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Could Acting Be Next for the Singer?



4 years ago, Nafees burst on the British Asian Music scene with Bukhar – and has not looked backed.

No-one could have predicted how he would go on to make such a massive impact within the Asian music industry in just a short space of time, without any formal training and without the help of an established record label to promote him.

For a brand new artist, this was unheard of. The public were obviously intrigued, but this was just the beginning of the love affair of the fans with the new star which had only just started to shine. The Manchester-born star talks to DesiXpress.



Your track is number one in the Asian music charts. What’s the secret?

Thank you to everyone that has supported me. God bless you! I couldn’t have done it without you guys. Thank you! It’s my seventh hit but fifth number one so. I’m not here to compete with anyone. I’m following my own steps and my own conviction. I guess it’s just about leaving it to the One above.



You shot your music video in Dubai. Tell me about that experience.

I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being out there and experiencing it, it’s one I won’t forget.



In terms of your singing career, did you have a Guru or Ustaad?

No, not really. I’ve never had anyone who at the beginning of my career gave me any tips with regards to music. But eventually I met up with a few vocal coaches and you get on with them. You have to be able to do that in this industry. If you don’t, you’re really not fulfilling your potential to the max.



You seem like the kind of guy that would make people feel at ease.

That’s the main thing! You don’t want people to feel uncomfortable around you. You make home wherever we go. If people like you, they like you for what you are. It’s a blessing.



What have you got lined up. Could acting be next?

You never know! I’ve done a few drama courses! I’ve set a goal and I would like to see some of my music being played in Bollywood and I want to be able to walk away on a high. You get a lot of artists who have given up because they have run out of inspiration or faded out because of the new generation. 2016 I want to give my all. I’m giving my fans a few songs. I want to leave my names among some of the best.

If the time is right then the time is right. Before I started my music, I set goals.



So what have you got planned for 2016?

You’ll have to wait! I’m not the sort of guy that lets people know. Anyone with a secret doesn’t want to let their secret away. I’ve got something up my sleeve.

Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi is currently in London filming the Indian remake of Hollywood movie Occulus.


The 29-year-old ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ star met up with The Asian Today’s Bollywood reporter Sunny Malik and discussed her life in the world of Bollywood.


How has it been filming in London so far?
I love London. I have been here before a few times while I was a college student. It’s the first time I am here after becoming an actor. I guess it’s different especially because I am filming a movie. Londo is amazing. The shops are great. I attended The Championships, Wimbledon and it was nice to see Sania Mirza win. I also saw a few musicals and theatres. I love the ones in London as they transport you into another world. When I first came here, I had to plan everything around my budget. Now I had the best seats in the house (laughs).


You yourself have worked in theatre in India. How smooth was the transition to films?
Movies are completely different, from conducting yourself to performance style, presentation and everything really. Theatre is a far more internal process at the same time it’s very gratifying. You get an instant reaction as to hoe people are reacting to your performance. Film on the other hand is a very long process where you have to patient. You also need to be aware of what you did before a scene and what you will have to do afterwards. It’s very technical and you depend on many more people to help you.


Is it less work than theatre then?
Actually it’s more work. I thought being a film actress will be an easy and glamorous job. No one told me that it will be such a hard job. I should have just run my Dad’s Kebab shop in Delhi (laughs).


Why did you take a risk and start your career with an unconventional film like Gangs of Wasseypur?
To be honest, it wasn’t like someone was waiting to launch me in Bollywood. I met Anurag Kashyap as he directed an advertisement with me and Aamir Khan. That itself was a very big deal for me. I was occasionally giving three auditions on a daily basis. I really admired Anurag’s work and I’m glad that I took up his offer. People told that I should wait for the conventional launch. The idea wasn’t to go directly to the big leagues. My first film had its debut at the Cannes Film Festival and I am very proud of it. I couldn’t have asked for a better debut.


Is it not more difficult to break into conventional films now?
Not really. I get offered conventional roles a lot. However, I want to do the right role. I don’t want to do a film where I have to run around a tree because everyone else thinks that I should do it. I believe that I have only grown with every film. I don’t want to step down and just do something for the sake of it.


Why is this film important to you?

