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Think Egyptian media and you immediately think of stars like Amr Diab, Adel Imam and Yosra. Think Hollywood and immediately you think of stars like Tom Cruise, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.
Think of Indian movies and it would be no surprise if you did not know the names of all the stars. Instead, you probably think of melodramatic movies with people beating one other up one minute, then singing and dancing together the next.
But recently Bollywood – the name given to the Indian film industry, which is headquartered in Mumbai – has become one of the hottest places for new actors and actresses.
The word “Bollywood” is a mix of the word “Bombay” and “Hollywood”, which of course is name given to the American film industry. There is no special connection between Hollywood in America and Bollywood in India. They operate in different worlds without much overlap in terms of stars, producers or directors, because each has an entirely different audience.
Most Bollywood films would be classified as musicals, because as in Egypt the audience likes music, so very few films fail to feature at least one song-and-dance number. Like Egyptian movies, Bollywood plots tend to be melodramatic, frequently employing plot gimmicks like star-crossed lovers battling their angry parents, love triangles, strained family ties, personal sacrifice, wicked corrupt politicians, kidnappers, conniving villains, reappearing long-lost relatives, siblings separated by fate, dramatic reversals of fortune, and all manner of other convenient coincidences.
Bollywood is not only viewed across the Indian subcontinent; it is also popular throughout much of Southeast Asia, the Middle East and throughout parts of Africa, including Egypt. Western countries with a large number of Indian immigrants, like the UK, USA, Canada and Australia also have a large Bollywood audience.
One of the brightest and most beautiful stars in Bollywood these days, with one of the hottest careers to date is Shilpa Shetty. But who is this Bollywood diva and how did she grow to become so popular worldwide?
Shilpa Shetty has long been a star back home in her native India, but she has been making headline news across the world since winning the massively popular reality TV series Celebrity Big Brother 2007 in the UK. Recently, she has also topped the Fragrance Charts with her perfume “S2” (pronounced S squared) which reached number 3 in the UK Fragrance Charts.
Shilpa is a Gemini and both her parents were models in India. She started her modelling and acting career when she was only 15, but the beginning of her career got off to a rocky start.
Things began to take off with her hit record ‘Churake Dil Mera’, singing opposite her ex-boyfriend Akshay Kumar. This gave Shilpa the new image she had been looking for and from there she went on to take Bollywood by storm. Today she has become one of the hottest stars in Bollywood and is just as widely admired for her 5’10" frame and perfect body as she is for her acting performances.
Her S2 fragrance Shilpa considers to be a “cut above the rest” in the sea of celebrity fragrances. The fruity smell was created by Robertet, one of the oldest French perfumers and it has just been released abroad.
“It is a kaleidoscope of rich florals with a fruity zest, including the scent of Mandarin, Bergamot, Peach, Jasmine, and Sandalwood,” commented Shilpa on her fragrance. The fragrance is a definite challenger for the number one spot among celebrity perfumes, among scents released by Western stars like Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton, all who have also launched their own signature scent.
In 2007, Shilpa Shetty joined Celebrity Big Brother 5 where she was the victim of racial abuse from other celebrity guests in the Big Brother house. Fortunately it all ended happily, when the bullies were shamed and she went on to win the Celebrity Big Brother competition, scoring massive popularity in the UK.
In recent months the actress and model has been busy – she is about to release a new film called ‘Apne’, she is set to launch a cookery book, she is making a DVD video on yoga shot in the Himalayas, she is featuring in a Broadway musical, launching a chain of restaurants abroad starting with one in Central London and she is starring as the character Sita in the forthcoming international movie ‘Hanuman’.
Currently still based in Mumbai, Shilpa is also an AIDS activist and a representative for the organisation PETA India, which campaigns against animal cruelty.
So just as Egypt has the finest movie industry in Africa and the Middle East, and America has Hollywood, in Asia it’s Bollywood which is king!