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Dravid opens Indian summer in London

Indian cricket captain Rahul Dravid kicks off India Now, the three-month celebration of India in London.

world Updated: Jul 17, 2007 19:28 IST

Indian cricket captain Rahul Dravid on Tuesday kicked off India Now, the three-month celebration of India, with an intricately designed replica of the Taj Mahal floating on the Thames and the Big Ben providing the picturesque backdrop.

The Taj Mahal replica made a striking image as it travelled past London landmarks such as the London Eye, St Paul's, the Tate Modern and Tower Bridge before coming to rest at London Bridge.

Besides Dravid, the India Now festival was also formally launched by popular actress Shilpa Shetty and London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Livingstone said: "India is an emerging economic superpower and also has one of the world's most important cultures. The India Now season will be an opportunity to experience the richness of Indian culture and offers something for everyone. It will truly showcase the very best of modern Indian culture for Londoners and visitors alike."

By the end of the day on Tuesday, the Taj Mahal replica will be moored by the London Eye and then be relocated across London as the India Now season continues.

Standing at approximately six metres high and eight metres long, the replica has received a contemporary artistic treatment by Indian film set designer Bijon Das Gupta and modern Indian artiste Suchi Chidambaram. It is supported by a one-metre high plinth.

India Now includes a series of events and exhibitions dedicated to Indian art, film, theatre, music, fashion, food and business. It will see over 200 cultural organisations contribute to the season, including a selection of London's most well known museums and galleries such as the British Museum and V&A.

Over 1,500 events will take place during India Now, with well over one million Londoners expected to participate in events during the season.

Key events of India Now include:

-- A three-week Indian themed Trafalgar Square Festival commencing on Aug 2. In the final week of the Festival, on Aug 16, a specially commissioned Indian film display will see a giant canvas painted live by Mumbai poster painters who will re-imagine London as an Indian city at the foot of Nelson's Column. A spectacular vertical dance extravaganza performed by a team of fearless aerialists will then be played out against the background of this extraordinary vividly painted giant poster.

-- As part of the Film 4 Summer Screen and in celebration of the India Now season, on Aug 9 the Indian film Chak De India will premiere worldwide at Somerset House. It will be attended by actor Shah Rukh Khan.

-- A spectacular finale to the season on Sep 2 will be the Regent Street Festival which will see Regent Street transformed into an Indian streetscape, complete with music, spectacular sculptures, food and artisans.