when "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" dominated the awards as expected and flat-out front-runners took all four acting prizes, the 77th Oscars shaped up as a mixed bag, with only Foxx a virtual lock to win.

"Boy, am I glad there wasn't a fourth episode of `Lord of the Rings,'" said John Dykstra, who shared the visual-effects Oscar for "Spider-Man 2."
With no huge hits among top nominees, Oscar organizers worried that TV ratings could dwindle for the live ABC broadcast. The Oscars tend to draw their biggest audiences when blockbusters such as "Titanic" or "Return of the King" are in the mix, stoking viewer interest.

Producers of the show hoped the presence of first-time host Rock might boost ratings, particularly among younger viewers who may view the Oscars as too staid an affair. Rock had mocked the Oscars a bit beforehand, calling awards shows "idiotic," but he was on his best behavior in his opening monologue.

Rock chided some celebrities by name and included one mild three-letter word, but his routine was fairly clean for the comedian known for a foul mouth in his standup act.

"The only acting you ever see at the Oscars is when people act like they're not mad they lost," Rock said. He recalled the year when Halle Berry won and fellow nominee "Nicole Kidman was smiling so wide, she should have won an Emmy at the Oscars for her great performance. I was like, if you'd done that in the movie, you'd have won an Oscar, girl."

Organizers also tried to spice up the show with new presentation tactics, including herding all nominees on stage at the same time, beauty-pageant style, for some awards. The first prize of the night, for art direction, was awarded that way, with a total of nine nominees from five films spread across stage behind presenter Berry. The Oscar went to "The Aviator," whose awards also included cinematography, film editing and costume design.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" took the original-screenplay award for Charlie Kaufman. "Sideways" won the adapted-screenplay prize for director Alexander Payne and his writing partner, Jim Taylor.

"My mother taught me to write, and she died before she could see any of this, so this is for you, mom," Taylor said. "The Sea Inside," the Spanish film based on the true story of a bedridden euthanasia lobbyist, won as best foreign-language film, while "Born Into Brothels," which examines the lives of children of prostitutes in Calcutta, India, received the Oscar for feature-length documentary.

'Born into Brothels' bags Oscar

LOS ANGELES, Feb 28: Born into Brothels, the documentary that tracks the life and experience of prostitutes in a red light area of Kolkata in India, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature on Monday. Accepting the award Zana Briski, who produced and directed the documentary with Ross Kauffman said, "We thank the kids. They are watching in Kolkata."

It is the story of two documentary filmmakers who chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district. Since 1998, Briski, a British photographer, has been trekking back and forth to Calcutta, originally moving into a brothel to document the lives of India's sex workers.

While documenting the experiences of prostitutes in Sonagachi, she befriended many of their children and decided to give them cameras to take photos of the world they lived in. In Sonagachi, she became entranced with the children, who followed her everywhere, asking endless questions.

She bought 10 basic cameras and taught the most curious ones how to shoot pictures, and then sent them out to capture their worlds. The documentary was pitted against The Story of the Weeping Camel, Super Size Me, Tupac: Resurrection and Twist of faith.

Rani reigns, Shah rules at 50th Filmfare Awards

MUMBAI, Feb 27: Nostalgia walked hand-in-hand with contemporaneity as India's oldest and most coveted cinema awards celebrated their 50th year in a glittering ceremony at the MMRDA grounds here on Saturday. The four main awards of the night were swept up by Shah Rukh Khan (Best Actor for Swades ), Rani Mukerji (Best Actress for Hum Tum ), Kunal Kohli (Best Director for Hum Tum ) and Yash Chopra (Best Film for Veer-Zaara ). First-time winner Kohli declared his love for his wife, who blew kisses at him from the audience.

Golden was the hue of the evening - a specially crafted gold trophy, retro performances by top stars and anchoring peppered with anecdotes and trivia from a misty past.

Bollywood's best and brightest - Dev Anand, Sharmila Tagore, Shammi Kapoor, Rekha, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Shatrugan Sinha, Karan Johar, Farhan Akhtar, Kajol, Mahima Chowdhury, Manisha Koirala, Kareena Kapoor - were all part of the audience thronging the venue, as were political heavyweights like Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Rekha, who presented the Best Actor award to Shah Rukh, quoted an arcane couplet on love, adding that the commonality between her and the Filmfare awards was that they had both entered their fifth decade. The show was emceed by the irrepressible Saif Ali Khan with Sonali Bendre and Farida Jalal.

The most unique act of the evening was Shah Rukh Khan's delineation of romance down the ages - shaking a leg to popular tunes from the '60s on, he was accompanied by the original leading ladies themselves - from a bespectacled Vyjanthimala to the gorgeous Sharmila Tagore and the sultry Zeenat Aman, Jaya Prada and Rekha, down to Kajol, Rani and Preity Zinta. As each actress was serenaded by Shah Rukh, the audience went wild
In keeping with the sepia hue, Lata Mangeshkar, Dilip Kumar and veteran composer Naushad, the first winners of the Filmfare awards in their respective categories, were felicitated by Amitabh Bachchan and Chief Minister Deshmukh.

Farhan Akhtar and Ashutosh Gowariker gave away another special award - to Ramesh Sippy whose Sholay was adjudged the best film of the past 50 years. There was a lot of good-natured banter between Akhtar, Gowariker and presenter Karan Johar about who, among them, was Sippy's greatest fan.

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to an actor who was discovered 40 years ago in a Filmfare-United Producers contest. Rajesh Khanna went on to become a rage after his first hit Aradhana - girls sent him letters written in blood, the word 'superstar' was coined for him by the media, and Khannamania generally prevailed until the superstar was unseated by the next claimant to the crown, Amitabh Bachchan. Khanna, dressed in flowing white kurta-pyjama accepted the award with customary 'shairana andaz', quoting a couplet.

Hilton (s)explicit on lesbian pic

LOS ANGELES, Feb 27: Hotel heiress Paris Hilton has been forced to explain her steamy kiss with another female, after a photograph of their clinch was published on the Internet. According to the Internet Media Database , the blonde beauty was seen topless and kissing stunning MTV Latin American VJ Eglantina Zingg in the picture - but the 24-year-old claims it was just a bit of fun.

"We were joking around at a photo shoot for a magazine. It wasn't sexual. But it's scary that someone out there can get into your private device," Hilton was quoted as saying. Hilton was referring to the hacking of her mobile phone that led to its contents, including the same-sex kiss photograph, to get on to the Internet.

Priests need sex too: Seema Rahmani

NEW DELHI, Feb 22: Just days after a sleaze scandal involving a priest from the Swaminarayan sect rocked India, another explosive combination of sex and religion could set the silver screen on fire this Friday. Seema Rahmani, the star of producer-director Vinod Pande's controversial film about a Catholic priest who slips and commits a crime of passion with a young girl, supports the decision to release Sins despite a ban called by Catholic groups and a refusal by satellite channels to screen promos. There is no intention to hurt the sentiments of any one community, she insists.

"The story is based on a true sex scandal that happened in Kerala in 1988. Sins makes an honest attempt to portray the conflict between religious restrictions that bind a priest and his own emotions. After all, a man of the cloth is a human being too and has certain wants and needs. Sex is one of them," she says.

Rahmani denies that the cross hanging provocatively from her neck in several steamy stills from the film, is a deliberate attempt to raise the heckles among Catholics. "The use of the cross in Sins is meant to highlight the vow of celibacy that every Catholic priest must obey throughout his life," she claims.

The actress, who was last seen in Hum Kaun Hai?, is undeterred by the poor box office response for Bollywood skin flicks like Kis Kis Ki Kismat and more recently Sheesha. According to her: "Sins is an art film. Moreover it's in English. We wanted to cater to the classes, not the masses. People in the Hindi-speaking belt may not be able to understand the message we are trying to get across."

Rahmani admits the strong sexual content and nudity in Sins made her role very challenging. "How can you avoid steamy shots in a film that involves love affair with a priest?" she says.

Her co-star Shiny Ahuja, who won accolades for his performance in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, agrees: "Yes, there are some intimate scenes in the film, but it was what the script required. I am sure the sizzling promos will attract people. Actually the real challenge starts once you have brought the audience to the cinema hall. You have to make them realise that it's a good film. And I think we will succeed in doing that with Sins."

"In the film I play a character double my age. In the first half he is what every priest should be - a good man and true servant of the Church. But in the second half you see him fall in love and struggle between his body and his faith. By the end, the conflict is driving him insane. It wasn't easy to portray all these emotions," adds Ahuja.

Meanwhile Pande is determined not to buckle under pressure. "I don't want to offend anybody's religious sentiments. My only suggestion to those who are opposing the release of Sins is to first see the film. To be honest, I was surprised when all TV channels except one, rejected the promos despite a clearance from the Censor Board. Now I have got different promos made," he says.

Nudists dine in New York style

NEW YORK, Feb 18: The diners arrived at a nice Manhattan restaurant on a cold February night and stripped off coats, hats, gloves and scarves. They didn't stop there. Skirts, shirts, pants, underwear and stockings all ended up stashed in plastic bags by the bar as the patrons got naked for the monthly "Clothing Optional Dinner." "It's exciting to be in a restaurant nude," said George Keyes, 65, a retired junior high school English teacher. Keyes, a lifelong nudist, wore a necklace, earrings and a black leather "genital bracelet" with red studs. And white sneakers.

The dinner was started by a group of New York nudists who wanted something a bit more elegant than the wilderness getaways and beach resorts they generally frequent. "When you go away on holiday it's more you're roughing it in the woods, whereas this is a really nice restaurant," said Keyes, a member of gay nudist group Males Au Naturel, or MAN.

John Ordover set up the dining club about a year ago, recruiting members through word of mouth and the Internet. "Next month is our Easter bonnet event, where everybody has to come wearing an Easter bonnet," said Ordover, a heavyset man with a jovial smile and glasses.

Around 30 people arrived for the buffet dinner -- organizers specified no hot soup on the menu -- most of them middle-aged, several married couples, some singles, the youngest perhaps in their 30s. "They're a good class of people, they're no different to you or I," said John Bussi, owner of the midtown restaurant. "They're not hurting anybody, it's not a wild Roman orgy."

Health regulations mean staff must remain clothed even if they wanted to join in. And diners must bring something to sit on -- a towel or, for discerning women, an elegant silk scarf. The restaurant's manager covered the windows to maintain privacy at the strictly private party. Extra heaters kept the temperature at a comfortable level for nudity. Ordover's wife, Carol, said they first went on a naturist holiday five years ago and she found the experience empowering. But, she explained, it's "the least sexual thing you can possibly imagine."

