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Ash to team up with Douglas?

Oscar-winning US star Michael Douglas is hoping to sign Bollywood darling Aishwarya Rai for his next adventure flick, Racing the Monsoon , to be shot in India, media reports say.

“Aishwarya and I met in Los Angeles last year – some months ago – where it was discussed we should work together. Hope things work out,” a leading newspaper quoted the veteran US actor as saying in Mumbai. Rai, 31, a former Miss World and one of the highest-paid actresses in India’s prolific movie industry, starred in the recently released British film Bride and Prejudice , an adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel.

Racing the Monsoon will be the third part in an adventure trilogy, following the films Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile which hit screens 20 years ago. “Right now we’re developing the screenplay (for Racing the Monsoon) and hope to begin production in early 2006,” Douglas, who was visiting Mumbai on a scouting mission, told the paper.

There was no immediate comment available about the movie from Rai who told US television audiences last month she had never had an on-screen Bollywood kiss but that did not mean she would not smooch in a Hollywood movie.

Kissing is considered taboo in Indian cinema where song-and-dance sequences are often used as metaphors for steamy passion. “I’ve seen bits of Bride and Prejudice and Raincoat starring Aishwarya, but I must admit I’m no expert on Indian films or Bollywood,” Douglas added. Douglas said the film, a US-Indian joint production whose plot involves a diamond train heist, will be shot in India. He said he got the idea for the film from a newspaper article about “ angadias (couriers) in India who travel on trains carrying diamonds. So I chose India as the backdrop for the film.”

The newspaper said the film was expected to cost $65 million. Douglas, who will produce the film and play one of the co-conspirators, told The Indian Express he would bring his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, for the shooting. “I promised my wife I won’t expose myself too much to this country until she comes with me, said Douglas, who returned to the United States on Monday. “She has always wanted to visit India.” afp

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