The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dahl, Puri on Bollywood English menu
- British bomb waiting to explode, Bend It team lights the fuse

London, Aug. 8: Sophie Dahl, who has been portrayed in the British media as one of the most voluptuous young women in the country, is to play a lead role in a Bollywood film alongside Om Puri, it was confirmed today.

She will star in The King of Bollywood, which will be filmed shortly in London and be directed by Piyush Jha, according to Andrew Pavord, a line producer on the movie.

Dahl, the 24-year-old granddaughter of the late Roald Dahl, the author of such bestselling children’s books as The BFG, caused a sensation three years ago when she appeared in an advertisement for the perfume Opium wearing nothing more than a string of pearls and a pair of high-heel shoes.

Her alleged dalliance with ageing rock star Mick Jagger in the back of his limousine also got her into the gossip columns in a big way.

In The King of Bollywood, Dahl will play a film-maker engaged in making “an affectionate documentary on Bollywood” but who gets sucked into the world of Indian cinema.

Asked how she was chosen for the role, Pavord, who was line producer on Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, said: “She is not an obvious choice but it was an inspired piece of casting by the English casting director. The film will be mainly in English but it’s an Indian film, with an Indian team, with Indian finance. The production company involved is iDream, which was behind Bend It Like Beckham and Monsoon Wedding.”

He added: “Sophie rang me today and she is very much looking forward to being in the film.”

Dahl is the latest British celebrity to have signed up for a Bollywood film. Last week, Toby Stephens, 34, one of the most talented young actors in Britain, confirmed to The Telegraph that he would take six months off to be in The Rising, a tale about the first war of independence starring Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai and produced by Bobby Bedi.

Pavord said more and more people in Britain were getting involved in Bollywood film-making. “It’s back to basics.”

One suggestion is that Dahl, who has quintessentially fair English looks, may need a little makeup for The King of Bollywood since one of her grandparents is Indian.

Described by tabloid newspapers as a “curvaceous blonde”, Dahl’s ad for the Yves Saint Laurent Opium was seen by some as overtly sexual.

After billboards for the perfume appeared all over Britain, more than 700 people lodged complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority. The ad had to be withdrawn.

Dahl dismissed their complaints with the comment: “I think the advertisement is beautiful. It was seen as being anti-women when in fact it is very empowering to women.”

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