LONDON: In the first tie-up of its kind, UK's leading football club Chelsea has teamed up with India's Yash Raj films in the production of a movie titled Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Preity Zinta.
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan also has a cameo role in the film which is slated to be released in May next year.
Chelsea was approached by Yash Raj earlier with the story line of the film. The release of the film could coincide with a possible Premiership "triple" if Chelsea successfully defends the title this season, a Chelsea release said.
Abhishek, Priety Zinta, and Aishwarya Rai and Lara Dutta all visited Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea headquarters, recently to attend matches against Charlton and Liverpool.
Abhishek, who plays a character called Rikki in the film said, "The character I play in the film is of a very loyal Chelsea fan. I have now had the chance to see Chelsea live after following them over the last few years and the club have given me a jersey with my character's name Rikki on it, so that was fun.”
"A friend of mine introduced me to Chelsea. I enjoy their football and the way they play. The Premier League is very popular in India and Chelsea has a huge support over there and it is growing all the time," he said.
Chelsea's Business Affairs director Paul Smith said the club was happy to be involved in the project.
"Naturally we are delighted to be involved in a Bollywood movie and we take it as a big compliment to be approached with this story line and to be associated with this calibre of actors and actresses," Smith said.
"Bollywood is not just one of the most successful movie genres in the world, it is also one of the most successful art forms as it has a unique character and popularity," Smith said.
"From a Chelsea perspective, we have been looking at ways to reach out to the Brit-Asian community and play a leading role by involving them more in football.”
"We already host the Asian Cup Final, and have done so for several years, and we are now sponsoring a major Asian community award in London,” he added.
Smith said the club was looking to India as part of an effort to expand its brand. "We are also looking to Asia, particularly India, as part of the strategy of extending the Chelsea brand into new markets," the Business Affairs director of the club said.
"Nothing compares with the glamour and appeal of Bollywood and its stars. Making a connection to the new football fans of India through Bollywood confirms Chelsea's status as the leading Premiership club."
Chelsea has an estimated 3.8 million fans in the UK and 20 millions worldwide according to an independent research by Sport Markt, a leading German research company.
The Bollywood film industry is estimated to have an annual turnover of 1.5 billion US dollars and global ticket sales of 3.6 billion compared to Hollywood's 2.6 billion.