Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 10:32 UK

Bollywood's first family hits UK

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Bollywood's biggest names take to the stage

Bollywood comes to Britain this weekend as some of the biggest stars of Indian cinema perform at London's O2 arena.

Though they may be largely unknown to Western film-goers, the stars of India's homegrown movie industry command enormous respect and adulation on their native soil.

One, though, stands head and shoulders above the rest - the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, otherwise known as The Big B.

The star of Sholay, one of the most famous Hindi movies ever made, and former host of India's version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, the 65-year-old has appeared in more than 150 films.

This weekend, though, he can be found in London on the penultimate stop for a touring extravaganza dedicated to Indian cinema.

'Wonderful'

With Bachchan joined by his son Abhishek and his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai, both of whom are massive stars in their own right, the Unforgettable tour offers a rare chance to see Bollywood's first family together.

Abhishek, Aishwarya Rai and Amitabh Bachchan
The Bachchan clan comprise three of Bollywood's biggest stars

"In Mumbai we don't often get the chance to spend time with each other, because of our shooting schedules," admits Bachchan senior.

"So it has been a wonderful experience to travel together, to perform together and to sit and laugh together when the show is over."

"This tour is extremely special because it is my first tour with my husband, the love of my life," agreed Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who married Abhishek Bachchan in April 2007.

"It's very special to have my father-in-law here too. I'm so glad Pa agreed to be a part of this - he is a legend."

"There never will be a tour like this," said Preity Zinta, star of such hits as Salaam Namaste and a former BBC News website columnist.

"Most of the tours I've done have been with my contemporaries. It's a different experience to stand on stage with Mr Bachchan."

"He is the star," agrees his son. "Whenever he's on stage, everybody leaves what they're doing to watch him perform."

Awareness

Since the Unforgettable tour began in July, Bachchan and company have re-enacted songs and scenes from their movies in Canada, the US and Trinidad and Tobago.

Shilpa Shetty
Big Brother star Shilpa Shetty will also appear at the London concert

That they have been greeted by dedicated fans in all three countries is a testament to what Bachchan calls "the resilience of Indian cinema".

"In 1973 I came to do a show in Southall, west London and there were five people in the theatre," he recalls in his distinctive baritone.

"Since then we've matured and grown and huge numbers are coming out to see us."

Given the sizeable carbon footprint the tour is leaving as it travels around the globe, it is perhaps surprising to learn its stated aim is to raise awareness about climate change.

Bachchan, however, said the issue was chosen because "it is a cause that encompasses everyone".

"All of us are victims of global warming," he told reporters in central London in Thursday. "We felt it was something that was universal."

One hopes that the thousands planning to attend his concert on Sunday will use public transport to get there.


SEE ALSO
Sholay tribute fails to impress
06 Sep 07 |  South Asia
Thousands cheer Bollywood stars
10 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Bollywood celebrates star wedding
20 Apr 07 |  South Asia
The changing face of Bollywood
08 Feb 04 |  South Asia

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