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Ash taps professionals for last word on Salman

Mumbai, April 7: The battle involving Aishwarya Rai, Vivek Oberoi and Salman Khan is turning murkier by the day, but no one can blame them for not fighting it professionally.

The press release that went out yesterday to the media saying she would not act with Salman any more, signed by Aishwarya from her 15th floor room at Hinduja Hospital where she is nursing her broken ankle, was handled by a prominent PR agency that mainly deals with major corporates. The actress wanted to make sure that her statement reached the right quarters in the right way.

“This is the first time in my knowledge that a PR agency has been involved in an actor’s personal affairs,” says veteran film scribe Rauf Ahmed. “This is the first time also that a press release made by an actor or actress had such an impact. The whole affair, starting from Vivek Oberoi’s press conference, shows how smart these new actors are. They are making the maximum impact in the media,” he adds.

At Vivek’s news conference, the actor waited for an hour for the television channels to arrive so that his tirade against Salman could be transmitted live.

“We don’t want to be named,” says the agency involved. “But the actress is hospitalised and we were roped in by her secretary Hari Singh to help her out. We did it as a one-off favour to him,” says the agency.

“Press releases are not new, though I can’t recall any well known actor announcing such a decision through a press release. But previously actors or industry people have sent releases. Govinda had sent out one previously against someone, but it was about his work, and it was written very funnily and in Hindi,” says Ahmed. “But this is the new breed of actors,” he says. “They want to shake off the old image of filmwallahs. By going to the press this way, they have made their point very well,” he says.

Industry watchers feel it was another press statement, made by Arbaaz Khan, Salman’s brother, that prompted Aishwarya to react. Arbaaz said in an exclusive to a television channel that she was in touch with Salman, something which the actress was out to deny.

“She was losing roles because of her involvement with Salman. He would go to her sets and behave badly with everyone. That’s why she got dropped from two of Shah Rukh Khan’s projects. That’s why she was also looking outside Bollywood. She has signed two Hollywood projects as well as the film with Rituporno Ghosh,” says the industry source. “If she didn’t make a strong statement on her break with Salman, her career would be at stake,” he adds.

The actress, says her secretary, is working from her bed already.

Tonight she is likely to meet the casting agency members from London who will approach her with the offer of the next Bond film. “But it will only the first time she meets them. It’s likely that she will come to a decision later,” says Singh.

The actress was approached by a Dubai-based agency earlier to act in another Pierce Brosnan film.

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