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Tinu Verma
Jackie, Suniel, Dino: out to kill Karisma!
On the sets of Tinu Verma's Baaz

Ronjita Kulkarni

Stuntmaster Tinu Verma's directorial debut Maa Tujhe Salaam (Sunny Deol, Tabu, Arbaaz Khan) was a disaster at the box-office. Now, Verma is back with Baaz as producer.

The shooting is in full swing in Khandala, a hill-station in Maharashtra. A majestic mansion overlooks the mountains and waterfalls tha t are resplendent of Khandala. The other side of the mansion is in ruins. Not everything is as peaceful as it seems, evidently. Tinu appears tense, as he booms at some of his cameramen on the microphone. He does not recognise them.

Suniel Shetty, sporting a policeman's uniform, sits under a tree, enjoying its shade and the cool breeze. Comedian Raza Khan chats softly with him.

When asked, Suniel says, "I play Harsh Vardhan, a good cop. Baaz is a thriller, in which you doubt every character. I loved the script, as it is very tight and exciting."

Since Baaz is being directed by an action director, the film is fraught with action sequences. "Yesterday, I was required to jump on a springboard, grab Dino [Morea] who was approximately 10 metres away from me and then jump into a pool," says Suniel. "Tinu offered to show me how it was done before I did it. He did not even change his clothes, he simply jumped. Later, he realised his cell phone was still in his pocket! That's how passionate he is about his work."

Today is Suniel's last day of shooting in Khandala. He wants to finish his assignments soon, as he plans to catch the ICC (International Cricket Council) Champions Trophy finals September 29 in Sri Lanka.

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Tinu says, "I devoted six months to pre-production work like music, screenplay, cast, etc. I had a few actresses in mind for the lead role, like Rani Mukherjee, Tabu, Aishwarya Rai, Urmila Matondkar and Karisma Kapoor. I shortlisted Karisma. My next step was to get her dates. Then I made my shooting schedule."

Suniel Shetty Tinu and Suniel had a misunderstanding with each other during the making of Maa Tujhe Salaam. "In spite of that, I wanted to cast only Suniel in Baaz. But I was nervous about asking him myself. So I asked my brother-in-law, Shyam Goel to do the needful. Thankfully, Suniel agreed."

Jackie Shroff arrives on the sets, dressed in black. He plays an obsessive mayor. "Tinu wanted me to work with him since his first film. I was to play the role Tinu played in Maa Tujhe Salaam. But I refused, as I had to interact with dogs --- I'm afraid of dogs," explains Jackie.

The film begins with Preeti Jhangiani being killed. Karisma, who plays an interior decorator, is feared to be the next victim, and the suspects are Jackie Shroff, Suniel Shetty and Dino Morea. Dino plays Karisma's love interest.

The actress, whose next release is the intense emotional drama Shakti -- The Power this Friday, is looking for lighter roles. "I've done too many intense roles, though I'm very proud of them. But now, I want to do happy roles," says the actress who won critical acclaim for her performances in Khalid Mohamed's Fiza and Shyam Benegal's Zubeidaa.

Karisma Kapoor Karisma explains, "My character in Baaz, Neha, gets a job as an interior decorator in Jackie's house set in Nainital. I design this mansion for him."

There is a strange sizzling sound. The exhaust pipe in Karisma's makeup van has caught fire. She jumps up. "Aag lag gayee!" she screams frantically. Then she bursts out laughing.

Much scurrying around by the unit members follow to put off the fire. The unit is ready with their next shot.

The film is scheduled for a December 24 release.


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