The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Markets’ Diwali dream: High five with Hema

Mumbai, Oct. 24: Beauty and the bourse!

This could well be the gag on the markets tomorrow if the ageless Dream Girl of Bollywood — Hema Malini — brings good fortune to Pheroze Jeejeebhoy Towers and charms the 30-stock sensitive index of the Bombay Stock Exchange to vault the magic 5000-mark at the start of a new trading year, Samvat 2060.

All through this month, investors have been on edge wondering when the sensex — the most-watched barometer of the market’s mood — will cross the mark.

On Monday, the sensex came tantalisingly close — just 50 points short — but wilted as investors swarmed the market to sell their stocks and scoop up their gains.

In a break with tradition, Hema, now a Rajya Sabha MP, has been invited to attend the annual Lakshmi Puja held to herald the new trading year.

The invitation appeared to bring the ballast to the clobbered markets with the sensex snapping a four-day losing streak and surging 109 points — but still almost 250 points adrift from the magic 5000.

It would be too much to expect the sensex to put on so much of flab in one day — but the market teems with eternal optimists.

“Big ticket brokers, merchant bankers and the who’s who from the finance world will be there on the occasion,” said Manoj Vaish, executive director and chief executive officer of BSE. He was trying to play down the presence of Hema when this correspondent asked about her connection with the stock markets.

But the BSE invite gave a lot of prominence to her presence on the Big Day at the bourse where former US President Bill Clinton and several finance ministers have come calling whenever they visited the city.

“It may be because I am a spiritual person,” Hema said, asked why she had been called and whether she could add some tinsel glitter to the stock market. “Also, maybe because I have enacted goddess Lakshmi’s role in ballets,” she added helpfully.

The actress said she had never invested in stocks. “Because I spend a lot of money shopping.”

Many at BSE are excited about her attending the puja in the Rotunda Hall. A BSE staffer said: “She’s a good symbol and a good sign. The BSE will also get some publicity out of this.”

But there were many who were sceptical about all the hoopla. “Maybe she’s being called because she has just become a Rajya Sabha MP,” a woman broker at BSE said.

Others scoffed at the idea and wondered whether it would not have been better to invite former Reserve Bank governor Bimal Jalan, who has just stepped down from office to become a member of the Upper House of Parliament.

But Hema was thrilled when told that the market had surged 109 points today.

“Really'” she exclaimed. “I pray to Malalakshmi, that it goes higher and higher”.

Investors would say amen to that noble thought.

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