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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Bollywood came to London on Wednesday as Indian cinema's star couple, husband and wife Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, hit the red carpet for the world premiere of the Hindi film "Raavan."
Hundreds of screaming fans lined the red carpet at the British Film Institute with the two screen stars fully appreciating the enthusiasm and growing international popularity of Bollywood movies under a new genre of filmmakers.
"It's wonderful. Look at the reception we've got. We are feeling on top of the world and so happy that we came to London to premiere the film," Bachchan, 34, told Reuters Television.
In the film Aishwarya Rai, 36, a former Miss World, plays a dancer and wife of a police inspector who is abducted by a ruthless bandit (Bachchan) and held hostage at his jungle hide-out.
The actors performed their own stunts in the film but Aishwarya Rai said the production was as taxing emotionally and creatively as it was physically. Two versions of the movie were filmed back to back - one in Hindi and one in Tamil.
"We talk about how hard it was physically but, that apart, it was creatively challenging for all of us and that's the kind of challenge actors enjoy. So we truly cherished this entire experience," she said.
Also attending the world premiere to lend some family support were Bachchan's parents, the legends of Bollywood cinema Amitabh Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bhaduri.
"I've never seen anything like this before and it just shows the love and affection that people outside of India have for our films," said Bachchan Snr..
The film also stars Tamil actor Vikram in his Bollywood debut as the police inspector. The actor said he hopes to make a mark with a new audience.
The Mumbai film industry, home to Bollywood, has been the face of commercial Indian cinema for several decades, relegating non-Hindi films to the sidelines.
"This is my first Hindi film so I'm very excited because I'm going to get a totally new audience that kind of gave me a thrill," he said.
A boost in investment in the Bollywood film industry in recent years and a new breed of filmmakers has seen Indian movies receiving much wider global distribution.
Last May the Bollywood film "Kites" had the widest ever release for any film production to date.
Director Mani Ratnam, who is to be honoured with the "Glory to the Filmmaker" award at the next Venice Film Festival, said Bollywood films had become popular in Britain first but this interest was now spreading in Europe and North America.
"I think the UK has always been open to Indian films and is getting more and more so now. It becomes a platform where we can showcase (our movies) to the rest of the world," he said.
"Raavan" opens in British cinemas on June 18.
Reporting by Reuters Television, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith