The Telegraph
Tuesday , March 12 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Master in town, big boys troop in


Mumbai, March 11: Mac in hand, Bollywood today obediently streamed into class as master filmmaker Steven Spielberg played teacher at an hour-long session moderated by Amitabh Bachchan.

Over 400 B-town biggies queued up outside Taj Land’s End hotel in Bandra this evening and got themselves frisked before they were allowed entry into Spielberg’s class on the nuances of film-making.

Gone was the lack of punctuality that many in Bollywood are notorious for. “The event began at 6.30pm, but all had taken their seats by 6.15. The session ended at 8pm followed by a dinner party hosted by Anil and Tina Ambani,” said a Reliance Entertainment source.

The Anil Ambani-owned group, which picked up a 50 per cent stake in Spielberg’s Dreamworks SKG in 2009, has brought the multiple Oscar-winning director to India to celebrate the best actor award picked up by Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln this year.

Spielberg, who has produced and directed Lincoln, landed in Mumbai with wife Kate late on Sunday on a four-day visit to India. The couple have put up at Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel in Colaba.

This morning, Spielberg had a brief meeting with Anil at his Ballard Estate office in Mumbai. He will leave for New Delhi tomorrow before flying out on March 14.

“This is his first international trip since the Oscar win this year. The trip was planned by Anil and Tina Ambani right after the film was nominated for the Golden Globe awards in December 2012,” said a Reliance official.

Bachchan, who moderated the “master-class”, is reported to have taken leave from the Bhopal shoot of Satyagraha, being directed by Prakash Jha. The superstar was expected to attend the dinner party along with Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, sources said.

“And tomorrow meeting up with THE Steven Spielberg and moderating a conversation with him, at an event for select fraternity!!" Bachchan had blogged.

Jha wasn’t there to learn from Spielberg but there were several others who didn’t pass up the opportunity. Among them were Abhay Chopra, Ashutosh Gowariker, David Dhawan, Farah Khan, Javed Akhtar, Karan Johar, Kiran Rao, Madhur Bhandarkar, Mahesh Bhatt, Nagesh Kukunoor, Raju Hirani, Rakesh Roshan, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Ramesh Sippy, Ram Gopal Verma, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shyam Benegal, Subhash Ghai, Vishal Bhardwaj and Zoya Akhtar.

Sources said the “best and the brightest” grabbed the front seats and asked intelligent questions while “backbenchers” grumbled, snitched, gossiped and even yawned. After the session, many jostled for an exclusive chat with the master director while others made a beeline for the food.

Reliance ADAG sources said Spielberg was travelling with a retinue of personal staff and bodyguards who had thoroughly inspected security at the hotel before his arrival. Mumbai police are also providing the Jewish filmmaker security.

The Taj Mahal Hotel has become a symbol of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, during which a Jewish Chabad house was also targetted. A rabbi and his wife were killed in the attacks.