India on hot list of Hollywood celebs!

juliaroberts.jpg

New Delhi, Sep 23 (IANS) India seems to have become a hot destination for Hollywood stars, and Oscar winner Julia Roberts is the latest in a long line of big time foreign film celebrities coming here to shoot or do social work or just chill out.

In the last five years, top actors like Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Gerard Butler and Richard Gere have been here.

This is Pretty Woman's second visit to India. In January this year, she was here to do some sightseeing with husband Danny Moder.

Right now, Roberts is shooting for director Ryan Murphy's film "Eat, Love, Pray" at Ashram Hari Mandir in Pataudi, 40 km away. She is shooting the India scenes of the film, which is based on author Elizabeth Gilbert's memoirs.

In the movie, Roberts as Gilbert who travels to Italy, India and Indonesia is in search of peace.

Other Hollywood stars who have visited India this year include Gerard Butler, known for his portrayal of King Leonidas in "300, The Phantom".

The Scottish actor visited India in May and to spend time with multi-Oscar winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" child stars whom he had first met while attending the Oscars earlier this year. He also did some sightseeing and scouted for the right location.

While he was here, rumours were rife that Butler was interested in Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra who reportedly threw a farewell party for him.

"I'd love to date an Indian girl," he said. When asked about his friendship with Priyanka, he said: "I would've dated her but she has a boyfriend."

In the same month, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman was in Udaipur to shoot for an ad film directed by Shekhar Kapur. Kidman stayed at Udaipur's Lake Palace Hotel.

In June 2008, Hollywood superstar Michael Douglas was in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan with actress wife Catherine Zeta-Jones to film "Racing the Monsoon", an action adventure movie that tells the story of a diamond heist that takes place on board an Indian train. Apart from Jaisalmer, the film was shot in Mumbai and Kolkata.

The movie also stars "Bourne Identity" star Matt Damon.

In the same year, pop icon Madonna visited Udaipur, popularly known as the City of Lakes in Rajasthan. The singer-actress was on a weeklong holiday along with her ex-husband and filmmaker Guy Ritchie, son David Banda and a few close friends.

"Rolling Stones" frontman Mick Jagger too visited Rajasthan in 2008 with daughter Jade. He stayed at Hotel Rambagh Palace while in Jaipur.

In February 2007, Ralph Fiennes, who is a Unicef ambassador, was on a five-day trip to rural Maharashtra investigating the impact of HIV and AIDS. While in India, "The English Patient" star visited Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan at his residence Jalsa in Mumbai.

His visit was followed by Ashley Judd in March. She visited Mumbai's red light area of Kamathipura and spent the whole day with sex workers. Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen accompanied her.

Close on the heels of Judd came Richard Gere. He scorched the headlines after kissing actress Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness rally here.

In the same year, Elizabeth Hurley chose Udaipur for her lavish wedding with NRI tycoon Arun Nayar.

A year before that, Will Smith came to India. On his five-day trip in February 2006, the "Men In Black" star visited Mumbai to launch Sony Television's English-language movie channel called Pix.

He also met Bollywood personalities such as Karan Johar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Subhash Ghai. He also attended a party hosted by actor Fardeen Khan.

"I really feel there is a marriage to be made between Hollywood and Bollywood," Smith had said. He appeared on the popular music-based television show "Indian Idol". Later he visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

In October the same year, Hollywood's high profile couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt visited the country. Both of them parked themselves in Pune to shoot the critically acclaimed film, "Mighty Heart", based on the real life story of American journalist Daniel Pearl who was beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.

Angelina featured as Pearl's wife Mariane along with Dan Futtermann who played the role of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter.

Apart from Hollywood celebrities, some films like "Jungle Book", "Far Pavilions" and "Holy Smoke" too have Indian cities as their backdrop. Also, Adrien Brody starrer "The Darjeeling Limited" was shot in Rajasthan.

-Indo-Asian News Service