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B'wood fight AIDS alongside with Miss Univ.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006
New Delhi (UNI): Indian film-makers and actors are to join Miss Universe 2006 Zuleyka Rivera Mendoza this Diwali to bring more light into AIDS awareness in the country. The Puerto Rican will be walking down the ramp in nearly a dozen Indian cities to drive home the message, 'Get Tested (for AIDS), It's in Fashion'. Giving support to the Miss Universe Foundation campaign in the country are a host of Bollywood actors including Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty and Dia Mirza. Also joining in the efforts are Mani Ratnam, his actor-wife Suhasini, Tamil actor Madhavan, Malayalam playback singer K J Yesudas and Malayalam actor Prithviraj. Yesudas, who lit the lamp for the Miss Universe show in Kochi last year, will this time sing for the campaign in the city.

''Zuleyka told me she is excited about visiting India,'' US-based Indian fashion designer Sanjana Jon, who is organising the Miss Universe tour, said in an interview to UNI here. ''She said her visit during Diwali would be an achievement if she could change the life of at least one person in India.'' The official announcement of the India tour, which includes a day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, will be made on September 9 during the New York Fashion Week. The Miss Universe has been properly briefed by her predecessor Russian Natalie Glebova, who visited six cities last year as a global ambassador for the AIDS awareness campaign, according to Jon, who is in India to prepare for the visit that begins in the last week of October.

Goa, which is facing a serious threat from HIV/AIDS, could be one of the new cities the new Miss Universe has on her itinerary along with Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Mendoza, of course, will be following up the campaign by Glebova in New Delhi, Bangalore, Kochi, Mumbai and Chennai last year. Among the Bollywood supporters of Mendoza, actor Salman Khan is ready to tie up with the Miss Universe ''whereever she wants me'', says Jon, who has received assurances from Anil Kapoor, Dia Mirza and Shilpa Shetty about their support ''if they are in India during the Miss Universe tour''.

''Salman reaches out to the masses, including truck drivers. His involvement in the campaign is of utmost value,'' said Jon, who has also tied up with Hollywood director Manoj Night Shyamalan for AIDS awareness in India through the Chennai-based NGO Udacum Kavangal (Helping Hands) of 'Papa' Vidyakar. Mendoza will be the third Miss Universe to tour India for AIDS awareness campaign and the fourth to be associated with the cause in India after Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega Vega and Glebova. Miss Universe 2004 Jennifer Hawkins lent a helping hand to the Indian campaign at a charity show with Shyamalan in New York. If Jon is able to pull it through, Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough would be accompanying Mendoz to India. ''He is very keen to come to India,'' says Jon, whose dream is to transform the Miss Universe campaign in India into the amfAR annual Cinema Against AIDS-like charity at the Cannes film festival attended by world celebrities.

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