The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Star takes a shine to Sonia
Aishwarya: 10 Janpath fan

Jan. 23: Sonia Gandhi possibly has many admirers, but not everyone is Aishwarya Rai.

Not just that, don’t be surprised if one of these days ' snatching some time out of her busy schedule, with one foot in Bollywood and one in Hollywood ' the first woman of Indian cinema hops across to pay her respects to the first woman of Indian politics.

“Ash has a healthy regard for Sonia. She views the Congress president as an extraordinary woman and a living symbol of women’s empowerment,” a family friend of the star said.

Sources close to Ash said she was concerned over stories of her proximity to politicians hostile to Sonia.

The beauty queen-turned-star has been known for her association with Amar Singh, the Samajwadi Party leader who has alleged that his telephone was being tapped at the behest of Sonia.

He has also said that some of the conversation that has allegedly been taped might have been with film industry people.

Through Amar, Ash also developed business relations with a Lucknow-based group.

The star’s intention to personally convey her admiration to Sonia might be interpreted by observers as a move to step away from her perceived political association and the other links this has brought.

Ash’s hands are full with acting assignments, many outside India. She is doing three English films ' Provoked, Mistress of Spices and The Last Legion, which is a Hollywood epic where she plays Mira, a mysterious black-clad warrior who helps protect Caesar.

If the family sources are to be believed, Ash is not averse to the idea of following in the political footsteps of Sunil and Nargis Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Khanna, Govinda and Dharmendra ' not to speak of Amitabh Bachchan at one point of time ' at a later stage.

If Ash moves towards the Congress, the party would be able to boast of having Bollywood’s Big Two in its cast. Shahrukh Khan is a self-confessed admirer of Sonia and her family.

His visits to 10 Janpath and friendship with Priyanka, Rahul and Robert Vadra are well known. Priyanka’s children Rehan and Meira adore Shahrukh.

In recent years, Bollywood has begun to flaunt its proximity to the political class. In the previous Delhi durbar, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his deputy L.K. Advani would watch special shows of new films in a small and exclusive auditorium on Mahadev Road.

Film stars would also revel in their company as Hindi movies began to be equated with Indian culture.

The period also saw the emergence of Amar as a politician in Delhi who felt at home in Mumbai.

It is possible that after the phone-tapping episode, Mumbai may not be feeling very much at home with the Samajwadi Party leader.

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