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Big B’s big wish

It will be number crunching of a different kind for the Bollywood badshah on his 62nd birthday. Eveready, one of the many brands that Amitabh Bachchan endorses, is planning to felicitate him on October 11, in a unique way. Eveready Card Yatra will involve the company’s 600,000 business partners making a 2-km-long birthday card for the Big B. More than 2,000 scrolls carrying good wishes of the Eveready partners from all over the country will be combined to create the card.

“We are pretty excited about the whole concept,” says Jayashree Mohanka, group general manager, marketing, Eveready Industries India Limited. “Our field sales people will go over to all the retailers and get them to pen their personal wishes. Once all the wishes are in place, we plan to put all the smaller scrolls in a giant one and present it to him personally.”

Some years back, a similar project was undertaken by South Point School, when around 11,000 students congratulated Kapil Dev on claiming 400 wickets on one long scroll.

The Eveready Yatra has already taken off with the Bachchan fans determined to ensure he has one memorable birthday this year. Sample what one retailer wrote in Rohtak: “Kahaan kahaan raah hogi/ Naye log honge/ Nayee baat hogi/ Tum bhi musafir/ Hum bhi musafir/ Phir kisi mod pe mulakat hogi (There will be new roads, new people, new ideas/ You and I are both travellers, we will meet somewhere, sometime)…

Catherine Zeta-Jones: Dress diva

Role reversal

You loved her doing all that jazz in Chicago. Now it’s time to watch Catherine Zeta-Jones play herself in America’s Sweethearts. The film, to be screened on HBO on Monday at 11.30 am and again on Sunday at 4.15 pm, has Zeta-Jones playing Gwen Harrison, America’s big-screen sweetheart.

While on the one hand, she has to keep her new Spanish boyfriend happy, she also has to tackle veteran press agent Lee Phillips (Billy Crystal), who wants to reunite her with actor Eddie Thomas (John Cusack) for one last public appearance. But she has support in the form of her sister and personal assistant Kiki (Julia Roberts). But everything goes wrong — and then right, in true Hollywood style.

In the real world, Zeta-Jones has knocked Victoria Beckham off the top of the best-dressed charts. According to a poll, conducted by Prima magazine, the Entrapment star was voted number one followed by Big Brother presenter Davina McCall. Oscar-winning actresses dame Judi Dench and Emma Thompson came in third and fourth, striking a blow for stylish older women.

Even as Zeta-Jones continues to impress with her safety pins and zippers, she is having a tough time with low-flying golf balls around her new Welsh mansion. To counter them, the mom of two has got special-security windows installed.

Sweethearts, too, can’t win them all.

Sachin and Sunny: Two much

Legends of the game

Given the way Team India has been performing lately, it may not be the best of times for a documentary on Indian cricketing legends that include a few from the current crop. But Great Indian Cricketers may actually help the cause with some inspiration from the past.

The first episode of BBC’s four-part documentary on the lives and careers of some Indian legends was aired on Saturday. Hosted by cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar, the series focuses on batsmen, bowlers, fielders and captains in the four episodes.

“It is the second such effort from us,” Manjrekar told Metro. The first was during the build-up to World Cup 2003 while this one leads to the ICC trophy. “The series tries to capture the skills Indian cricket has been blessed with through the years,” he adds.

In each episode, three players will be featured. The one on great batsmen had Polly Umrigar, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. The bowlers in the spotlight are Bishen Singh Bedi, Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble. The chosen fielders are Eknath Solkar, Syed Kirmani and Mohammed Kaif, while the captains corner belongs to Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly.

How were the selections done? “Not always based on numbers, but rather on the impact they made on Indian cricket,” offers Manjrekar. “Thus we have someone like Umrigar who ruled before the Gavaskar and Tendulkar eras.”

For Manjrekar, highlights of the series include some rare footage of the legends at play. “Pataudi in action, for instance,” he says. “He looks such a modern cricketer in his shots and style.”

Something else to look out for is a catch by Solkar. “A shot from the batsman hits Solkar on the back, the ball bounces off him and then he dives to pull off a stunner,” gushes Manjrekar.

Teammates of the legends featured in the series have also been interviewed. “Those who shared the dressing room and those who played alongside offered valuable insights into their characters,” Manjrekar adds.

Like others, Team India’s poor form is a worry for Manjrekar too. “It is a tense moment for the team right now,” he feels. “But it remains to be seen how Ganguly responds to the challenge.”

Fitness, according to him, is a genuine concern (“we lost Asia Cup because we didn’t look fit enough”). But looking ahead to Champions Trophy and beyond, Manjrekar hopes that the team regains its spirit and performance.

“It has always been a side driven by emotion and not clinical approach or method...” he trails off.

Champ choice

After eight weeks and a staggering 4.5 lakh votes polled, it is billed to be the largest televised Bollywood poll. The aim was to get the populace to choose the kings and queens of hearts.

And fans responded enthusiastically, with responses coming from New Zealand, China, the US, Canada and West Asia. The results were announced at a glittering ceremony, attended by Bollywood’s best and brightest. The show will be beamed on Star Plus, at 8 pm, on September 12.

The verdict is in but the prizes are out for viewers to collect. Though votes cannot be cast anymore, they can take part in the Watch ’n’ Win contest during the telecast of Pepsi Gold Sabsey Favourite Kaun?

The question is simple: Who has the country voted for as its favourite hero? An SMS has to be sent to 7827 with Hrithik Roshan, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan as the choices.

The winner gets a 22-karat gold-plated replica of the actual trophy won by the likes of Preity Zinta, Bipasha Basu and Vivek Oberoi. The contest ends at the stroke of midnight, September 12.

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