"Men in nudist resorts are striking a bargain. They get to see as many naked women as they like as long as they are polite and look them straight in the eye," she said. Sherry Stafford, a petite and elegant 51-year-old with blond hair and high heels, brought brochures and videos advertising her travel business, Internaturally Travel.

One of the flyers was for a resort called "Hedonism II" whose slogan is "Be wicked for a week." But she said nudists should not be confused with swingers. "Wearing clothes and going to church does not protect you from moral evil," Stafford said, lamenting what she saw as a tendency to demonize people just because they like to be naked.

Sandy, a slim woman in her 40s, said she never felt self-conscious about her body and was comfortable dining in the nude. But she did admit to being a bit more nervous before a recent naked yoga class attended by around 25 people. "Everyone was a little concerned there would be people looking around but the good thing is nobody really was," she said, standing at the restaurant's bar before dinner. "If you try to maintain a yoga position you're going to fall if you start looking around -- and that's more embarrassing than anything else."

I was treated like a dog: Nigar

NEW DELHI, Feb 13: Nigar Khan is angry and wants the world to know it. Deported to Norway on February 7 because of alleged visa violations, the item bomb claims she was physically assaulted by officials of the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office). In an interview on phone from Norway, Nigar says she didn't deserve the kind of treatment meted out to her. "Nobody treats you the way FRRO did. I was dragged by my hair at the airport. I was hit on the head and finally put in a wheelchair and led to the aircraft. I was shivering with shock when all this was happening to me. I still have bruises and marks on my hands and they are turning an ugly blue. The officers who bundled me off to airport were very strong and had an iron grip," she fumes.

The Chadhti Jawani girl questions the manner in which the deportation order was executed. "Is this the way to treat a human being? Was I caught holding a gun in my hand, am I a thief or a terrorist or have I committed a capital crime? Even a dog is not treated the way I was. Deven Bharti of the FRRO would not let me talk to anybody. Within one hour I was put on a plane with no luggage whatsoever. I was not allowed to go home, to pack or call my husband and friends. They took away my mobile phone and dragged me to the aircraft," she laments.

While Bharti was not available for comments, Nigar fires a volley of charges at the FRRO official: "Bharti wanted me to sign some documents which I refused. I told them they could put me in jail if I had done something wrong but I wouldn't sign any papers. It was then that a burly woman appeared on the scene and said she needed just 20 minutes alone with me in a room and she would make me sign all the papers that the FRRO wanted. But I stuck to my guns despite the threats."

The bum-squeezing angel from the raunchy remix video insists there's nothing wrong with travel documents: "My papers are very much in order. I don't know why the FRRO in India has treated me in such a shocking manner. Bharti took a copy of my marriage certificate when I had gone to deposit it in January 2005. I wanted everything to be legal and that's why when I received the deportation notice on January 6, 2005, I flew to Norway three days later to get myself a work permit. However my application was refused apparently because someone from the FRRO had asked the Indian embassy in Oslo to do so. I was made to go back and forth between the Indian mission in Norway and the FRRO in India but there was no real progress on the visa issue", she says.

According to the Iran-born model, she has no idea who is behind her deportation. As far as she's concerned, the buck stops with the FRRO. "I don't know who is behind all this. But when I pointed out that my papers were in order and that I had got a letter from my producers to allow me to work in India, Bharti denies receiving any such documents from me. That man knows I have been working in India for more than two years now and that I had applied for an employment visa. Despite that, he said I would have to go to the Indian embassy in Norway. They in turn sent me right back to the FRRO and this is how I have been given the great run-around. This is just harassment," says Nigar.

Husband Saahil Khan backs up her story: "She had gone with her documents to the registration office. But they turned her away and asked her to go to the Indian embassy in Oslo instead. They confiscated her phone so that she could not talk to family, friends or media. Where does one hear of this kind of treatment? If there is some paperwork to be done, one is given time to complete the process and not thrown aboard the first flight out of the country. No one is deported within an hour of the order being served and whisked off without a chance to talk to their family or gather their luggage. Such was the haste that her luggage went on a different flight and she travelled on another. In fact I don't even know which flight they sent her on. They didn't ask us to buy her flight ticket; they just went ahead and bought it themselves."

Like Nigar, he too blasts the FRRO. "I demand to know what they were doing while Nigar was working in India for the last three years or so. Deven Bharti even denies receiving a copy of the marriage certificate that my wife gave to him. If she was an illegal with no valid papers, how come it took them three years to realise their mistake? What were they doing all this time? After all she's not exactly an unknown person. She's a celebrity and a film star at that," he says.

According to Saahil, Nigar had tried getting a different visa after marriage: "When she got the notice on January 6, she had applied for registration of the marriage certificate on January 7. To put things in order she also went to Norway on January 9 but was refused visa. She then hired a lawyer who advised her to apply for residency as she was married. We had not disclosed our marriage in public because we wanted it to remain a private affair. Everybody knows how the film industry works. However there's no denying the fact that Nigar is my legally wedded wife.

"As her husband I will do everything possible to get her back. I won't be going to Norway, as I have to do all the necessary paperwork here. On Monday I will be applying for a resident visa for her, as we are now a married couple. I plan to approach the human rights commission to protest against the inhuman way in which Nigar was treated during her deportation."

