All photos by Chantelle D’mello
Thousands of crazed fans gathered at the D-Ring Road Lulu Hypermarket in Qatar yesterday to catch a glimpse of film star Kareena Kapoor, one of Bollywood’s most familiar faces.
The actress made her first visit to Doha last night to attend the inauguration of one of the largest Indian jewelry franchises, opening the sixth Qatar branch of Malabar Gold and Diamonds.
Kapoor is one of the brand’s newest ambassadors, and comes from a country where film stars are often put on a pedestal by their subcontinental fans, many of whom live in extreme poverty.
Analysts say that the $4.5 billion film industry has diversified its movie offerings in recent years, but still nets the majority of its profits from peddling fantastical and escapist cinema full of action, grandeur, and colorful musicals.
For those in the diaspora – including many of Qatar’s 700,000 Indian expats, the Gulf country’s largest demographic group – Bollywood serves as a tether to their homeland, acting as a sort of “binding element” to their native culture and traditions, according to one film house executive.
Cheering and screaming
Last night, crowds of people screamed and jostled each other in excitement near the makeshift stage in the hypermarket’s parking lot as the actress arrived.
Fans, some of whom had lined up almost six hours prior to the actress’s arrival, waved printed pictures of Kapoor and brandished autograph notebooks as she sang, danced and took pictures with the crowd.
“Thank you for all the love that you’ve shown me. It means a lot. I didn’t expect such a huge turnout…I won’t forget this,” Kapoor said in English.
Several dignitaries, including the Indian Ambassador to Qatar and his wife, also attended the opening, speaking to the actress after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The visit comes several days after Kapoor’s well-attended visit to open another branch in Abu Dhabi.
The occasion also marked the first sales of several of the brand’s collections, most of which feature handcrafted gold, diamonds, and other precious stones.
Did you catch a glimpse of Kapoor? Thoughts?