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Top Brit star Toby to star in B'wood's The Rising

Times have changed for Bollywood, and for the better. Toby Stephens will now work in 1857: The Rising, reports Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:24 IST

Gone are the days when the West looked down on Bollywood films as downmarket productions full of songs and dances and no kissing. But, times have changed.

The young hunk actor from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Toby Stephens, has agreed to play a major role in a Bollywood movie, The Rising - based on the 1857 Indian war of Independence. He will act along the Bollywood greats Aishwarya Rai and Aamir Khan.

He is the biggest British actor so far to get a starring role in an Indian film being made in Mumbai. He will play William Gordon, a British officer during the 1857 mutiny.

The 34-year-old Stephens, the second son of Dame Maggie Smith and the late Sir Robert Stephens, recently acted as Kim Philby in The Cambridge Spies.

It is said that he needed no persuasion. "The state of the British industry I dire." Doing Bollywood may not only be "good in career terms but also influence my life".

He is taking his role very seriously and has also started reading William Dalrymple's White Moghuls and Sual David's Indian Mutiny to understand the complex relations between the British and Indians in those years. Stephens flies to Mumbai in October and will be there for six months.

His wife, actress Anna Louise-Plowman is also enthusiastic about the project. She plans to spend as much time in Mumbai as possible while he is there. Stephens says half jokingly, who knows she too might find a role in a period dress.

True, who knows, now that the two-way traffic is beginning to start between stars of the west with the stars of the east.

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 21:33 IST