Saahil also denies reports in certain sections of the media that he holds a British passport. "I'm a bonafide citizen of this country as I was born and brought up in India. There's absolutely no truth in the rumour," he says.

Nigar is confident that her husband will beat the odds. "Saahil is in the process of applying for a visa. He will file all necessary documents before a competent court," she says.

Her harrowing experience certainly hasn't lessened Nigar's love for India. "I love the country and am proud of it. I married an Indian man and have been living in Juhu all this while. My husband will come to get me from Norway. Our lives are in India. Why should I leave the country where my work and my life is? I will definitely come back. All my producers and directors have been very supportive and are doing their best to get bail me out of this situation," she insists.

She also discounts the possibility that authorities could seize her assets in India. Her bank account with HSBC is reportedly under scrutiny. Since she's charged with violating her visa terms, any money she had earned during her stay may have been illegal. "They can seize me account and my other possessions, but can't seize my heart and mind. My greatest loss is that I am hurt," says Nigar.

The bombshell certainly intends getting her own country behind her on the deportation issue. "One officer sitting in the FRRO has ruined India's reputation. The way they threw me out after beating me up is what hurts most. How can one person be allowed to do what he wants? How can he be allowed to question the validity of papers issued by his own government? He insulted his own government by doing so.

"There is complete outrage in Norway and all over Europe about this incident. Bharti has destroyed India's fair name in Europe. All the newspapers and TV channels here are questioning the way I was deported. In fact I will be on Oslo's TV2 tonight at 10:30 pm local time where the entire episode will be discussed. However I must add that the Indian media and my producers and directors have all stood by me in this crisis and I am thankful for that. I will soon be back where my husband is," she claims.

Female soldiers bare busts in prison mud-fest!

London, Feb 7: American female soldiers are in the midst of a controversy again, as photographs taken by colleagues show them exposing their bare breasts at a party in an Iraqi prison. According to The Sun, some of the 30 pictures reveal male soldiers cheering on two women in bras and panties in a mud-filled paddling pool. In others photographs, military police women bared their breasts and flashed thongs for male soldiers with cameras.

Investigators probing a breakdown of discipline at the US Army's Camp Bucca jail were informed that sergeants also lent their rooms to soldiers for sex. Ironically, the soldiers had been assigned to guard Iraqi inmates being transferred there from scandal-hit Abu Ghraib jail.

The party was organised last year in October by sergeants of the 160th Military Police battalion reserve unit to celebrate the end of their tour of duty. "It let people blow off steam before coming home after a year in a combat zone," the report quoted sergeant Amil Ganim, who is seen in some pictures refereeing the mud-wrestling soldiers, as saying.

Another participant told investigators that two sergeants had let Army friends use their rooms for sex, which is a serious breach of military rules. A female witness revealed that the two sergeants had been drinking and were noticeably drunk.

US Army spokesman Lt Col Barry Johnson said he was not sure if excessive alcohol consumption had led to the mud-wrestling party, but added, "Alcohol is banned."

Making a clean breast of things

For all those who just cannot stop speculating how many times Pamela Anderson has gone under the knife, the actress sets the records straight. "I had surgery only three times. First I went in for an enhancement, then I had them removed. But I got them put back in again," she says. But that does not mean she recommends surgery.

"Women's bodies are beautiful. I've had a love/hate relationship with my breasts and when I look back, I could beat myself up about it. But I don't, as I created a career out of it."

'The Aviator' earns 11 Oscar nominations

BEVERLY HILLS (California), Jan 26: The Howard Hughes epic 'The Aviator' led Academy Awards contenders with 11 nominations, including best picture, plus acting honours for Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett and Alan Alda and a directing slot for Martin Scorsese. The boxing saga 'Million Dollar Baby' and the J M Barrie tale 'Finding Neverland' followed with seven nominations each, among them best picture and acting nominations for Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank and Johnny Depp.

Eastwood also got a directing nomination for 'Million Dollar Baby.' The other best-picture nominees were the Ray Charles portrait 'Ray' and the buddy comedy 'Sideways.' Along with Eastwood, Jamie Foxx also scored two nominations, as best actor for the title role in 'Ray' and supporting actor as a taxi driver whose cab is hijacked by a hit man in 'Collateral'. Foxx's dead-on emulation of Charles has made him the front-runner in the lead-actor category.

Asha Leo faces bum rap in UP

It's bottoms up for Asha Leo in Uttar Pradesh. Shiv Sena has taken strong exception to the model showing her naked back in this year's Kingfisher Calendar and wants the pictures treated as porn. The wide media coverage for the glamour calendar brought out by India's leading beer manufacturer has clearly got the Sena's goat. The rightwing organisation, often in the news as a self-appointed guardian of morality, decided to take matters into its own hands after photographs shot by well-known lensman Atul Kasbekar were shown on a fashion channel and also appeared in print.

Launched in 2003 by United Breweries, the Kingfisher Swimsuit Calendar is not available for sale and is presented every year to a select group of people only. Besides London-based Asha, this year's edition features leading Indian models Yana Gupta, Pia Trivedi and Sheetal Menon. Giving them company is Cindy Burbridge from Thailand.

