If staring at Bollywood stars’ houses, waiting patiently for them to go grocery shopping, or living vicariously through gossip columns is not enough for you, there’s India’s brand-new, star-studded walk of fame.
Inspired by the Hollywood original, UTV Stars, a new Bollywood channel, is introducing its own “Walk of the Stars.” Slated to open on Wednesday, the walk spans a 2-kilometer, or 1.2-mile, stretch along the Bandra Bandstand Promenade in Mumbai.
The sea-facing promenade will feature the handprints and signatures of Bollywood stars embossed on brass plates on tiles along the path. Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Meena Kumari, Shammi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi and Sridevi are among the stars featured.
The UTV television group, which calls its new UTV Stars channel “the official channel of Bollywood,” has been working on the project for two years, collecting all the necessary permissions and hand impressions. “We wanted to do something as a tribute to the big stars of Bollywood who have contributed so much,” said Nikhil Gandhi, the business head at UTV Stars. “It’s a one-of its-kind attraction in India to bring fans a little closer to their favorite movie stars.”
The new Walk of the Stars will also feature several statues of Bollywood legends, including Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. The statues are life-size brass representations of each star, sitting on benches.
Courtesy of UTVA mock-up of the “UTV Stars” bench in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
“You’ll have a whole horde of people who would like to sit on a bench beside Raj Kapoor and get themselves photographed,” predicts Robin Nath, honorary secretary and trustee at the Bandra Bandstand Residents Trust, which developed and maintains the promenade. “You and me might not be infatuated by Bollywood stars but the rest of the public hero-worships them. I’m sure it’ll be a great hit.”
While unwilling to disclose the cost of the entire project, Mr. Gandhi said each brass statue will cost 35 lakh, or 3.5 million rupees , the equivalent of $68,000. There will be 6 to 8 such statues, and about 100 handprints.
Unlike the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust, this project will be promoted, funded and privately managed by UTV. “We have the support of the entire industry,” said Mr. Gandhi. “Bollywood, per se, is not a registered term, so there is not an administration we have to go through,” he said.
The name “Walk of the Stars” is a nod to the multiplicity of movie stars generated by the industry in recent years, Mr. Gandhi said. “Earlier it was one superstar per decade,” he said. “Now we have 10 or 15 stars per era delivering one super hit after the other.”
Mr. Gandhi said, “The project will not only be a monument to the industry but add to the beautification of the Bandra Bandstand promenade. People will visit especially to see it.”
Because the walk is being built in a public space, it required the permission of multiple government departments, including a no-objection certificate from the Maharashtra Maritime Board – a process that the company said was simple. “The process of getting approvals from the government was quite easy because of the credibility and value it adds to the promenade – it is a non-commercial project, free of cost to access to the public,” said Mr. Gandhi.
“It’s a very nice thing for the Bandra area, where there are already so many stars residing that people come from all over to stare at Salman Khan’s house or Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow,” said Mr. Nath. “It is about time that people recognized the fame of these actors living in our neighbourhood and gave them their due honor.”
(courtesy: By NEHA THIRANI & India Ink & Courtesy of UTV)