Bollywood starlet to usher in Nepal new year
Apr 10, 2007 - 12:54:54 PM

Kathmandu, April 10 - Less than a week after Nepal's newly crowned beauty queen Sitashma Chand advocated veering away from tradition for a good cause, an entertainment agency has decided to follow her advice and plans to usher in the new year with Bollywood starlet Udita Goswami.

Instead of the customary worship in temples, Suryakala Films is promoting a date with Udita, better known for her display of skin than acting talents, on Nepali New Year Saturday.

The Kathmandu-based organisation, which also holds an annual supermodel contest in September, is bringing in the little known actress of flops like 'Paap' for two shows to usher in Nepali year 2064 with a bang.

On New Year's Eve, which falls on Friday, Udita will entertain party poppers at the upmarket Yak and Yeti hotel at a bash complete with drinks and dinner priced at Nepali Rs.2,499 for single arrivals and Rs.4,499 for couples.

The other attractions at the party are the bhangra-dancing Meet brother duo and Jaswant Singh, star of the Great Indian Laughter Challenge Show on Indian TV's Star One channel.

On Saturday, the party spills over from the five-star hotel to a public venue in a not so hip part of the capital, Gyaneshwor.

'There's a craze for Udita among Nepali viewers,' Palden Sherpa, manager at Suryakala, told IANS. 'Also, we wanted to focus on entertainment.'

For some time, it had been a rising trend in Nepal to bring over Bollywood's latest 'item girls' to add fizz to parties and business.

Usually held at the five star hotels or casinos to promote business, the visitors have included Shefali, Mahek Chahal and Jia Chopra, former Miss World Priyanka Chopra's younger sister.

Last year, Bollywood diva Urmila Matondkar had come to Kathmandu to inaugurate the newest casino in town, Casino Shangri-la.

The trend drooped from 2005 following a coup by King Gyanendra and the subsequent political turmoil.

While the situation is stable now with the fall of the royal regime and the Maoist rebels joining the government, the entertainment industry is yet to release the breath it's been holding since last week when Nepal's premier beauty pageant came under fire.

The Miss Nepal 2007, the kingdom's oldest and best known beauty contest, ran into trouble Saturday when the women's wing of the Maoists and feminist as well as rights groups tried to stop it on the ground it degraded women.

The Maoist women also urged their MP and present Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara to stop the state-run Nepal Television channel from broadcasting the programme live.

Mahara said he and his party opposed such contests in principal, but he would not stop the show or the telecast due to 'practical considerations'.

The 'practical considerations' included a contract signed between Dabur Nepal, the main sponsor of the pageant, and the state-run channel.

Alarmed by the confrontation, Nepal's fashion and entertainment industry is watching the new government keenly to see if there are any new bans.

'Our plan is to give continuity to our supermodel contest,' Sherpa said. 'Till now, there is no ban on that.

'Still, we are watching closely to see if the government comes out with any new law and we will decide accordingly.'

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