Shot on location in South Africa, the girls are shown wearing swimsuits by a number of upcoming designers like Surily Goel, Namrata Joshipura, Kiran Uttam Ghosh and Ranna Gill. The Sena is particularly incensed at the March layout that has Anna sitting with her back turned to the camera. Clad in only a bikini bottom, she appears to be topless and has a string of seashells draped around her neck.

"Pictures like these are a shame upon our culture. Imagine what effect they will have when put up in colleges and hostels. It's sure to pollute the minds of our youngsters," fumes UP Shiv Sena chief and High Court lawyer Vijay Kumar Tewari.

Udai Pandey, vice-president of the Sena's state unit, is just as agitated. "It is a sad day when a company uses nudity to sell liquor," says Pandey.
The Sena is not satisfied just venting its ire. Alleging that the Kingfisher Calendar portrays women indecently, the organisation wants police to treat the Kingfisher Calendar as pornographic material in case it is bought and sold in the market. Failing such action by the cops, Sena activists have threatened to make a bonfire out of copies of the calendar.

Uttar Pradesh's morality minders will be out in force on Valentine's Day too. Like every year, a decision has been taken to prohibit hotels and restaurants from holding special celebrations on February 14. So-called 'chimpanzee squads' of the Shiv Sena and the Hindu Jagran Manch will patrol parks and gardens to shoo lovers away.

Ash signs Douglas' next film

MUMBAI, Jan 25: Hollywood star Michael Douglas has signed former Miss World and Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai for his forthcoming venture - Racing the Monsoon. The deal was signed in Mumbai a few minutes ago.

The international action flick is to be produced jointly by Sahara One Motion Pictures, Percept Pictures Company and Douglas. The film, expected to go on floors early 2006, will be shot entirely in India with a huge portion being shot at the picturesque Amby Valley on the Pune-Mumbai highway.
Aishwarya Rai is being considered for the lead female role although nothing is yet finalised, said a Sahara One official. Douglas will reportedly have a double role in the film.
The film is being directed by Steven Carr.

Lebanon Lingerie

Models display creations by Diamony Agency in Beirut on January 17, 2005. The agency held a show of its lingerie collection in the Lebanese capital

Models displaying creations in Beirut Models displaying lingerie collection

Leo's 'Aviator' wins best picture

BEVERLY HILLS, Jan 17: The Howard Hughes epic The Aviator and the road-trip romp Sideways earned best-picture Golden Globes, boosting their status as front-runners for the upcoming Academy Awards. The Aviator won on Sunday for best dramatic film, giving it an edge at the Oscars, which favour heavyweight drama. Sideways won for comedy film.

Jamie Foxx of the Ray Charles film biography Ray , Hilary Swank of the boxing saga Million Dollar Baby , Annette Bening of the showbiz comedy Being Julia and Leonardo DiCaprio of The Aviator also boosted their Oscar odds by winning the top acting Globes. The Aviator ended up with three Golden Globes, while Sideways , Million Dollar Baby , and Closer won two apiece.

"Can I just tell you that I am having the ride of my life right now?" said Foxx, considered the favorite to win the best-actor Oscar for his uncanny emulation of Ray Charles, who died last year. "I wish I could take what I'm feeling right now and put it in the water system, and we would all love each other a whole lot more."

Earning a record three Globe nominations, Foxx lost in his other two categories, supporting movie actor for Collateral and actor in a TV movie or miniseries for Redemption. Bening won for best actress in a movie musical or comedy, playing an aging stage diva in 1930s London who plots gleeful revenge against the men in her life.

Backstage, Bening said that while Hollywood economics is geared toward roles for younger actresses, she said there are filmmakers eager to present tales of older women. "I think there's no question that sexism exists, but I think that as long as people are willing to fight and create interesting stories that involve women of all different ages, then the movies will get made," Bening said

Fashion Rio filled with easygoing fun

RIO DE JANEIRO (Brazil), Jan 17: When it comes to fashion this city is not Paris, Milan, New York or London. That's probably a good thing. Fashion Rio - the weeklong event of fall/winter collections, which ended on Saturday - is about fun almost as much as it is about fashion. It's the kind of event where Naomi Campbell can break character, lose her ever-present runway pout to smile and wave at friends in the front row.

"I feel at home. It's perfect. It's great," said Brazilian top model Isabelli Fontana as she readied for the catwalk. The audience is packed with tele-novela stars and local celebrities who often turn out to watch their children on the runway giving the whole event a small town air.

Maybe that's why aside from Campbell - who has become something of a fixture at Fashion Rio -most of the models who turn out for the event are internationally known Brazilians like Mariana Weickert, Caroline Ribeiro and Ana Claudia Michels. Not to forget the queen of them all: Gisele Bundchen. Bundchen usually stays away from the Rio shows, preferring Sao Paulo where the fashion industry is more established and, yes, more serious.

But this year she was on hand to parade for the Colcci label late on Friday. And the local talent doesn't end with the models. The shows feature a slew of inventive young Brazilian designers like Victor Dzenk, Liliane Rebehy, Danielle Jensen and Tito Bessa. This seasons' shows were dominated by browns and earth tones and many drew their inspiration from a gypsy look - a world away from skimpy color-infused clothing that usually characterizes Brazilian fashion.

