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Bollywood to bond with 007

While former Miss World Aishwarya Rai is the most preferred choice, three other beauties — former Miss World Priyanka Chopra, former Miss Universe Lara Dutta and actress Preity Zinta — are also in the race to become the first Indian to star as a Bond girl.

Recognising the Bollywood boom all over the world, Bond movies producer Barbara Broccoli has reportedly decided to cast a famous Bollywood star in her next film that will ensure a cinema audience not just in Asia, but across all cultural divides, The Observer reported today.

Rai’s agent, Hari Singh, said last night that ‘‘everything has to be kept confidential at the moment, but of course it’s exciting for her. Agents have been flying in to see her about Bond. They wanted to find out if she is available and willing. She is’’.

The Mail today described Rai as a combination of Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Even Hollywood screen goddesses, who have seen Rai, testify to her beauty. Julia Roberts acknowledges: ‘‘She is the most beautiful woman in the world.’’

Of late, casting agents working on the new film for the Pinewood-based Bond film company, Eon Productions, have been travelling around India to meet and watch rival talents at work.

Casting directors will be looking at the work of other leading Bollywood actresses, including Priyanka Chopra, who recently starred in the film Andaaz, with yet another contender and model-turned actress Lara Dutta, making the competition intense.

Sunny Deol’s co-star in the film The Hero, Preity Zinta, is also said to have caught the eye of the western producers.

Other contenders for the role of Bond’s girl include British singer Sophie Ellis Bextor, who was hotly tipped for a part last time around.

Rai’s visit to Britain for discussions has been delayed due a freak accident on the set of her latest film — Rajkumar Santoshi’s Khaki.

The latest Bond film is due to start this summer in prompt succession to Die Another Day, which was released last November and earned more than 400 million pounds at the international box office. The film has beaten The World is Not Enough by more than 40 million pounds.

Keen to capitalise on the moment, Eon Productions, has secured the services of their 49-year-old Irish leading man, Pierce Brosnan, from August and booked the sound stages at Pinewood Studios from the end of the year.

(Press Trust Of India 13/04/2003)