Bollywood crosses ocean for Toronto premiere

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Bollywood's Guru

Last week, Toronto made history by becoming the first North American city to host a Bollywood film world premiere.

Director Mani Ratnam, known for his politically conscious and revolutionary movies, presented his latest film, Guru, at Elgin Theatre Thursday night. Guru tells the rags-to-riches story of the fictional Gurukant Desai, a leading Indian industrialist who revolutionized the country’s business.

Dedicated fans lined Yonge Street and the inside of the Elgin Theatre anxiously waiting to glimpse the film’s stars, who were fashionably two hours late.

The majority of the film’s A-list cast and crew attended the premiere, including star Abhishek Bachchan, one of India’s hottest rising actors and son of film legend Amitabh Bachchan. Bachchan was accompanied by his leading lady " onscreen and off " Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World and one of Bollywood’s biggest stars.

Newcomer and supporting actor R. Madhavan expressed humility and sincerity toward the media. When asked about Toronto, he shyly admitted he found it cold.

A. R. Rehman, Guru’s musical director and producer for Broadway’s The Lord of the Rings and Bombay Dreams, also attended the premiere. For a man whose music is so powerful and critically acclaimed, Rehman’s quiet demeanor left him surprisingly inconspicuous.

Mayor David Miller, also in attendance, emphasized Toronto’s growing importance as a film centre and was proud to acknowledge Canada’s growing South Asian population.

With producer Roger Nair at the forefront, Bollywood’s North American transition is becoming increasingly prominent. Although only a fraction of Canadians realizes this premiere’s magnitude, Bollywood’s over two billion viewers likely regard it as a significant step for the Indian film industry, which is larger and more prolific than Hollywood worldwide but remains largely unacknowledged in North America.

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