Jensen designing for the Maria Bonita label leaned heavily on the brown monotones of wood and iron to create geometric dresses with richly textured materials. Rebehy designing for the Coven label also stuck to a brown palate with a soberly elegant show set in an artist's studio. The clothing included lots of shawls and heavy chains.

Dzenk, whose clothes sell under his own name, combined rich multicolored shawls with peasant dresses and black leather - must have clothing for high-concept hippies. Always elegant, Luciano Canale and Marco of Sta. Ephigenia, drew their inspiration from Eastern Europe offering flowing skirts with form fitting tops, with only sparing splashes of color. Bessa called his show for the TNG label "Brazilian Influence," and avoided the gypsy inspired look that seemed to dominate offering springy looking flower print dresses and variations on English school uniforms.

Naomi joins Nipplegate club

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 14: Wardrobe malfunction or fashion statement? That's what Brazilians were left wondering on Thursday, a day after top model Naomi Campbell paraded with her breasts bared at Fashion Rio - a weeklong event of fall/winter collections, which ends on Friday.

Campbell kicked off the fashion show for the TNG label in a simple white flower print dress, topped with a white mink stole. But less than halfway down the runway, the sleeveless deep V-neck dress proved more revealing than perhaps designer Tito Bessa had intended. It wasn't clear if a strap or button had come undone or whether it simply fit Campbell loosely.

Following the fashion show, neither Campbell nor Bessa were talking. "The people (in Brazil) are happy, I have great friends and the clothes make me look younger, too," was all Campbell, 34, had to say. In recent years, Campbell has been a frequent visitor to Brazil, parading at the Rio and Sao Paulo fashion shows. She spent New Year's at a fashionable island resort at Angra dos Reis.

After the show, Campbell said she was heading back to New York to promote a movie, the name of which escaped her. Brazilian top models Isabelli Fontana, Mariana Weickert, Caroline Riberio and Ana Claudia Michels also participated in the TNG show.

Swimsuit 2005

MUMBAI: In 2003, United Breweries introduced the Kingfisher Swimsuit Special Calendar and it has since become an extremely coveted possession. The Kingfisher Swimsuit Special 2005 has been shot in South Africa and features some of India's hottest models, including Yana Gupta.Here's a sneak peek at this rare combination of photography, fashion, sun, surf and sand!

Bollywood star Salman Khan launched the Kingfisher Swimsuit South Africa Special 2005 calendar in Mumbai on Sunday. Cindy Burbridge, Pia Trivedi, Vijay Mallya, photographer Atul Kasbekar, model-turned Bollywood actress Yana Gupta and Sheetal Menon were also present at the event. Dr Vijay Mallya was also seen posing with actress Shilpa Shetty at the calendar launch.

In February 2005, the model is Cindy Burbridge, the designer is Namrata Joshipura and the location is Klipspringer Koppies, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. In March 2005, the model is Asha Leo and the designer is Kiran Uttam Ghosh. The location is Kingfisher Lodge, Mabula Private Game Reserve. In May 2005, the model is Cindy Burbridge and the designer is Ranna Gill. The location is Amber Suite Earth Lodge, Sabi Sabi.

In June 2005, the model is Pia Trivedi, the designer is Shantanu & Nikhil and the location is Imbali Safari Lodge, Kruger National Park. In July 2005, the model is Asha Leo and the designers are Gauri & Nainika. The location is Kingfisher Lodge, Mabula Private Game Reserve. In December 2005, the model is Yana Gupta, the designer is Falguni & Shane Peacock and the location is Kingfisher Lodge, Mabula Private Game Reserve.

You just can't miss this kiss

Just when one thought that the tinsel towners are growing up - what with some of them actually coming out and confessing to their lurve affairs rather than the hackneyed 'we are good friends' - someone kisses, is 'caught', denies and its back to the same 'holier-than-thou' game.

If you haven't read/heard about it already, here goes the 'latest breaking news'. The Kapur and Kapoor lovebirds (Shahid-Kareena) were reportedly kissing at a Mumbai restaurant, were caught on camera (presumably a camera phone, one more down to MMS) and are now denying everything from puckering up to even being at the restaurant.

Along with denying, the two are also demanding an 'unconditional' apology (as opposed to a conditional apology being something to the effect of "I am sorry if..." just an after thought). Kareena is also apparently claiming Rs 20 crore damages for loss of reputation. All this over an innocent kiss (ignoring the darting tongue for now)?

On one hand, Bollywood declares smooching scenes in movie are aesthetical and important because they are a reflection of what is happening in society. The most popular refrain being, 'Couples kiss in real life; we are just portraying that.' On the other hand, two Bollywood 'stars' who have publicly declared they are in love are photographed kissing and then go about denying it.

One can try and empathise with the 'breach of privacy' issue. But then one wonders, privacy in a public place? So if you are kissing in a restaurant - a very public place, the public will see you kissing. It will see you kissing if you are a star and it will see you kissing if you are not a star.

We can understand when Kareena says that the pictures were an 'embarrassment' - you are watching the late night news with your folks and suddenly there are pictures of you smooching your beau. One can also understand two young people receiving flak from elders back home and therefore saying, "We didn't do it."

But what happens when the same 'kids from respectable families' lock lips on the screen (older sis Karisma in Raja Hindustani and Kareena with Fardeen Khan in Dev )? If it is alright to show kissing on screen - demands of script, reality, etc - why such a big deal about being photographed kissing? Or is it that respectability only rests for the moolah?