This movie is very close to my heart, it means a lot to me, especially because it is a movie about Martial Arts, which makes it even more important for me. The movie is releasing in August this year, which also co-incides with me completing 25 years in the film industry and it means so much to me that this happens to be a movie about Martial Arts commemorating the accomplishment of my 25 years, when it’s because of my martial arts background that got me into the film industry in the first place. We’re mliterally going full circles.


Could you please tell me more about the character you’re playing in “Brothers”?

My character is a school teacher who teaches Physics and Chemistry. He used to be Mixed Martial Artist who would fight on the streets for money. Mixed Martial Arts is a very dangerous profession and due to issues monetary issues, my character faces he has no choice but to go back to the streets to flight in a professional tournament.


How was your experience working with Karan Johar?

Karan is mainly in the production side for this movie so I don’t really get to work with him much. But he really knows how to make big and brilliant movies; he knows how to do it right and I’m just here to make him happy :)


Mixed Martial Arts sounds dangerous!

Yes, Mixed Martial Arts is a dangerous practice that could result in injuries and loss of life. Even during filming we would end up with abdominal injuries and smacks on our face but overall it was important for the role to look realistic and conditioning for us actors to make the movie as real as possible.

Desipte being a professional martial artists, I underwent vigorous training for six months to be fit for the role. But besides all the fighting, there’s also a poignant love story at the heart of the film which we find out later is the main reason why my character goes on to become a street MMA fighter.


What all was involved in the training for the role?

The main part of the training was a 6 month intense and gruelling work-out followed by practicing different fighting styles like Judo, Karate, Kyudo, Aikido and other Mixed Martial Arts.


What was the most challenging part of your role?

The most challenging part was fighting like a professional MMA fighter, learning from the best and then trying to catch up with their fighting techniques! But I thoroughly enjoyed it as my teachers are from everywhere around the world – from Brazil, LA, Bangkok and Japan – they are true MMA fighters. It was an honour to learn fromt the best.

As part of our training programme I had to lose upto 16 Kg’s and Sidharth Malhotra had to gain 13 Kg’s in weight!

Whilst fighting was a major physical challenge, we also had to face a lot of mental challenge. A very high level of mental attention is required to remember your punches and every move.


Wow that must have been a challenge! Do you ever take a break?

Hah, its been 25 years and I haven’t had a break J Jokes a part my international filming schedulre becomes a break for me. Its the best thing if your work is your passion in life. It makes me feel like I’m always on break.


How was it working with Sidharth Malhotra?

Sidharth is a very talented young man; he is very professional when it comes to work. Although he had no experience with MMA he did really well. He also went through 8 months of training.

Sidharth has a great future ahead of him. In Brothers he plays the character of a “man” unlike his ealier movies, where he’s mostly played young characters.

We had a great time on set. He’s a Punjabi, I am Punjabi and even our director Karan Malhotra is Punjabi! We spoke in Punjabi all the time to the degree the film should have been called Prah (Brothers in Punjabi). Haha.


Do you have some MMA tips or warnings for your fans out there?

Mixed Martial Arts is wonderful to watch, it is very parctical but dangerous at the same time. You have to be very careful when doing something like that. Watch and enjoy MMA, and if some people are thinking about doing it, they must be very careful and think about enrolling in training first, they must make a thoughtful decision before actually doing it.


There are lots of talks going on about the movie everywhere, you must’ve done an amazing job. Infact I was researching about the movie right before this interview and I found out that the movie is a remake of the movie “Warrior” by Gavin ‘O Connor and Cliff Dorfman, I believe you will put forward an amzaing performance, maybe better than the original?

Well that’s news to me but very humbling to hear. We have tried our level best to give the best performance we can. I wouldn’t really compare the two movies to be honest as we probably can’t make it better than the original but we gave it all we could. Let’s see what the audience says.


The movie has a wonderful cast, we also have an “item-number” performance by Kareena Kapoor. Sidarth Malhotra and Jackie Shroff also play lead roles.. Is there a love story somewhere in the story line?

Absolutely, there is a love story in the movie. I mean the movie is about street fighting, but there’s a reason to why the fighting happens in the first place which emenates from love. You will get to know that there’s a love story between Jacqueline Fernandez and I, there’s also a family related love story between Jackie Shroff and Sidharth and also between Shefali and I. The fighting comes later on in the movie, the film’s main emphasis is on it’s relationships.


