Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 : Year of Hollywood's tryst with India

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Before India could discover Hollywood, the latter seems to be discovering India.

Perhaps never had so many Hollywood stars come to India as in the year 2006. In the month of February, Hollywood actor Will Smith came to India on a five-day trip during which he launched Sony Television's movie channel called Pix, went on sightseeing and spent quality time with many stars of Indian film industry.

Smith got "amazing hospitality" from Bollywood stars like Fardeen Khan, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan. He even presented the Best Actress award to Rani Mukherjee at an award function. Before leaving India, Smith had a long one-on-one meeting with none other than Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai over a prospect of working together in a movie.

"I really feel there is a marriage to be made between Hollywood and Bollywood," Smith had told reporters before leaving back for home.

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In the same month of February, we heard of Britney Spears offering prayers at a Hindu Temple in Malibu. With her forehead smeared with vermillion, Spears and her then four-month-old son Sean Preston prayed and sat through elaborate rituals during the religious ceremony.
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And then in the month of May, Oscar Winning actress Hilary Swank made a hush-hush visit to India's northern state, Himachal Pradesh, for a trip managed by NGO named Indian Development and Exchange. Hilary stayed for nearly two weeks at a lodge near Nari Niketan, close to Palampur. During her stay she taught little children, read spiritual books, learned the art of yoga under the guidance of a guru and also practiced meditation. Hilary also made low-key trips to Dharmshala (the seat of Dalai Lama in India), McLeodganj and Baijnath.

Fardeen Khan However, the most high profile visit to India was by Brad Pitt, his partner Angelina Jolie and their three kids. The Hollywood couple flew down to Pune in October to shoot for movie 'A Mighty Heart' which is produced by Pitt's company (Plan B) and stars Jolie as the wife and widow of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl who was slain by terrorists in Pakistan.

During their month-long stay in India, Jolie mostly kept busy with her shooting, while Pitt visited Jaipur and Varanasi and also helped building new houses in Lonavala. Jolie, on the other hand, enjoyed the ride in Mumbai trains.

But a little unsavoury incident at the fag end of their stay in India led to a controversy when Jolie's bodyguards were alleged to have made racial remarks against Indians and Muslims while the movie was being shot at a school in Mumbai. Pitt, however, denied in a TV interview that any such remarks were made by the bodyguards.

Before leaving, Pitt did say that he was "mesmerized" by India and will come back again.

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Then, in the month of December, reports started coming that Adrien Brody, another Oscar winner, was in Rajasthan to shoot for director Wes Anderson's movie 'The Darjeeling Limited'. He was reportedly accompanied by Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman.
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On the flip side, Indian stars Randeep Hooda and Sushmita Sen went to New York early this year for filmmaker Manish Gupta's movie Karma Confessions and Holy that co-stars Naomi Campbell and Drena De Niro.
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Similarly, Aishwarya Rai shot for Doug Lefler's movie The Last Legion in which she stars with Hollywood stalwart Ben Kingsley and Colin Firth.

All in all, 2006 was a year when actors and artists from the world's two largest film-producing industries collaborated more than they did any time in the past.

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