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Hollywood invites Bollywood

Friday, July 13, 2007
First it was Mallika Sherawat for Unveiled, then Akshay Kumar was taken for Australian Bandstand and now Salman Khan's Marigold is ready for release - the West appears to be increasingly welcoming Bollywood stars.

These films will not feature Indian actors in character roles or blink-and-you-miss-it-parts as in the past, but as the main protagonists.

Akshay, who will star with British actress Rachel Weisz in Australian Bandstand is also expected to romance Mexican beauty Salma Hayek in a joint production of Hollywood Studios International and India's Carving Dreams Entertainment.

Big or small, there is no dearth of offers from the West for Bollywood actors who are getting good opportunities to rub shoulders with veterans from Hollywood.

Superstar Amitabh Bachchan was recently offered an important role in Ridley Scott's thriller Body Of Lies, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. But the Bollywood icon hasn't yet given the green signal.
On the other hand, Mallika's Unveiled is the story of a Muslim woman who has two husbands and one lover. Then there is Los-Angeles based producer Uru Patel's ambitious project Hanuman that is getting bigger by the day.

Patel has roped in Hollywood director Luis Mendoki to direct the movie, where Keanu Reeves is paired with Shilpa Shetty as Lord Rama and his wife Sita. Indian actor Aseem Merchant will play Rama's younger brother Laxman.

All these projects are in a nascent stage but Salman Khan's international project Marigold, directed by Willard Carroll, is ready to hit screens. In the love story, the Bollywood hunk is paired with Ali Larter.

British filmmaker Danny Boyle, who has made acclaimed docudramas such as Trainspotting and Shallow Graves, visited Mumbai last month to adapt Vikas Swaroop's satire on consumerism entitled 'Q&A'.

Swaroop's bestseller is about a young Mumbaikar who wins a fortune on a 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' styled game show. Boyle has roped in Mera Pehla Pehla Pyar star Ruslaan Muntaaz to play the lead role of Ram Mohammad Thomas.

And the list does not end there. Bollywood actor-director Satish Kaushik is the leading man in a British film Seven Seas based on the bestseller Brick Lane by Bangladesh-origin author Monica Ali.

"It is a big achievement for me because nobody has been offered a lead role in Hollywood films except Om Puri. He played the main lead in East is East," said Kaushik.

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