Akshay, what’s your favourite genre of movies? I mean you’ve done many different types of roles in different movies, which one is your favourite? Is it comedy, drama or action?

I like comedy when its mixed with action, its just so much fun to do comedy with a bit of action, its fun to watch and also so much fun to do.


So the movie is releasing on the 14th of August this year, which is just one day prior to the Indian independence day, does the movie have a hidden message of patriotism or any message relating independence of India?

No, no, there’s no patriotic messages, the movie is not related to the independence day and it does not end with me waving a flag J


How has it been working with so many Karan’s in the movie? The director is Karan Malhotra and Karan Johar is producing the movie? Is there more Karan’s you’ll work with in the future?

Ha, no that’s just a co-incidence, it was not planned to be like that.


What are your next projects?

My focus is on the release of Brothers. After that I have Singh is Blinng coming out on the 2nd October and then Airlift in January 2016. In Singh is Blinng i play a larger than life character, something I haven’t done in a couple of years since Rowdy Rathore. My films have been pretty serious with Gabbar, Baby, Special 24. I’m really excited about Airlift as it is a story about Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait.


What is your hope for Brothers?

I hope it brings in the mullah and gets the box office ringing whilst also gaining critical acclaim.


Your final message to your fans please!

I would just like to tell my fans how much it means to me to make a movie that they like. I really hope all my fans like Brothers. I would also like to tell them that the movie took about one whole year to make, we literally put our blood, sweat and tears into the making. The climax of the movie took about 52 days to shoot, just to get it perfect for the audience. All the fans across the globe should watch this movie on the big screen, watch it with your family and loved ones, do not watch pirated versions of it, we poured out our sweat and blood into this movie.

Zack Knight and Raxstar team up for a powerhouse collaboration with Queen released through T-Series.

A record which has been highly anticipated, Queen finally puts together two highly sought after and respected artists within the British Asian music scene.


Fresh from his genre busting single Poison, Raxstar is back on form switching from Punjabi to English with confidence and ease. His meaningful bars and unforgettable quotable’s sit effortlessly on the infectious “eastern flute meets western beats” soundscape.


Handling the outstanding production duties is Zack Knight himself. After the multiple successes of hit singles including Looking For Love and Nakhre under his belt, he brings his soulful vocals to Queen. He continues to impress with his plethora of talents and showcases an unseen side of his artistry with his Punjabi chorus (co written by Raxstar & GV).

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“Rousing, Powerful, Persuasive and Gripping” BFI

“World cricket furore rivals FIFA scandal” The Cricket Paper

“Not even into cricket, but Sampson Collins and Jarrod Kimber’s Death of a Gentleman film is astonishing #sheffdocfest #changecricket” Matt Wiggins

“A sweeping, impassioned and polemical chronicle of how the game’s governance has been taken out of the hands of the International Cricket Council and placed in the hands of the ‘Big Three’” The Telegraph




What would you do if something you loved was dying? What if the sport that created your heroes and the back-story to your life, was in danger of disappearing?


Test cricket is a game that has no right to exist in the 21st century. The five-day game is the purest form of the second most popular sport on earth, representative of tradition, history and identity. Yet as the short attention spans of a new generation dictate immediacy, and cricket’s administrators chase the money from the sports rights boom, the Test game is in danger of being swamped by its shorter, sexier, more financially viable cousin ‘Twenty20’. Money corrupts the best of intentions, and as the men in charge rub their hands with glee, the Gentleman’s game is now a product left at the back of the shelf.


Two cricket fans who became journalists, Old Etonian Sam Collins and larrikin Aussie Jarrod Kimber, from opposite ends of the social and geographic scale but united by their love of Test cricket, join forces to try to help save it.

They embark on an idealistic journey across the cricketing empire to find the answer to the question ‘Is Test cricket dying?’


Yet as their investigation gets under way they realise they have stumbled across a sporting scandal far bigger than they could ever have imagined, and it is cricket itself that is under threat.


The next three years see them travel the world trying to gather hard evidence, befriend whistle-blowers and stay under-the-radar long enough to get the film out into the public domain.


