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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 October 2007, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Aishwarya Rai to act in Taj film
Aishwarya Rai
Rai will play the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan
Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai is set to star in a major film about the Taj Mahal, India's famous monument to love.

Rai, 33, will play the role of Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who built the stunning monument for her.

Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley, who will also be producing the $30m film, will play Shah Jahan.

Rai, a former Miss World, is one of Bollywood's top stars and is hugely popular in her native India.

'She is special'

The as yet untitled film will be produced by Sir Ben and is scheduled to be shot in India in 2008, Rai's foreign agent Simone Sheffield told the BBC News website.

The director of the film has not yet been chosen and the script has yet to be completed, Ms Sheffield said.

Bipasha Basu
Former model Bipasha Basu will also act in the Taj film

Another Bollywood actress and former model, Bipasha Basu, will be playing the role of Shah Jahan's daughter, Jahanara.

Ms Sheffield said Sir Ben had met Basu while co-hosting the Seven New Wonders of the World event in Lisbon in July, where they had discussed the role.

Rai, 33, is presently filming Pink Panther 2, starring Steve Martin, Andy Garcia, Jean Reno and John Cleese, in Boston.

She has worked in international projects with mixed results. In 2005, she appeared in the British romantic comedy Bride and Prejudice; and she also starred in Provoked, a film based on the autobiography of a victim of domestic abuse, who was convicted of the murder of her husband.

Ms Sheffield said Rai was "considering two other [international] films" for next spring.

"She is special because she can play different ages and ethnicities. Because of this, many producers and directors think of her in a wide range of roles," she said.

Rai has been featured on the cover of Time magazine as Bollywood's leading lady and has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman.

Earlier this year, she married fellow star Abhishek Bachchan, son of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

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