Key starstruck on Bollywood set

By Claire Trevett

Step aside Liz Hurley - Bipasha Basu is moving in. It wasn't quite clear what was distracting Prime Minister John Key the most: the alluring star's long legs, the job at hand or the masses of media watching him.

Whichever it was, Mr Key appeared uncharacteristically starstruck when he made his directorial debut at a Bollywood studio in Mumbai yesterday.

The PM was given the job of clicking the clapperboard to start off the shoot for a scene in The Players - a Bollywood version of The Italian Job partly shot in Queenstown.

With a stern "don't stuff up" to himself and a training session from the actual director, he was off with, "Players movie, scene seven, take one, shot one. Action."

It may not have been the most accomplished effort, but his attempts at directing won praise from lead actor Abishek Bachchan, whose verdict was that Mr Key had a bright future.

"I think Mr Jackson has some competition", he said, referring to Kiwi Oscar winner Sir Peter Jackson.

Hundreds of India's media had turned up for the event, albeit possibly attracted more by Bipasha Basu than Mr Key.

They hollered her name and Bachchan's name repeatedly to encourage her to look their way.

The frenzy prompted the PM and Bachchan to compare their media packs.

"Welcome to my world," Bachchan said to Mr Key, gesturing at the mass of cameras.

The PM in turn pointed at the quiet New Zealand media pack of 15, saying, "They're very friendly - some days."

The stars then did Mr Key the favour he had hoped for - singing NZ's praises at length.

Bachchan joked the only place NZ did not look good was looking straight down to the ground from the Sky Tower. "We love it."

Basu spoke about jetboating and the adventures she had during her month in Queenstown.

Mr Key's verdict on the two actors was that they were "stunning. And taller than me."

The visit to the studio was a follow-up to the announcement of a joint film production agreement between NZ and India, which the PM is hoping will attract more Bollywood films - and more tourists following in the footsteps of the stars.

The Players itself has faced controversy in New Zealand - legal action was taken by some contractors who were owed money after filming ended. There were also concerns about immigration issues.

- NZ Herald

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