Amitabh Bachchan carrying the Olympic flame in London
Even the Olympics can’t escape the Bollywood effect. Read how Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar and A R Rahman have been part of London 2012, and get inspired by some sports-themed movies.
As the 2012 Olympics Games finally get underway in London, it’s been great to see India taking a lead part in the events leading up to July 27th. While Team India and its 142-member contingency, consisting of 81 professional athletes, settled into the Olympic village and made low key appearances at various official functions, a number of India’s film industry figures have also making their presence felt.
Top of the bill has been veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan who carried the Olympic Flame on the leg between The City of London and Southwark during Day 69 of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay on July 26th.
Standing tall in an official white Olympics tracksuit, he was cheered along the 400 metres route by thousands of Londoners and Bollywood film fans.
The day before Mr. Bachchan, 69, tweeted that he would be carrying the Torch in London in the morning. "OK !! HERE IT IS : Have been invited by London Olympic Organizing Committee to carry the torch in the relay tomorrow...", senior Bachchan tweeted. "Honored to be asked to carry the Olympic Torch in London at Southwark around 10:30 AM!! A proud moment for me and country," he added.
Surprisingly, Bachchan isn’t the first Bollywood star to hold aloft the sacred flame. Saif Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan were the torchbearers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, while Vivek Oberoi, Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji and Bipasha Basu were among the torch bearers for the 2004 Athens Games. Naturally, khiladi Akshay Kumar has also been part of this exclusive club. He was one of the torch bearers for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Bachchan is also not the only Indian film industry figure to lend the Indian touch to the London event. Indian composer A R Rahman has teamed up with his Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle to compose a track for the inaugural event. Writing on his Facebook page, Rahman said, "Clarifying the report on the Olympics track I am composing... It's a track in Punjabi celebrating the Indian influence in the UK. It's a part of a medley in the Olympics opening ceremony, according to Danny Boyle's creative wishes!"
A song by veteran South Indian composer, Illaiyaraaja, is also set to feature in the medley of music tracks to be used in the inaugural programme.
Witnessing all this will be filmmaker, Karan Johar, one of the few famous Bollywood figures from the film fraternity to be officially invited to watch the opening ceremony at the newly built Olympic Stadium in east London. His ticket comes courtesy of the Director of Visit Britain tourism board of which he is an official ambassador.
Besides Bachchan, UK-based Indian steel tycoon, Lakshmi Mittal and his son Aditya were also honoured by being allowed to carry the Olympic flame. As one of the most prominent sponsors of the games, Mittal has also been one of the most visible Indians involved with the big-budget international event.
His company donated the steel and most of the £22.7 million pound fund taken to build the giant Orbit Tower, which forms focal point in the Olympic village complex. The Mittal Champions Trust has also been key in financially supporting a number of Indian sportsmen and women taking part in the London 2012 games.
At an exclusive Mittal Champions Trust facilitation party that took place at the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, Indian tennis doubles champ- turned-Bollywood film producer, Mahesh Bhupathi, was just one of the associated athletes to be honoured and wished well. Boxers Vikas Krishnan Yadav and Sumit Sangwan, discus thrower Seema Antil, shooter Ronjan Singh Sodhi and female archers Laishram Bombayala Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro were amongst some of the Trust’s recipients.
With all this activity going on, it’s hard not to be influenced by grand occasion. If you fancy getting into the sporting spirit check out one of a bunch of sports-themed movies on Sanona.
There’s Chak De! India, in which Shah Rukh Khan plays the shamed coach put in charge of rejuvenating the failing Indian women’s national hockey team.
Sanjay Suri and Milind Soman feature in Say Salaam India, a coming of age drama in which four boys from humble backgrounds and limited resources, but with a zeal for cricket, fight to be recognised for their talents.
Cricket also forms the basis for two other movies, both of which are comedies. In Dil Bole Hadippa, Rani Mukerji stars as the cricket-obsessed Punjabi girl who enters the men’s team to play in the Cricket World Cup and falls for her handsome coach played by Shahid Kapoor.
Hattrick, starring Paresh Rawal, Kunal Kapoor and Rimi Sen explores the influence of cricket over people in Indian through the eyes of a doctor, housewife and airport janitor.
Soccor fans may like to watch John Abraham play the role of a talented British Asian footballer who spurns his mainstream team to join a local desi club in in Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal. Arshad Warsi, Bipasha Basu and Bomba Irani co-star.
To watch a clip of Amitabh Bachchan’s torch relay on BBC News click here.
To view a photo slideshow of Amitabh Bachchan’s torch relay at The Deccan Chronicle click here
Amitabh Bachchan Photo credit: NDTV