Bollywood stars descend on Sharjah

Dubai and area is becoming increasingly attractive to Indian celebrities who are drawn by shopping and investment opportunities

The Bollywood couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor at a press conference in Dubai.
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Dubai // Stars from Bollywood will brave the summer heat and perform in front of a crowd of up to 30,000 people in Sharjah today. Jashn 2008 will be held at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium and feature the celebrity couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor. Other stars from India expected to perform hits from Bollywood films are the actor Minesha Lamba and the choreographer Ganesh Hegde. The entertainers have promised a full-throttle Bollywood performance, despite the soaring temperatures.

"I have lived in Mumbai all my life and it is hot there, too. I prefer heat to the cold weather and so I think l will be fine to perform tomorrow," Kapoor said yesterday. The organiser, UAE Mobiles, has also promised special cooling systems for the comfort of the performers and the audience. Speaking about his relationship with Kapoor, Khan said: "I have always maintained that my intentions are very honourable and Kareena is a very traditional girl. The obvious conclusion would be marriage, but right now we are focused on our career."

The couple will be performing together for the first time. "The most beautiful lady in India will dress up and dance to Bollywood songs and I will try to do the same," Khan said, referring to Kapoor. Khan said he would dance to some songs from his films and would also play the guitar during the show. "I have been learning the guitar since I was young and I think I'm not bad with it," he said. The actor, who is known for his roles in films such as Omkara, Salaam Namaste and Dil Chahta Hai, has a big fan base in the UAE.

The organiser said yesterday the show would be hosted by the comedian Kashif Khan and one of the highlights would be an 18-minute performance by the choreographer Hegde and his troupe of 30 dancers. It is anticipating an audience of up to 30,000. Bollywood's attraction to Dubai is growing because it is the closest international hub to India. Many of the country's stars visit the emirate for shopping and to find investment opportunities in the booming real estate industry.

Asked whether he had any investment plans in Dubai, Khan joked: "My only investment here so far are my fans. However, I am open to anyone gifting me a home." Shahrukh Khan, Bollywood's biggest star, already owns a luxurious apartment at Palm Jumeirah. The Bollywood couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai recently bought a villa together in the Sanctuary Falls, a resort-style community within Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Many other Indian celebrities have also expressed interest in buying a home in Dubai. With films not making much of an impact at the box office this year, Bollywood stars have directed their attention towards live performances. Dubai is expected to see a series of events this year, with reports that Shahrukh Khan will perform his Temptations Reloaded tour on Oct 21. The show played in the Dutch city of Rotterdam last month and there is speculation Khan will lead a cast of stars in Dubai that includes Katrina Kaif, Arjun Rampal and Kapoor.

"Live performances like these are part of our profession," Khan said. "We look forward to these shows and to see the audiences enjoy our performance." Tickets for Jashn 2008 are priced from Dh50 (US$13) to Dh1,000. Tickets are available at boxofficeme.com and other retail outlets in Dubai. For information about tickets, call 050 300 3381 or 065 571 650. @Email:pmenon@thenational.ae