Bollywood stars set to kick off world tour

Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:35pm EDT
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By Claire Sibonney

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - The A-list of Bollywood is on a mission -- to take the glitz and glamour of Indian cinema to the rest of the world.

Opening in Toronto on Friday, the Unforgettable Tour is billed as the biggest live Bollywood performance outside the subcontinent, featuring Bollywood's star couple, actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai and her husband, Abhishek Bachchan, father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan and a host of other Indian superstars.

The three-hour singing and dancing extravaganza is to be performed in 11 cities across North America, Europe and the Caribbean between now and August 29 with a cast of 150.

Actress Shilpa Shetty, known to British audiences for her controversial appearance on the reality TV show "Celebrity Big Brother," is set to join the London leg of the tour.

Rai Bachchan, the most recognizable of the stars outside of India, acknowledged that Bollywood is starting to appeal to an international audience, but the tour's goal was not to gain more Western fans.

"The fact that these shows are so welcomed with such enthusiasm and love by the audience in itself reiterates the reach of our cinema, of our film industry, and the way people embrace it," she told a camera-flooded press conference.

While Bollywood produces more movies each year than Hollywood, often topping three hours and featuring extended musical numbers, most of its stars are unknown outside of Asia with Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan household names in India, but struggling for international recognition.

Amitabh Bachchan, dressed in sunglasses, jeans and a black motorcycle jacket, said the tour's purpose is to "just to be with the fans and spend some time with them..."   Continued...

<p>Bollywood actors (L-R) Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan pose after speaking to the media to promote the "Unforgettable" world tour in Toronto July 17, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>