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British PM's wife keen to meet Big B

world Updated: May 18, 2008 13:22 IST
HS Rao
HS Rao
PTI
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Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has revealed that the film star she most wanted to meet is the Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan.

"You know the film star I most want to meet is Amitabh Bachchan - who is a friend of my husband and who kindly took him around Bollywood on a visit he made to Mumbai," Sarah, who was the Chief Guest at the 49th anniversary dinner of Women's India Association of the UK at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London last night, said.

She said: "In politics you are always looking for good ways to get your message across the people and my husband always laughs when he recounts how he asked Amitabh Bachchan how many people got to see each of his film - about 500 million was the answer."

Prominent among those present were Shiv Shanker Mukherjee, India's new High Commissioner to the UK; Lord Swraj Paul along with Lady Aruna Paul; Lakshmi Mittal, NRI steel tycoon and chief of the Arcelor Mittal; Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chairman, UK-India Business Council; Baroness Shreela Flather; and Joginder Sanger, leading NRI hotelier.

In his brief speech, Lord Paul referred to a lot of things written about Prime Minister Brown recently. "He will prove to be the best Prime Minister this country has had. I wrote this in my autobiography in 1997 and I stand by that."

Frances Malhotra, Chairperson of the Association, said "our target is to raise 100,000 pounds through auctions for charity in the night. Our vision is to create change by educating some of the world's poorest children."

Sarah also fondly recalled her visit to India with Gordon Brown in January and the hospitality extended to them by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife.

Sarah said her husband was delighted to receive an honorary degree from University in Delhi and to speak about challenges - and opportunities - presented to both Britain and India to provide "our young people with the highest levels of skills and education to meet the demands of a modern world."

Recalling her visit to a maternal health centre on the outskirts of Delhi, she said she is passionate about the issue of maternal and infant mortality and the desperate need to reduce the worldwide figures.

She hoped that the "political leaders at the G8 and the United Nations summit in September including the Indian Government - will come together to support the call for more health workers that will enable a reduction in the startling figures.

When you know that 20 per cent of mothers' deaths in pregnancy and child birth take place in India (about 100,000) you will understand why I raise it here."

"... Together we will always keep our interest in and support for India and will work to maintain the positive Anglo-Indian relationship that has existed for so long to the benefit of both our countries."

Stating that she and her husband are "proud" to know Lord Paul and his wife and to have them as friends, Sarah added: "In fact I have known Lord Paul longer than I have known my husband as we worked together on political party activities long ago than I care to specifically remember."

"Lord Paul is such a highly respected ambassador for the Indian community here in Britain and indeed across the world," she said.

There were peels of laughter when Sarah said most charity events that she has been involved with have been focused on women's issues and when her son went back to his nursery school the day after his father had become party leader, just prior to becoming Premier, "he did proudly announce to his teacher that his dad had become leader of the Lady party - not entirely inaccurate and with the power of women organisations like this one, no bad thing at all."