We’re a country that believes in Atithi Devo Bhava (guest akin to God). And Bollywood swears by it, or so it seems, thanks to their warm reception for Hollywood stars visiting India. Most recently, actor Akshay Kumar hosted dinner at his Mumbai home for Hollywood actor Will Smith, and invited film buddies.
Last year in March, singer Ed Sheeran visited the country. Filmmaker Farah Khan introduced actor Abhishek Bachchan to him, who in turn invited Sheeran to his place. “It was very gracious of Abhishek to let me bring Ed and his team to his home…Not only did Ed hit it off with Abhishek, but before I left, they both also decided that Ed would act in Happy New Year 2,” Farah had told us at the time.
Filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar says that these parties often result in collaborations. “There are times that these meetings translate into collaborations especially with two of our heroines doing so well there. We look up to Hollywood and we need to be on their good side. This is the least we can do after copying their work,” he says.
Celebrity image consultant Harish Bijoor says meeting like these help Indian celebs work on their image. “Bollywood stars are hungry for Hollywood attention. This is why they make efforts to meet up these star diasporas of the world. A lot can be achieved... This is why fraternities are built,” says Bijoor.
Some are even united by a cause. In May, Hollywood actor Ellen Page visited India to shoot her show Gaycation, which explored the lives of the LGBT community in various countries. She caught up with scriptwriter Apurva Asrani and celebrated the latter’s dog’s birthday. Apurva was a guest on the show and the two chatted for the same. “Ellen was extremely moved by our film Aligarh and thought that it was relevant to the US audience, too. She ‘came out’ (of the closet) in 2014 and I ‘came out’ in 2015. It was great chatting with her as we are both united by the same cause,” Asrani had told us earlier.
In December last year, former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh hosted Hollywood actor Orlando bloom at his farmhouse in Chhattarpur. Other celebrities at the party included Salman Khurshid, Jaya Prada, Sridevi and Boney Kapoor. Bloom was invited by the Uttar Pradesh government for a state event and Singh also visited Taj Mahal with the Hollywood star.
Earlier too, actor Jean Claude Jan Damme was invited by filmmaker Ashok Amritraj for his book launch in September, 2013.
In November, Hollywood star Robert De Niro visited India and received a warm welcome from actor Anupam Kher at his acting school Actor Prepares in Mumbai. They were also joined by Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Anil Kapoor.