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Mumbai, April 14 -- Sonakshi Sinha is one of the busiest Bollywood actors.    But that hasn't stopped her from taking up a Tamil film opposite south superstar Rajinikanth; the 27-year-old is set to start shooting in May-June. In a recent interview, she insisted she is looking to challenge herself as an actor with this project.    

Who's doing what? Sonakshi isn't alone. A number of other Bollywood actors also seem keen on doing regional films.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has decided to make her comeback with Mani Ratnam's next - a Tamil-Telugu bilingual.    Also starring Telugu stars Mahesh Babu and Nagarjuna, the film will be an espionage thriller that will go on the floors in July-August.    

Deepika Padukone, meanwhile, will also be seen with Rajinikanth in his daughter Soundarya's upcoming Tamil motion-capture 3D period film. Also, Sushmita Sen will be seen in a Bengali film, Jodi Emon Hoto, to be helmed by Rupali Guha, daughter of acclaimed director Basu Chatterjee.    

Salman Khan's discovery, Zarine Khan, has also shot for a Punjabi film, Jatt James Bond, which has been directed by Rohit Jugraj, who last directed the 2008 dud, Superstar.    

Salman himself will make a special appearance in Riteish Deshmukh's second Marathi production, Lai Bhaari. The film will also mark Riteish's debut as an actor in Marathi films.    ...and why are they doing it?

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels that actors making the move are looking for "something exciting and challenging, regardless of the film's language".

Adman Prahlad Kakkar says a bunch of good, recent regional films is causing the switch: "It started with a few directors who have made some superb films. Regional cinema is no longer Bollywood's poor cousin. Plus, the advent of multiplexes has helped provide visibility and money."

Film-maker Sanjay Gupta, however, reckons actors are doing regional films because of their personal equations.    "Salman won't say no to Riteish. As for Sonakshi and Aishwarya's films, who wouldn't want to work with Rajinikanth and Mani Ratnam?" says Gupta.

Producer Ramesh Taurani adds, "The piracy problem isn't a menace down south, so they make a lot of money and pay actors well. Since their stars are so huge, heroines generally don't have much to do in their films. So it (wrapping projects) is faster," says Taurani.