For Bollywood stars, it’s London calling

By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News ServiceimageMumbai, (IANS) Bollywood’s Who’s Who seem to be catching up with one another in London rather than Mumbai. Has London become the hotbed of Bollywood activities?

A few years ago India’s ‘nightingale’ Lata Mangeshkar was on her annual holiday to London and guess whom she bumped into? Her sister.

“I was out shopping when I met Asha,” recalls Lataji.

Strolling on Oxford Street earlier this week, Sammir Dattani bumped into producer J. Murli Manohar. The “Provoked” producer liked what he saw and offered Sammir the lead in his next project.

Recently, Amrita Arora flew down to London to spend time with her buddy Kareena Kapoor who was in that part of the world for her concerts.

“It was a good way to meet up. Here in Mumbai, we hardly get time to meet. Bebo (Kareena) is busy with her films. I’m busy with mine. Yeah, London is a great spot to meet,” said Amrita, whose boyfriend is also London-based.

Flying down to London is a hop and skip away. No wonder so many film units find it convenient to be there.

Akshay Kumar shot for two films – Vipul Shah’s “Namaste London” and Priyadarshan’s “Bhagam-Bhaag” simultaneously in London.

“It’s a great spot to work and play,” said actor Madhavan, who shot producer J. Murli Manohar’s “Ramji Londonwale” in London and returned to Britain recently to lose weight.

Manohar thinks Britain is where a lot of Bollywood action is going to be in the coming months.

“Currently, I’m shooting ‘Sajni’ in Kent, the first Kannada film to be shot in Britain. It introduces my niece Sharmila with Kannada’s pin-up boy Dhyaan. We’re sparing no expenses to make sure the film will be at par with any Hindi film,” Manohar told IANS.

The “Provoked” producer intends to invite top Bollywood stars and filmmakers to work with him and shoot films in London.

On the eve of the release of his latest film “Naksha”, Sunny Deol quietly flew to his favourite vacationing spot – London of course!

“Mumbai kills me, London chills me,” Sunny said. “In Mumbai there’s no space to slacken the working pace. I make sure I come to London as often as I can, though not often enough!”

This time Sunny has more reason to feel relaxed. His younger brother Bobby is in London too. “Bobby is here. But he’s working for Shaad Ali’s ‘Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom’. I’m holidaying,” Sunny said.

“We’re staying in different hotels. But we, of course, meet up. I think this is the first time we’re in a foreign city for different purposes,” laughed Sunny.

It seems almost the entire film industry – well almost – is in London shooting for various films. The units of Ali’s “Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom” and Balakrishnan’s “Cheeni Kam” are all stacked up at the St. James Court at Buckingham, turning the posh hotel into a miniature Bollywood.

Said Abhishek Bachchan: “‘Jhoom Baraabar Jhoom’ is turning into a party. Shaad, Preity, Bobby, Lara and I are having a ball. Karan (Johar) was also here recently.”

Added Karan Johar: “I love London. We shot ‘K3G’ (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham) here and I’m very sentimental about the city. Nowadays you can’t step out on the streets of London without bumping into a film unit from Mumbai.”

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