Off the record

Shatru turns friend

More than 30 years after they last worked together in Yash Johar’s blockbuster Dostana, Amitabh Bachchan has expressed his desire to work with Shatrughan Sinha again provided someone is ready to cast them together. Big B’s unexpected reaction came when he was in Patna, the hometown of Shatrughan, to promote his forthcoming movie Aarakshan.

Reams of newsprint have gone into describing the so-called rivalry between the senior Bachchan and the Bihari Babu. But their ‘friendship’ hit an all-time low when Amitabh did not invite Shatru and his family for Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding. Shatru felt all the more offended when a packet of sweets was sent to his house after the wedding was over.

But over the years, it seems, time has helped heal the wounds. Putting the decades-long animosity on the backburner, Big B said he had no problem in working with the actor-turned-BJP MP from Patna Sahib, “provided there is a good script, and the producer-director is willing to cast us together.”

Refusing to discuss the age-old rivalry, which even saw veteran film-maker Yash Chopra encash their ‘enmity’ in Kala Patthar, Big B humbly said, “There is no rivalry as such. I have no inhibitions in working with Shatru ji, who is a good actor, aur achche insaan bhi hain. (He is a good human being too).”

Any one ready for the casting coup?

Abhay Kumar, Patna

Pushing the Metro

The employees at Bharat Earth Movers Limited’s (BEML) Thippasandra facility here, alike most Bangaloreans, are apprehensive about Namma Metro chugging along its reach-1 (Baiyappanahalli-MG Road) tracks anytime soon.

Their apprehensions, they exhibited at a ceremony last week of July, when their company handed over the keys to five metro coaches to the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL).

Adding voice to their opinion was BEML Chairman and Managing V R S Natarajan, who, during the conference following the key handing over ceremony said: “...The metro station is so close from here that we can push the coaches to it!”

Natarajan’s statement was immediately greeted with: “Yes! Of course, that is probably the only way we can hope to see the project run.” A mid-level employee of BEML, who could not contain her frustration said quietly. And she was not the only one to see the darker side of the statement.

Among those who toed the line with her thought were journalists “fed up” of tracking the project and its various “missed dates” with deadlines.

Although Natarajan did not intend to judge the pace at which the project is being executed or intend any pun, he ended up evoking such a response. And typical of him, the BMRCL Managing Director N Sivasailam, managed to “giggle” it away!

Chethan Kumar, Bangalore

Ramesh’s old green style

Jairam Ramesh has been a visible minister. People will remember his tenure in the environment ministry for bold decisions like cancellation of environmental clearance to Sterlite for bauxite mining.

His detractors may be wondering how will he manage same sort of limelight in the rural development ministry. They consider it to be ministry devoid of glamour. But, Ramesh is proving them wrong. He is adopting old styles to make his ministry as glamorous as the environment ministry to attract media attention.

An almost dry issue of land acquisition has suddenly started gaining media attention thanks to his remarks like “lands can’t be acquired for constructing malls and shopping complexes for private enterprises for private purposes”. To impress upon fellow parliamentarians, Ramesh did not forget to mention that he would be visiting Jantar Mantar to meet activists demonstrating against the draft Land Acquisition bill.

The same old style of appearing as a pro-people, transparent and sensitive minister! But, will this trick work again? “No,” said a senior activist at Jantar Mantar, because no one trust him. He has been exposed in his handling of the Posco issue. He retracted and gave environmental clearance to the South Korean steel giant contrary to our expectations.” Will Jairam realise he has lost the ground and stop using an old style?
Anil Sinha, New Delhi

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