The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A wedding & a split
- Hugh and Jemima break up, Liz to wed
Jemima & Hugh:In better times

London, Feb. 17: Hugh Grant’s American agent announced last night that he had split from his girlfriend of three years, Jemima Khan, even as Elizabeth Hurley, with whom the actor had a relationship stretching 13 years, formally issued a notice declaring her intention to marry her Indian fiancé, Arun Nayar.

Will Grant now sidle up to Shilpa Shetty and come up with the kind of dialogue that audiences have come to expect in such movies as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually: “If I said you had the most beautiful body in Bollywood, would you hold it against me'”

Probably not. For one thing, the winner of Celebrity Big Brother has shown she can take care of herself.

For another, wherever Shilpa goes, her watchful mother, Sunanda, follows.

Although Shilpa has denied she is to act in a film with Grant, there has been loose talk that a script is being written for her casting her in a lead role opposite the English actor.

Although Shilpa, who is two years younger than 33-year-old Jemima, has said she would prefer an Indian takeaway, Grant, who will hit 50 in four years, is said to possess something called “old-fashioned English charm”.

There are other permutations.

Grant may achieve a reconciliation with Jemima — after all, the couple have bought a £18-million house together in Chelsea.

Or Jemima, the wealthy daughter of late billionaire businessman Sir James Goldsmith, may be tempted to return to her former husband, Imran Khan, 55 – the couple have two sons, Suleiman, 11, and Qasim, 8 (even if this were possible, she would have to go back to more modest dress and not follow the latest fashion trend of being photographed without underwear).

Or Hurley, 41, and Nayar, who is the same age, get divorced after a reasonably long marriage — say, a couple of years — and she returns to Grant.

Or Hurley makes it up with the American producer Steve Bing, with whom she had a son, Damian, though at the time he was ungallant enough to question whether he was really the father.

And may be Nayar will return to his Italian ex-wife, Valentina Pedroni, whom he dumped for Hurley.

In a cutting edge Hollywood film it would be Hurley and Jemima who would probably run off together to reappear in a remake of the movie. Meanwhile, Grant would eventually find happiness with Divine Brown, the LA lady of the night, with whom he had all too brief an encounter in the back of a car in 1995.

Where would tabloids be without the characters in this drama' There were some suggestions that Jemima began her affair with Grant even before her relationship with Imran had really ended.

Certainly, newspapers had a field day today following the statement last night by Robert Garlock, Grant’s US agent, to US website “Hugh and Jemima have decided to split amicably.”

No reason was given but it is possible Jemima precipitated the crisis because Grant had shown no inclination to marry her. The last time the couple appeared together was earlier this month at the London premiere of his film Music and Lyrics. Shilpa was there, too, but with her mother.

In the light of last night’s announcement, every little row Grant and Jemima have had will be blown out of proportion. At the premiere, Grant had described his girlfriend as “brave” for taking him on.

At a recent news conference, Grant also claimed that his screen image as romantic comedy hero was a long way from real life.

He protested: “I am really not the romantic sort. Maybe deep inside there is a little romance lingering but I cannot think of a single thing I have ever done which could be construed as romantic. Even if I could, however, I wouldn’t divulge it as the whole thing makes me cringe.”

In LA, the couple were seen having a slanging match on Sunset Boulevard. There had apparently also been a quarrel at her 33 rd birthday party. She had joked about his “commitment phobia” while he had labelled her a “nag” and a “dictator”.

Jemima is said to have told a friend: “He’s ignoring me. He’s got lots of other women on his arm tonight. I knew this would happen. I’m used to it now.”

Meanwhile, Grant was overheard remarking: “I can’t kiss any more women, I’ve already had a row with Jemima.”

That didn’t stop him wandering up to several women at Floridita, a club in London’s Soho, and saying: “You’re simply gorgeous, aren’t you'”

So, Shilpa should be warned.

Yesterday, the formal notice of the marriage between Hurley and Nayar was made public at Cheltenham Register Office.

The former face of Estee Lauder described herself as a “professional actress” and not a model. She has starred as the leading lady in Hollywood blockbusters, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Bedazzled, but failed to impress critics with her “wooden” performances.

She is to marry Nayar at Sudeley Castle, near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, according to the document.

Hurley is a close friend of the castle’s heir, Henry Dent-Brocklehurst, who is godfather to her son, Damian.

Hurley, who has appeared to be as unhelpful as possible to Jemima, dismissed reports last month that her ex-boyfriend about to marry his girlfriend.

“I don’t see him as much these days, but I do know that he’s not getting married either, even though that has been written about in the newspapers,” she said of Grant.

Hurley’s English wedding on March 3 is to be followed by a marriage ceremony in India to which neither Grant nor Jemima has been invited but Sir Elton John and the Beckhams have.

Meanwhile, in other developments, pop star Madonna has said she wants to emulate “Mahatma Gandhi”, while today’s Daily Mail has attempted a real demolition job on Shilpa, (“The shocking story of the REAL Shilpa Shetty”), digging into her past relationships, the “exploitation” of workers at the factory owned by her family and her parents’ alleged underworld connections.

Shilpa’s new PR representative told the Daily Mail: “I have spoken to Shilpa and her mother at length and they utterly refute all the accusations. They told me there are a lot of people, here and in India, who are jealous of Shilpa.”

Among the British tabloids, the Daily Mirror won the bidding war for Shilpa’s story.

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