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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 15:02 GMT
Delight and sadness at stars' engagement
By Monica Chadha
BBC News, Mumbai

Aishwarya Rai
Not everyone has been gripped by the impending nuptials
A small clutch of diehard fans stand outside Abhishek Bachchan's bungalow in the Juhu area of India's film capital, Mumbai (Bombay).

The news of his engagement to former Miss World and leading Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai has triggered a contrasting range of emotions.

Some are elated, some are depressed.

For the overwhelming majority in Mumbai, life continued as normal with more important things to think about, such as getting to work on time.

Most of the Indian media are in the "elated" category of respondents, giving the story saturation coverage.

'Made for each other'

And judging by the reaction of most fans outside Abhishek's house, the media cannot provide enough online and newspaper space, or enough air time.

"Their engagement happened late but it is great that they have decided to get married. Nothing can be better than this for them both," said D Dubey.

Another fan, Kamlesh Shah from Baroda, told the BBC that the couple were made for each other.

"One is a former Miss World, while Abhishek is Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan's son, so both are high profile and suited for each other."

Amitabh Bachchan
The 'Big B' has welcomed the engagement

The fans congregated outside Abhishek's house even though they were well aware that he is currently away filming in the western state of Rajasthan.

But not everyone is overjoyed at the impending nuptials.

Many young girls and women seemed rather upset by Bachchan junior's decision to take the plunge.

College student and ardent fan Khushboo said he should not be getting married so soon.

"I don't like Aishwarya Rai and I don't like their pairing. Abhishek is so good, he should remain a bachelor for sometime as his career is just taking off. I also think he should marry someone younger, he can get a more beautiful woman than Aishwarya!"

'Delighted'

One man who has no doubts about the marriage is Abhishek's famous father Amitabh.

"I was the first person he called once the engagement had been made," he told the CNN IBN television station.

"I am really happy and delighted for them."

Mr Bachchan said that a date for the marriage had not yet been agreed, because many of Aishwarya's family members are away.

Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan
There has been frenzied speculation in the Indian media

There is now speculation that Aishwarya Rai may give up her career after marriage, but Bollywood expert Komal Nahta rubbishes this suggestion.

"I don't think she will give up acting, she will continue to pursue her career as Aishwarya Bachchan."

Mr Nahta said he believed this was the case even though Aishwarya has not signed contracts for many films in recent months, and has few new releases.

He points out that the pair have however started the year with the release of of a new film, called Guru.

Based on the life of a textile industrialist who works his way up despite the odds, it has Abhishek playing the lead role with Aishwarya Rai opposite him.

While the film had a good start on the weekend, Mr Nahta said that audiences fell on Monday.

In fact, the pair have starred in several films together but most of them have bombed at the box office.




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