Let's forget that too for a while. Shahid, in a television interview went on to say that they had "never kissed in the restaurant or anywhere else". Give us a break please. It is alright for a couple to kiss, especially today when things are much more out-in-the-open.

Now to come to entire questionability of the situation - were the couple shown kissing actually Kareena and Shahid? According to the Mumbai tabloid, yes they were and they apparently have a video clip to prove it. According to Kareena, it was not them and she would "fight for her dignity".

For now, one can wait and watch... but if at all it was the two, we say, Kapur and Kapoor turn your back to the world, say "yes it was us, and so what?" and walk off into the sunset.

Britney tops searches

LONDON: Britney Spears has earned the title of the most-searched-for person for the third time in four years, thanks to her headline grabbing antics. The tally compiled by the website America Online places twin actresses Mary Kate and Ashley Oslen second, beating American television personalities Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa who came third, reported femalefirst.co.uk.

The top three "mother" searches were Julia Roberts, Shar Jackson - former girlfriend of Spears' husband Kevin Federline - and Liv Tyler, who gave birth to a baby boy last week. Musician Usher came on top in the most-searched-for under the male category with Kobe Bryant coming first in the most-searched-for athlete. The survey processes as many as 700 million search queries per month.

Shahrukh excels in Swades

The Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan has proved his critics wrong with Ashutosh Gowarikar's film Swades, which was received with mixed responses at the box office. There are two schools of thoughts; one found it intellectually stimulating, while others said that its less appealing. Quite often he has been criticised for being obsessed with himself and playing himself on the screen rather the character. But in Swades he has proved the statement wrong. The film doesn't show a single trace of Bollywood Badshah's iconic attitude.

So far he has only portrayed the larger-than-life roles in films like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhie Khusi Kabhie Gham and Devdas. In fact its not Shahrukh's fault entirely. He was roped in by the Chopras and Johars to act in their well-packaged love-sagas time and again as a result he never got an opportunity to show his acting abilities.

Recently Bollywood's 'realistic' filmmaker, Ramgopal Varma, criticised Shahrukh and said, "What is Shahrukh Khan? Nothing, without the right packaging. Shahrukh Khan comes with a package, the best musicians, the best clothes, the perfect look - he is really smart to get all that just right. If all these things are not correct, I don't think people will like Shahrukh as much. So I avoid stars, who cost a huge amount of money, and pool all my resources in the idea."

His critics like Varma must watch the actor in Swades where he is devoid of glitz, glamour and starry attitude. He slips into the character of Mohan Bhargav, a guy-next-door, with ease and carries off the role of an NRI with élan and perfection. From his mannerisms to his clothes - the perfection is reflected everywhere. He played the part extremely well, from his ability to portray an intelligent and sophisticated project manager in NASA, to an NRI showing no signs of discomfort while trying to adjust in a remote village in India called Charanpur.

Varma claims that if the idea is right, then people come to see that. That's all that works. If that's the case then the audience will go to watch Swades - both for Shahrukh and the idea. However, Ashutosh Gowariker's noble intentions might not prove to be a great idea for the box-office but the film has proved that Shahrukh is no less than Aamir Khan in etching out the real life characters on screen.

The year 2004 is very significant for Shahrukh as it re-established his iconic status, thanks to hits like Main Hoon Na and Veer Zara. The acceptance of his role in both the films, though they dealt with two different aspects of life, substantiated the fact that there is no one like Shahrukh Khan.
He is the most keenly watched current superstar of Indian cinema. As Karan Johar rightly describes him: Shahrukh is far too intelligent and when he says something like I'm the best" or "I'll always be a superstar", he means it and knows what he is doing. Hence one shouldn't underestimate his potential as an actor. Even at 40, he is still too full of energy and thriving for better roles.

Branson at Sydney beach

SYDNEY, Dec 9: British billionaire Richard Branson carries model Ashleigh Warwick from the surf while promoting the maiden flight of his flagship airline, Virgin Atlantic, from London to Australia on Sydney's Bondi Beach. Branson said he wanted to smash the Qantas-British Airways control on the "kangaroo route" by having daily Virgin Atlantic flights via Hong Kong.

Branson is in Sydney to promote Virgin Atlantic's new arrangement for passengers travelling from Hong Kong to Sydney and that Virgin passengers can now fly from London to Australia, where Branson also owns part of low-cost domestic carrier Virgin Blue. Branson also poses with Miss Bondi competition contestants and lifesavers at Sydney's Bondi Beach.

Branson in Sydney to promote Virgin

SYDNEY, Dec 8: British entrepreneur Richard Branson stands with two models as he disembarks his Virgin Atlantic plane after it arrived in Sydney on Wednesday. Branson is in Sydney to promote Virgin Atlantic's new arrangement for passengers travelling from Hong Kong to Sydney. Virgin passenegers can now fly from London to Australia, where Branson also part-owns low cost domestic carrier Virgin Blue. Atlantic chairman Branson hopes to have up to 300,000 passengers a year flying on the new London-to-Sydney service.

The emancipation of Mariah

Mariah Carey has come out of the closet to reveal her nickname to her fans. Pop diva Mariah Carey has told her legions of fans that they can now start calling her Mimi. Says Mariah, it is the nickname known only to "those closest to me," but now feels ready to let her "guard down" and reveal it publicly.

