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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
Screen star hails India's film success
Amitabh Bachchan celebrates Indian culture
Bachchan (top left) is supporting summer Bollywood events
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has praised the growing global popularity of Indian movies.

Bachchan, star of more than 100 films and once dubbed the "most famous actor of the millennium" by BBC News Online readers, was speaking in London on Thursday.

He flew to the UK earlier in the week to promote and lend his support to events celebrating Indian cinema.

They include two live Bollywood outdoor shows this summer and a month of celebrations at the London store Selfridges.

Amitabh Bachchan
Bachchan is now a worldwide celebrity

"I think this is a great moment for Indian cinema, Indian cinema has been making headlines all over the world recently," Bachchan said at the launch of the store's Bollywood extravaganza.

Bachchan has been a huge star in his home country for more than 30 years.

He made his name in the 1970s and 1980s as an action hero, a swashbuckling star of Hindi films.

More recently, his fame has spread around the world with the wider recognition of Indian films.

And he was also the narrator for this year's Oscar-nominated movie Lagaan.

'Quality'

Bachchan he thought Bollywood movies adapted to suit current tastes in film.

"Bollywood is very much of the moment. We went through years - the 1990s - with a lot of minimalism and in Bollywood anything goes," he said.

Although excited by the growing status of his industry abroad, Bachchan stressed that Indian film-makers should not compromise their cultural roots to cater for foreign tastes.

"Indian cinema has a quality that is catering to a billion people within Indian shores - that's one sixth of the population of the world," he said.

Poster for the movie Lagaan
Lagaan was one of 2002's Oscar nominees

"I would rather that audiences outside accepted our form rather than we changed our form for them," he added.

However, there is no sense that audiences want Bachchan to change, especially in the UK.

As well as topping BBC News Online's poll in 2000, Madame Tussaud's in London considers Bachchan - also the host of India's version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? - worthy of his own waxwork likeness.

And he has been chosen as a star attraction of this summer's live outdoor Bollywood shows in Manchester and London.

Bachchan will join other Indian film stars Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Preity Zinta for the From India With Love shows in June.

Each will be a three-hour showcase of dance and music, with lavish costumery, to be seen by up to 115,000 people.

See also:

15 Jul 99 | South Asia
Bollywood superstar 'surprised' by vote
06 Apr 02 | Film
Lagaan scoops Bollywood awards
21 Mar 02 | Film
Bollywood goes on display
06 Feb 02 | Film
Bollywood goes to LA
20 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Wax debut for Bollywood star
01 Jul 99 | Entertainment
Bollywood star tops the poll
31 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Indian cinemas are Millionaire losers
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