They talk to the players, ex-players, broadcasters, journalists, administrators and fans. They venture, often uninvited, into boardrooms, offices, hotel rooms and even the home of cricket itself, Lord’s, looking for answers as to who is responsible, and trying to find a way to save the game they love.


Along the way they befriend journeyman cricketer Eddie Cowan as he prepares to make his Test debut for Australia in front of 70,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Eddie is the guy doing what they always dreamed of. His infectious love for Test cricket helps convince them that Test cricket is still relevant, that it is worth saving.


As a story of deceit, incompetence and greed unfolds; one man is living his dream, while two others are trying to keep theirs from dying; and as Eddie’s future teeters in the balance, so too does the future of cricket itself.


Death of a Gentleman is not a nostalgic look back at a sport that professionals played against amateurs while stopping for tea. It’s a modern morality tale about a future where sport and money collide, India as a super-power, the curse of the professional administrator and set in a world where fans are better connected to (but more disconnected from) their heroes than ever before.


More than that, it is a final call; not just to cricket fans and administrators, but everyone in a rapidly changing world. If you care about something that’s in danger, then don’t pass the buck, do something about it.


Before it’s too late.

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Canadian star collaborates with Grammy Award winning rapper Nelly and Bollywood superstar Abhishek Bachchan

Watch the new lyric video For ‘Until The Sun Comes Up’ HERE 


Canadian pop music star Raghav is set to release his new summer single ‘Until The Sun Comes Up‘. The track features Grammy Award winning rapper Nelly, and an exclusive version that features the hip-hop styling of Bollywood superstar Abhishek Bachchan.


Of the track Raghav says, “I hope people will look years from now at this song being a singular moment when east and west collaborated in a way that has a true global musical impact.  And performing it with Abhishek (who is the most talented human I’ve ever met) and Nelly (who is a legend) make this song even more special to me.


Bachchan, who has starred in over 50 major Bollywood productions, is known for his love of music and having previously featured as a rapper in his movies, he dons the microphone once again for a verse on ‘Until The Sun Comes Up’ in his unique ‘Bachchan-esque’ style. The star has expressed his excitement on his Twitter page this week, personally thanking Raghav, and stating the collaboration was ‘an opportunity to work with two of my favourites.’


Rap star Nelly, a Grammy award-winning artist with 4 UK number ones under his belt also takes a verse on ‘Until The Sun Comes Up’. Last year the rapper turned TV star, having secured his own reality show ‘Nellyville’, which is currently in its second season. His collaboration with Raghav and Abhishek Bachchan is an exciting move for rap music lovers in India.


Since announcing the collaboration last week, social media has been buzzing with conversation about the three stars teaming up for the big summer single, with thousands of tweets from pop, hip hop and Bollywood music fans around the world. The lyric video has received over 35,000 views in just 24 hours since launching on YouTube.


An instant summer anthem ‘Until The Sun Comes Up’ will be accompanied by a powerful full video, set for release in August – highlighting the lack of electricity in Africa.  After teaming up with Solar-Aid.org, an international NGO that has the goal of eliminating the kerosene lamp from Africa by the year 2020, Raghav distributed over 300 solar lights to school-age children in the small rural township of Shungubweni, in Tanzania. Raghav purchased the lights to personally deliver them to the community. The lights will help the students of Shungubweni Secondary School study for an extra 375,000 hours, and save their families $60,000 per light as they will no longer needed to buy kerosene or candles. This amounts to a significant shift towards environmental responsibility and self-sustainability for the families who have received these lights.

Segments of Raghav’s trip will be featured in the music video for ‘Until The Sun Comes Up’, with the aim of creating significant social awareness around the topic. The UK release of the single and video is expected mid – late August.

  1. What attracted you to the story of Umrao Jaan?


For many years now the Asian Music Circuit has been producing music styles that many of the Tawa’if used to sing (namely Thumri and Ghazal). I personally grew up listening to Indian classical music so it’s in my blood. I love thumri and ghazal so I wanted to present these genres in an innovative way and in the context from which they evolved; for example, the interaction between the Hindu and Islamic cultures, the royal courts, the impact of recordings and the historical, political and social background.


I was inspired by a visit to the Royal Albert Hall when I went to see a production of Madam Butterfly. The stage setting and production values were so impressive. I wanted to do something like that for Indian music; I wanted to create a serious, beautiful, classical, traditional production in a contemporary way, to appeal to different audiences across society.  One of my main concerns was keeping it original, and not copying the film by Muzzafar Ali, which was so iconic and beautiful in itself. What I really wanted to focus on was to create a different kind of theatre production, so I commissioned a script to be written in English, use 19th Century Urdu poetry and use traditional classical music for the ghazals. Our writer, Simon Mundy, is a wonderful poet, has even included some of his work in the play.


  1. Umrao Jaan has been told in many amazing and recognised ways; is the play more inspired by the film or the novel?


One can’t help but be moved and inspired by Muzzafar Ali’s film of 1981 with its lovely poetry (different from the book) and music. However, I did not want to copy the film. It’s true that whenever one thinks of Umrao Jaan, one thinks of the music and lyrics of the movie rather than the original Urdu novel. So, I wanted to produce something that was different from both but was still inspired by the wonderful music that I have had the privilege of listening to and meeting the artists who performed it.

I also wanted to try and compose the music myself – as a classical music performer, one improvises and creates music all the time. However composing for a play is very different and very challenging, and I wanted to give it a go before it was too late! It really would be great to have the audience leaving the theatre with my music still in their head!


  1. How did the music publishing company, HMV influence the status of courtesans in the period?

This is a fascinating story! In a nutshell, around 1900, the British Gramophone and Typewriter Company (later HMV), provided a platform to take the female artists from their “salons” to the concert stage! As patronage from royalty, nobility and gentry dwindled away, the British had no interest in using the women other than as prostitutes. With the strongly prevalent conservative attitudes of Indian society, the women artists lost their position of privilege and influence and also gradually their art.


However, the British Typewriter and Gramophone Company provided an opportunity of an alternative income to the courtesans, with many of them becoming famous recording artists.  In the later 20th century of course the women had also become great solo vocalists touring internationally and performing concerts. Their records clearly sold in large numbers. One artist recorded some 60 recordings of her music and was handsomely paid even by today’s standards. From a business perspective, the opportunity for the British Gramophone and Typewriter Company was fantastic. The Indian market was huge and the demand was very high – thus HMV was born! This really raised questions; was this another kind of British exploitation of Indian people?  Or like the railways do the British consider this as their contribution to Indian culture (even though the main beneficiary was the Gramophone Company)? At the time it was stated British policy to try to destroy Indian culture – but was the temptation of profit slowing down the destruction of culture? What has happened to that policy now?


The legacy of recordings is both good and bad; good because it provides us with a phenomenal archive and record of Indian music culture – an oral tradition – from which we can learn a huge amount; however being an oral music tradition and one in which improvisation plays a huge role, with no written music, recordings became a replacement for the written scores. Thus the spontaneity was getting lost as people would just copy the music on the recordings instead of developing individual ideas and creativity. The music can in some ways be said to have become caught in a trap and its development slowed.


  1. Has there been anything lost in translating the poetry into English?


We have not translated any Urdu poetry – this will be sung in its original form and the English poetry that is include in the play will not be sung but recited. So there is a wonderful combination in the play of English and traditional Indian/Urdu ghazals and music.  We are trying to get the translations of the Urdu across through the dialogue and other means such as programme notes. I have chosen appropriate verses by great poets of the period such as, Mir Taqi Mir, Daag Dehlvi and Jigar Moradabadi, and set them to traditional music.


  1. How will the story appeal to audiences who don’t know the story of Umrao Jaan or aren’t familiar with the Mughal period?


Firstly the play is in English and it is produced using great lighting and sets. Of course there are very traditional aspects like the costumes, music and dance but it will still appeal to audiences across society. I have found over the many years that I have been producing traditional Indian music concerts that there is a genuine and great interes all over the world in Indian music – provided it is of a high standard.


Secondly I have created a music ensemble which includes a sitar, tabla and of course, a sarangi which was always closely associated with the courtesan tradition. The final twist to the music is that I have also included a rubab from Afghanistan – an instrument which would have been more prevalent than the sitar in the 19th century.


