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NEW DELHI — Tough guys do dance. Hollywood and Bollywood literally shook a leg at the closing session of the Ficci Frames confab Friday in Mumbai, when Hugh Jackman and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan did a jig to a popular Hindi film song after participating in a panel on the Hollywood studio system and the growing impact of Bollywood on global cinema.
During the session, moderated by My Name is Kahn director Karan Johar, the Wolverine star revealed that he was actively seeking roles in Bollywood projects, “I am looking forward to working in Bollywood films. I am meeting directors.”
“I am a huge fan of Shah Rukh Khan and I loved his film My Name is Khan. I want to do a sequel to this film and that will be called My Name is Jackman and I am not a tourist,” Jackman joked in a reference to the My Name Is Khan tag line, “And I am not a terrorist.”
Commenting on the Hollywood studio system, Jackman said, “I have mostly worked with Fox. Some creative people find the studio system intrusive and get very negative. But a studio which is putting in millions of dollars has the right to have a say. Studios are run by smart people. They make 18 to 20 films a year.”
Jackman added that studio heads often advised him on what roles he should be taking and how he should approach a character. When asked about how Bollywood is perceived in Australia, Jackman said, “Bollywood is cool.”
Jackman illustrated this with the example of a scene from his film Australia where Jackman and Nicole Kidman share their first kiss, “And out of nowhere came the instruction that we were to kiss in the rain! I was like ‘Why can’t it be the sun’? And then someone told me about Bollywood movies and the natural props they use to dramatize a scene.”
Khan felt that Hollywood studios setting up base in India could take Indian films to the next level. At the same time, he said it was up to Indian studios like veteran production banner Yash Raj Films to take advantage of the opportunity.
With studios like Fox and Disney coming to India, Jackman also felt the relationship between India and the U.S. will grow as “both are film loving countries.”
But Khan confessed his fears and inability to make it in Hollywood due to his accent and said, “So it’s better that I make films for my people here, and make them and myself happy.” Jackman disagreed and urged him to give Hollywood a shot, “I do not subscribe to your opinion. You are a big and popular star and I am sure you can make it in Hollywood.”
However Khan said that his dream “is to make a Hindi film that is seen globally. I always give the example of Life Is Beautiful. This was a film that was made in Italian, won Oscars and was seen globally.”
Khan also revealed that Jackman’s X-Men series inspired him to make his upcoming sci-fi superhero caper Ra.One that releases in October. “I wanted to do something different for the kids, so I watched all the X-Men movies, cartoons, read comics and honestly the X-Men series inspired me to do Ra.One,” said Khan.
Jackman was accompanied on his India visit by his wife Deborra-Lee Furness, and was also presented with a “Ganesha” memento by top Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. “When I came to know that I will be meeting the most beautiful woman on earth, I actually thought it was my wife,” joked Jackman.
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