Bollywood enters New Year with many global milestones!

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By Arpana

New Delhi, Jan 1 (IANS) Three Oscars, collaborations with Hollywood studios, a doctorate for Shah Rukh Khan and many more - the Indian entertainment industry made its mark on the global arena in 2009. Now it is set to move forward with international projects like "Kites" and "My Name Is Khan" and Grammy nominations for A.R. Rahman and Amjad Ali Khan.

In the New Year, Bollywood is hoping to hit the bull's eye on the global front with two much-talked-about films -- "Kites" and "My Name Is Khan".

Described as a truly international film, "Kites" tells the story of a young con-man who lives life in Las Vegas, always ready to make fast money in any way possible, always looking for the big score.

Directed by Anurag Basu and co-produced by Rakesh Roshan and Reliance BIG Pictures, it stars Hrithik Roshan along with Mexican beauty Barbara Mori, Kangana Ranaut and Kabir Bedi. The film will be released in two versions -- Indian and international.

Hopes are high from "Kites" as its international version is being edited by Brett Ratner, best known for the "Rush Hour" series and for "Family Man". He is currently at work on the English version of "Kites" and is tailoring it to appeal to an international audience.

The Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol film on terrorism, "My Name Is Khan", has been selected to screen at the 60th annual Berlin International Film Festival. Directed by Karan Johar, the film has been acquired by Fox Star for a reported $20 million.

Fox Star has also signed a two-film deal each with Vipul Shah and A.R. Murugadoss.

Paul Schrader of "Taxi Driver" fame is making "Xtreme City" on Mumbai slums and mafia in collaboration with Bollywood director Anubhav Sinha and writer Mushtaq Sheikh.

Reliance BIG Pictures has inked deals with Nicolas Cage's Saturn Films, Jim Carrey's JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney's Smokehouse Productions, Chris Columbus' 1492 Pictures, Tom Hanks' Playtone Productions, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment, Jay Roach's Everyman Pictures, Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment, Julia Roberts' Red Om Films and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment to develop scripts.

All eyes are on Rahman again this year as he has two nominations at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards for his song "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire". There is another nomination for Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan in the best traditional world music album category.

India is also looking forward to winning another Oscar with Marathi "Harishchandrachi Factory", the country's official entry for the academy awards.

All this stands on the successes of 2009, which started with A.R. Rahman, Resul Pookutty and Gulzar winning Oscars for their work in British director Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire".

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan got an honorary doctorate in arts and culture from the University of Bedfordshire in Britain. He also won a black belt honour in Taekwondo from the South Korean government. Later he was declared amongst the 500 most influential Muslims around by Georgetown University in the US.

Another global achievement came when Akshay Kumar was awarded the highest Japanese honour of Katana and a sixth degree black belt in Kuyukai Gojuryu Karate. He also became one among the 15 international celebrities invited to carry the torch for this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

Global spotlight shifted to India when Aishwarya Rai featured as Sophie Solandres in Hollywood film "Pink Panther 2" with Steve Martin. She consolidated her international presence with her second stint on "Oprah Winfrey's Talk Show" along with husband Abhishek Bachchan. She also made an appearance on "The Tyra Banks Show".

Bollywood's oomph girl Mallika Sherawat too made the country proud when she became the first Hindi film star to be honoured with her own milk shake at Hollywood hotspot 'Millions of Milkshakes'.

Indian business tycoon Anil Ambani inked a deal with American filmmaking icon Steven Spielberg in an effort to bridge Hollywood and Bollywood. Under the deal, Ambani's Reliance BIG Entertainment will provide $825-million funding for Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks Studios to make six films a year for global audiences.

In the fashion world too recognition came when former Miss World and actress Priyanka Chopra was invited to judge the Miss World 2009 pageant.

India's nightingale Lata Mangeshkar was conferred France's highest civilian award, the Insignia of Officier de la Legion d'Honneur.

(Arpana can be contacted at [email protected])