Rani at Lord's feet

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  • Published 12.02.06

Ujjain, Feb. 12: On a day the rumour mills rang the wedding bells for Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, fellow Bollywood star Rani Mukherjee sought shelter at Lord Krishna’s feet in temple town Ujjain.

Rani was in an uncharacteristically foul mood. “Babli” repeatedly lost her cool and kept accusing the media of circulating “unsubstantiated stuff”. The only time she smiled was when former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Babulal Gaur addressed her as “Rani Gopi Mukherjee”.

The actress, who was wearing a green sari, urged Gaur to watch her upcoming film, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (never say goodbye). Karan Johar’s film shows Rani (married to Abhishek in the film) having an affair with Shahrukh Khan (married to Preity Zinta). Amitabh Bachchan plays a flamboyant character in the film.

According to the Bollywood grapevine, Rani is having an affair with Abhishek, considered the country’s most eligible bachelor.

The dusky beauty ? whom Gaur toasted as a rare combination of beauty and brains ? has a lot going for her. Bachchan senior and wife Jaya are said to be extremely fond of her, with some friends of the family even claiming that Jaya views her as “perfect bahu material”.

Besides, Rani and Abhishek continue to be “good friends” and, unlike the former Miss World, she is younger than him.

Jaya’s family ? her mother Indira Bhaduri lives in Bhopal ? refused to comment on the rumours.

Rani and Gaur were in Ujjain for the inauguration of the Iskcon temple here. Alfred Ford, the great-grandson of automobile legend Henry Ford and an Iskcon devotee, presided over the function. Ford is referred to as “Ambarish Das” in Iskcon circles.

After the inauguration, the actress went temple-hopping. Having sought the blessings of Krishna, she made for the famous Mahakal temple.

The lingam ? one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India ? at the Mahakal is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself), deriving currents of power (shakti) from within itself.

Local authorities said Rani’s mother Krishna Mukherjee had had a special puja done at the Mahakal but there was no confirmation from the temple authorities.

Aishwarya’s secretary Hari Singh denied the actress was contemplating marriage. He said she had a large number of assignments on hand, which left her with little time till the end of next year.

Aishwarya’s father Krishna Rai, too, reacted sharply. He asked: “Who started it (the alleged rumour) in the first place?”

Abhishek had once been engaged to Karisma Kapoor but they broke off abruptly a couple of years ago.