Bollywood stars are new investors in Modiís Gujarat
It all started in 2009 when Chief Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Anupam Kher's acting school, Actor Prepares, in Ahmedabad. Modi watched A Wednesday, a film based on the Mumbai train blasts of 2006, with Kher at a special screening in August that year. And the bond with Bollywood had formed.
The following year, Amitabh Bachchan signed up as Gujarat's brand ambassador over a special screening of Paa. Apparently the actor proposed, and the CM accepted.
At least 13 Bollywood stars have met Modi since then, not just for permission to shoot films but with investment proposals for Gujarat. "Most of these celebrities come to see me for business," Modi confirmed to The Sunday Express.
The 25 MW solar plant in Charanka, Patan district, for example, is a joint venture between Ramakant Tibrewala of the Roha Group, Singham star Ajay Devgn and Kumar Mangat (the producer of Dil to Baccha Hai Ji). Announcing the venture, Devgn had said: "We are aiming to reach 500 MW within three-five years with a total investment of Rs 5,000 crore."
According to Modi's office, at least four other investment proposals have come from filmdom. "Preity Zinta came with a proposal for a film and entertainment park," says Modi. He also recalled the visit of Arbaaz Khan regarding the shooting of Dabangg 2. Khan also wants to set up an entertainment park.
About Vivek Oberoi's visit in May, Modi said, "I know him because of his father Suresh Oberoiji, who is in the BJP." Oberoi junior also proposed investing in an entertainment park in Gujarat.
The list runs through Sanjay Dutt, who wants to build a film city, Suneil Shetty, who wants to organise water sports on the Sabarmati river, and 'courtesy visits' such as by Jackie Shroff and Akshay Kumar, who was the chief guest at the Khel Mahakumbh, a state-level sport fest.