Mariah left a message at her fan club addressing her fans as "Dear Lambs. Mimi is a very personal nickname only used by those closest to me... just one of those little things that I've kept for myself in an attempt to have some delineation between a public persona and a private life."

"By naming the album 'The Emancipation of Mimi' I am letting my guard down and inviting my fans to be that much closer to me."
Mariah's secret name follows Madonna's revelation that she likes to be called 'Esther' and Janet Jackson naming her latest album 'Damita Jo' - her middle name.
Mariah's new single - 'Say Something' featuring Snoop Dogg - will be released next month. 'The Emancipation of Mimi', Mariah's tenth studio album, is her first since 2002's 'Charmbracelet', which failed to charm the audience.

Baywatch heads for big screen

LONDON: Baywatch could soon appear on the big screen. But its iconic stars Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff and Carmen Electra might not make it to the celluloid version. DreamWorks have confirmed that they have bought the film rights to the show, reported the Guardian.

Neither Hasselhoff, nor Pamela Anderson have been approached for the film, although it will be produced by the show's original creators Michael Berk, Doug Schwartz and Greg Bonnan. In 2003, Hasselhoff, Anderson and many of the cast appeared in TV movie "Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding". It is said DreamWorks will look for fresh faces for their own take on the popular 1990s series.

UK soldiers in lesbian sex show

LONDON, Nov 10: A film shot inside a British army tent in Iraq, in the heart of the war zone, has become the latest controversy to rock the coalition forces in Iraq. A raunchy video, shot six weeks ago, featuring two women British soldiers performing lesbian acts, while being cheered on by their male colleagues, is currently being investigated by Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch, reports News Of The World website.

Shot at a place called Shaiba, located near the Basra airport, the video has left the authorities red-faced. A probe has reportedly been initiated into the matter. The two blonde female soldiers and the others who cheered them on, from the Royal Engineers, are now being questioned by the Royal Military Police Special Investigation.

Referred to as Angie and Jane, the two girls are seen writhing on top of each other in the video footage while the excited bystanders urge them to get on with the action. Remotely print-worthy catcalls like "Go on bitch!", "Rip her jeans down!", "On your knees!" and a raucous "Get 'em off!" can be heard in the background, the website reports. As some of the men lunge forward to join in, they are stopped by others whose view of the action is being obstructed.

While some soldiers are seen using their camera phones to capture the moment, others endlessly gulp down beer, which is rationed to two cans daily for each soldier. The fact that there is currently one high profile Special Investigation Branch inquiry taking place into the booze culture among British troops in Iraq and another on in Afghanistan just makes the situation even more ironic.

What is surprising is that the makers of the tape have not tried to hide their location and profiles. Even though no one is in uniform and everyone appears to be off duty, a soldier's mark 6 armoured helmet and body armor is plainly visible in the background, reports News Of The World .

Moreover, there are clear shots of the distinctive floor webbing used in army quarters. There is also a stack of mineral water - the type imported by the army from Kuwait - and an army regulation air-conditioning unit, the site reports. Over a dozen copies of the video have been reportedly doing the rounds in the army bases in Iraq. A disgruntled colleague was the one who alerted the authorities, says the website.

Tara Reid pulls a nipplegate

LONDON, Nov 7: Hollywood actress Tara Reid became the latest celebrity to join the 'Nipplegate' bandwagon after her left breast popped out of her dress as she arrived for hip hop artist P Diddy's birthday bash, in New York. The American Pie actress whipped off her fur wrap as she arrived, which in turn lowered her dress and exposed her breast and she did not even realize it until an attendant warned her.

The actress however seemed unperturbed as she told the press photographers, who were snapping away like crazy, to abstain from publishing them anywhere. "She giggled and wagged a finger at the snappers, saying I'd better not see those photos anywhere," The Sun quoted an onlooker as saying.

I have good penis karma: Pamela

LONDON: Baywatch babe and now best-selling author Pamela Anderson has revealed that she has "good penis karma," i.e. all her past lovers have been well endowed. The actress, who recently wrote her autobiography Star said that she had never seen a small penis until recently. She also revealed that as a youngster she was scared that she would not be good in bed and wouldn't be able to stay in a steady relationship, reports Female First.

"I've always had very good penis karma . I used to say I'd never seen a small one, but recently, maybe I have," the report quoted her as saying. "When I first came to California, I was nervous, thinking, 'I don't know if I can handle how to be with someone.' Then I realised it was all talk, talk, talk. Big hat, no cattle, as my dad used to say," she added.

Poland to host 'Eroticon sex fair'

Poland is organising a fair of its own kind that is sure to raise eyebrows. The country is hosting the Eroticon sex fair, a contest to find the world female sex champion. Three women from Brazil, the US and Poland will be pitted against each other for the Sex Champion title.

Organisers hope that one of them will break the World Sex Record which currently stands at 759 'humps' or the 1,000 men mark. "The World Sexual Record is a great chance to meet famous porn stars and enjoy the most important sex show in the world,” spokesman Krzysztof Garwatowski was quoted as saying.

“And the men who take part will also get the chance to compete for the title of Polish Stallion," he said. The erotic fair also includes an erotic fashion show, go-go dancing competitions, body painting and the chance to meet your favourite porn star.


Hilton sex video no. 2 soon



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