Bollywood in bright lights at Berlinale


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BERLIN -- Bollywood burst into Berlin on Friday when Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan arrived to present his latest film, "Om Shanti Om." A crowd of about 100 fans queued outside the Grand Hyatt hotel ahead of Kahn's afternoon news conference, and the actor obliged by signing autographs under the camera flashes.

Kahn -- a mega-star in his native India -- seemed genuinely thrilled to present "Om" as a Berlinale Special title, the highest profile slot yet given to a Bollywood title here. "I've been working for 17 years, and it's the first time I feel like a big movie star," he said.

Tickets for the film's Friday night premiere screening at the International Cinema sold out in seven minutes and were being offered on German eBay for several times their face value ahead of the event. Organizers added an extra screening to meet demand.

"Om" will be released theatrically in Germany next month by Eros International, which is also handling world sales duties on it. The movie will come out on 20 to 30 prints, the biggest release yet for a Bollywood film here. "This gives us the perfect launch for 'Om Shanti Om' in Germany, and I think it will help open up the market in Europe," said Eros CEO and chairman Kishore Lulla.

The Berlinale has been programming occasional Bollywood titles in the Forum sidebar for about a decade. "This is the first time a Bollywood movie has had a gala slot and it's the first time an Indian superstar has come here. I think it's really an uplift," said Stephan Holl, managing director of Rapid Eye Movies, the distributor which spearheaded the Bollywood trend in Germany and which has ancillary rights to "Om."

Khan said he has no plans to go after Hollywood roles. "I'm 42 years old, I'm a little brown. I don't have any (unique selling point) as an actor, there is no place for me (in Hollywood)," he said. "I would like to continue to work in Bollywood and take Indian cinema to the world."

 But Khan, who also produced "Om," said he will make a Bollywood-style movie in Germany. "We plan to shoot a film here. We've been designing a film specifically to shoot a lot in Berlin and Germany," he said.