Brand Loyalty

By First Posted: Dec 10, 2006 Sun 11:30 AM Updated: Dec 7, 2007 Fri 12:25 AM

Aishwarya Rai has been off cinema screens for over an year. With the brief exception of a role as Sexy Sam, a rich NRI, Amitabh Bachchan too has been out of sight. But not out of mind, it seems. Both Rai and Bachchan have transcended their day jobs, emerging as the raja and rani of the ratings game yet again, though their voting percentages seem to have dipped. Rai has clearly overcome poor reviews to become Indian glamours international face, and with a series of high profile Bollywood movies such as Umrao Jaan and Dhoom 2, Umrao Jaan didnt crack any dhoom in the box office and Dhoom 2s prediction will take a little time, and Guru film is yet to be released, still Aishwarya Rai means business as well. Abhishek Bachans ascent into the No.2 position, tied with Aamir Khan, who has had a fantastic return to form, and Shah Rukh Khan, who continue to be Indias hottest star globally, suggests Indians are in the mood for novelty. Not in everything, though. Regional loyalities stay firm and strong. Sunny Deol is No. 1 in Punjab, as are actors Vishnu Vardhan in Karnataka and Vijaykanth in Tamil Nadu. Theres no such divide among women, except in West Bengal, where Rani Mukherjee ties at first place with Rai, and quirkily among Buddhists, where Lara Dutta beats even Rai (perhaps because of a long-standing relationship with Lelly Dorjee). Students and young people have voted for Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan in equal measure while among rural students, Ajay Devgan leads the pack- taking over from Salman Khan as the working class hero. As for Aamir Khan, next time Narendra Modis Gujurat flexes his muscles, tell him about Kerela and Uttaranchal who love him more than Bachchan senior.

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