New Delhi, Dec 23: The love affair between India and Hollywood boosted by the Oscar win of 'Slumdog Millionaire' reached new heights in 2011 with global names from the entertainment industry touching base in the country.
Movie bigwig Tom Cruise and pop sensation Lady Gaga came exploring a new fan base, chanting the cliched “I love India” to woo their growing audience here.
Being the first mainstream Hollywood actor to have come to India especially for the premiere of his film ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol', Cruise was in Mumbai with leading lady Paula Patton and met Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor who has done a cameo in the much awaited action thriller. It was a whirlwind trip for Cruise but the 49-year-old has reportedly promised to be back soon with wife Katie Holmes and daughter Suri for a holiday.
Grammy-winning singer Gaga was here in October to perform at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix and promote her new album ‘Born This Way'. Unlike other international names, she did not put on an elusive act and tried her best to interact with the media and her fans, despite her performance being an exclusive event, tickets of which were priced as high as Rs 40,000.
India seemed to be a good market to enter for US socialite Paris Hilton as well, who, other than being an heiress to the famous chain of Hilton hotels, is the owner of a number of other businesses. The 30-year-old model and entrepreneur was in Mumbai to a launch handbags and accessories range under her label Paris Hilton Entertainment.
And she admitted her love for all things Indian, including sarees and jewellery, calling the country a “spiritual and magical” place.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman visited Mumbai in March for FICCI Frames. The ‘X-Men' star tried his hand at Bollywood dancing alongwith Shah Rukh Khan and Vidya Balan on the stage, much to the delight of his Indian fans.
‘Memoirs of a Geisha' star Michelle Yeoh also headed to India with director Luc Besson for the screening of her upcoming film ‘The Lady' - based on the life of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi - at the International Film Festival of India earlier this month. ‘Hangover' star Heather Graham was also in Goa to attend the same festival.
Besides Gaga, other names from the music industry who came here to perform were heavy metal band Metallica, whose cancelled concert in Delhi created much controversy. They finally performed to a packed ground in Bangalore.
Colombian pop star Shakira was in Udaipur to perform at the birthday bash of DLF's K P Singh. R&B star Akon visited the country in April and performed on his birthday, sharing a cake with his fans who came to attend the concert.
Rapper Pitbull also came to the country at the fag end of the year to perform in three cities. He was said to be accompanied by Latin music greats Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez, but that piece of news proved to be a rumour.
India has been the location for a number of international projects as well, attracting a number of artistes who came here to shoot their films.
Hollywood couple Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts was in the country in November to shoot for Mira Nair's adaptation of ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist'. While her husband was busy exploring the streets of Old Delhi, Watts visited the Safdurjung hospital in the Capital as the UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador.
Actor Josh Hartnett was probably the only one to have shot in the country for about 30 days, at a place close to Bhopal for ‘Singularity'. His visit was not publicised but the actor grabbed headlines for a supposed link-up with his co-star in the film, Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu.
Veteran actress Judi Dench, famous for playing M in the James Bond films, was shooting in Jaipur with Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Bill Nighy for their new film ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'.
There was much hype about the 23rd installment of the British spy franchise eyeing India as a location for shooting. The makers wanted to film some train stunts on the Konkan railways stretch with actor Daniel Craig. But that did not work out with the administration here and the producers finally decided to scout for locations in Africa.
Other Hollywood artistes who came to India but created lesser buzz include ‘Mr Bean' Rowan Atkinson, who explored Jaipur and also cheered racers at the Grand Prix in October. British actress and model Elizabeth Hurley, who split from her Indian businessman husband Arun Nayar this year, was in the country with her new beau Shane Warne to cheer him at the IPL matches.
Camilla Belle, who has starred in films like ‘10,000 BC' and ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park', was here to promote her film ‘Speedy Singhs' produced by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar.
Funnyman Rob Schneider, a Saturday Night Live veteran and Adam Sandler's sidekick in almost all his films including ‘50 First Dates', was here to crack up Mumbaikars with his stand-up comedy acts.
Hollywood's romance with India, which came to the fore about two years ago with the Oscar win, is in no mood to wane.
‘Men In Black' star Will Smith is reportedly heading to India in the new year to promote the third installment of the sci-fi action film and one can be sure that many others will follow suit to woo the market and the audience in this Asian country.