Finally the story is an age old one and features in many other cultures, even in Japanese culture with its “geisha” tradition.  The story will not be difficult to follow as fundamentally, it is about resilience to adversity, dignity, strength acquired through art, and its unique connection with spirituality.


  1. The courtesans of Mughal times were highly educated and of many talents. So why are they now associated with sexual services?


Conservative thinking in India has been around for a long time and is not at all new. This was one of the reasons for the downfall of the tawa’if culture. Ignorance is another. Yet in the 19th century, elite society sent their children to be educated by the courtesans in etiquette, literature, music and dance. It’s interesting that today male ghazal singers have become so popular – they can perform at concerts, soirees and “mehfils” without attracting any stigma! As soon as you get a female singer, then people immediately associate that with the darker side of that culture which was probably the creation of men anyway and also not necessarily the reality.


  1. The play is performing in London before having a long run at the Edinburgh Festival. Do you plan to tour the play around the country after this? Or even outside of the UK?


We have had a lot of interest in the production, not only from the UK but also from

Mainland Europe, USA and the Far East.  I want to see how we do in the first stage in the smaller venues in London and Edinburgh and then develop the idea further for production on tour next year and beyond. The nature of events at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is such that our play has to be restricted to 80 minutes without an interval. However next year we hope to be in larger venues with a longer production.


  1. Umrao – The Noble Courtesan is part of a series of events including an exhibition and three concerts. What sparked your interest in the Mughal period and more specifically, courtesan culture? It is important to know that the courtesan tradition preceded the Mughals in the Hindu temples especially in South India. The women were called Devdasis. The art and culture of the courtesans flourished in the royal courts in the North but in the South, it was the temples. What I wanted to focus on was the art forms that the women performed and excelled in, namely dance, poetry and of course music. It was their art that enabled them to rise above the darker side of their lives and in many cases to leave that way of life altogether.
    However, over time, these traditions were starting to get lost and as a result, knowledge of that way of life associated with the poetry and music and dance was getting lost. I wanted to bring it back to people’s attention, especially young Asians who have little or no idea about all of this. I came up with the concept of Lost Traditions, which is made up of three distinct parts; a play, an exhibition called Tawa’if – The Life and Art of the Courtesans (featuring some of the original recordings and images of the first female performers) and three ghazal, thumri and qawali concerts at Cadogan Hall.


When you listen to the music and the fantastic skills of the musicians performing the great traditional genres of Indian music, you will understand my love and fascination for the subject!


Umrao – The Noble Courtesan will open on Wednesday 22nd July through to Friday 24th July 2015 at The Cockpit, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London,NW8  8EH and Edinburgh Fringe Festival  6th August till 31st August  2015  at George Square Studio One, George Square and Windmill Lane, Edinburgh EH8 9JS.


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The talented Pakistani Actress, Mahira Khan who has been recently signed by Shah Rukh Khan in the upcoming film Raees, will also be seen in Pakistan’s most anticipated feature film Bin Roye which is all set to release on EID with Salman Khan’s Bhajrangi Bhaijaan!!
The movie also stars Armeena Rana Khan and the evergreen Humayun Saeed in lead roles. Bin Roye, a Shahzad Kashmiri and Momina Duraid directorial, is a saga of obsession in love that develops jealousy and rivalry between two girls for one perfect match. It is a story that can be best described as a tragic beauty.
Bin Roye was already shot in Pakistan before she bagged her role for Raees, and Mahira Khan is all set to charm her Pakistani audience this Eid (July 17, 2015)!
Bin Roye-an epic tale of love and hate. The story is based on Saba’s (Mahira Khan)  unconditional love for Irtaza ( Humayun Saeed), who is the center of her universe. This perfect world of hers is completely offset when Irtaza leaves for his higher education to the US. Here he meets the girl of his dreams and decides to marry her. Saba’s nemesis is her very own sister, Saman (Armeena Rana Khan) who had been adopted by her aunty and uncle at birth. With her fairy tale world distraught Saba turns bitter and cold. Bin Roye take its viewers through a play of fate, marriages, betrayals and death. Will there be a happy ending for  for Saba and Irtaza or have their paths split forever.
Starring: Humayun Saeed , Mahira Khan , Armeena Rana Khan ,Javed Sheikh,Zeba Bakhtiyar, Azra Mansoor, Junaid Khan
Genre: Romance, Social ,
Directed by: Shahzad Kashmiri & Momina Duraid, DOP : Farhan Alam
Produced By: HUM FILMS

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The critically acclaimed five star West End production, Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical,opened to a packed house last night at London’s Phoenix Theatre Amongst the audience were familiar faces including Omid Djalili, Naughty boy, Madhu & Sulaiman from Signature, Anita Anand, Nihal, Adil Ray, Vanessa Feltz, Graham Norton, Juliet Stevenson, Lily Collins, Indira Verma and Manish Bhasin.

Adapted by Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges from the 2002 smash hit film of the same name, Bend it Like Beckham: The Musical follows Jess, a talented young football player torn between following in the footsteps of her hero David Beckham, or living up to family expectations of university, career and marriage.
The diverse and talented cast of the musical includes Natalie Dew as football crazy Jess with Lauren Samuels as Jules, a player with the Harriers, a local women’s football team, and Jamie Campbell Bower as their coach Joe. Sophie-Louise Dann plays Paula, Jules’s Mum, with Jamal Andréas as Jess’ good friend Tony.  Preeya Kalidas plays Pinky, Jess’ sister, with Tony Jayawardena and Natasha Jayetileke as Jess’ parents, Mr and Mrs Bhamra.
Speaking on the musical’s mass appeal director Gurinder Chadha said: ‘At its core Bend It like Beckham is a story about finding your place in the world whilst remaining true to yourself and those you love. I think that is something that crosses any and all cultural and racial lines.”
Bend it like Beckham now playing at the Phoenix Theatre, taking bookings until October 2015.

Scored by Howard Goodall (Love Story, The Hired Man) with the collaboration of pioneer of the British Bhangra sound, composer and performer Kuljit Bhamra and lyrics by Charles Hart (Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Love Never Dies), the music of Bend It Like Beckham is an East-West fusion of Bhangra and soaring joyous melodies. Gurinder Chadha once again takes the helm as director, with choreography and musical staging by Aletta Collins (Anna Nicole).

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Asha Bhosle has been declared the greatest Bollywood playback singer of all time by UK based Eastern Eye newspaper. The legendary singer beat off tough competition from the past 85 years including elder sister Lata Mangeshkar in a first of its kind list that takes into account factors including number of songs, honours, international impact, versatility, fan base and popularity amongst fellow music industry professionals. The evergreen 81-year-old was taken by surprise with the news of her topping the list. “I thought being called the greatest was the prerogative of boxer Muhammad Ali. I thank Eastern Eye and everyone for tolerating me all these years,” said Asha.
Whilst Lata Mangeshkar came second in the list of talented singers, Mohd Rafi came third and Kishore Kumar was fourth. Other names who featured in the top 20 included Mukesh (5), current Bollywood music queen Shreya Ghoshal (7), Geeta Dutt (10), Sonu Nigam (14), Kumar Sanu (17) and Kavita Krishnamurthy (19). Eastern Eye entertainment editor Asjad Nazir, who compiled the list thinks Asha was a deserved choice to top the list. “Apart from being the most prolific singer the world has ever known, Asha’s versatility has given her the widest body of work. An incredible career stretching across eight decades has seen the record-breaking singer take Bollywood music across new frontiers and with Brimful Of Asha had a globally successful chart-topping song dedicated to her,” said Asjad.
UK based singer Rita Morar who voted for Asha Bhosle to top the list described her as a phenomenon for what she has shared with the world musically. “Not only has she shown her versatility through songs like Piya Tu, Duniya Mein, Jaiye Aap Kaha and Dil Cheez Kya Hai, she has broken barriers of music genres and kept her power of emotion and energy in her music. That to me as an female artist is pure inspiration and encouraging,” said Rita Morar.
Rapper Swami Baracus said that Lata Mangeshkar had the bigger status, but Asha has been the greater singer. “The diverse range in Asha-ji’s voice gives her the vocal edge, but what really sets her apart is her versatility. High-profile International collaborations including Boy George, REM’s Michael Stipe, Kronos Quartet and even Australian cricketer Brett Lee have showcased her global appeal. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is something I’ve always adhered to musically, and Ashaji has been a true component of that on a global scale,” said Swami Baracus.

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