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sarpyl's gossip journalism

BOLLYWOOD : RAAVAN :- Vikram and our bonding stopped at my bedroom door: Ash

Even a ``torturous'' 200-day-long shoot in inaccessible jungles couldn't drive Bollywood's power couple apart. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan told reporters that they're so used to working together that the particularly difficult conditions on the set of ``Raavan'' hadn't sown any seeds of matrimonial discord. The couple, who married in 2007, were in Cannes during the film festival here to drum up publicity for ``Raavan,'' the latest effort by acclaimed Indian director Mani Ratnam.

Loosely based on characters from Hindu mythology, the movie tells the story of a thief who kidnaps a woman to avenge his sister's death. The big-budget film is set partly in dense jungles and has plenty of action numbers, in addition to the song-and-dance routines that are de rigeur in Indian movies.

``You're drenched from six in the morning till seven in the evening; the day starts with a trek, going to locations and then you muddy yourself, dirty yourself, get into costume. It's just a very demanding, consuming experience from moment to moment,'' Rai Bachchan, a former Miss World who's now a spokes model for French cosmetics giant L'Oreal.

``It was special: When you have a long, tiring day on a daily basis for a long schedule, you come home and you have each other,'' she said. ``There was a slight advantage there, but the days were long, so you'd really be so bushed and the next morning was so early that you barely had any time for any T.L.C.''

The shoot was doubly harrowing for Rai Bachchan, who plays the same character in two separate versions of the film, one in Hindi and another in Tamil _ which is spoken in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Bachchan only stars in the Hindi version, while actor Vikram _ known by only one name _ plays his role in the Tamil version.

Rai Bachchan said director Ratnam, whose film credits include the 1998 Bollywood mega-hit ``Dil Se,'' used a clever ruse to convince her to accept the grueling task of playing the part in both versions of the movie. First he asked her to play in the Tamil movie, but the next time he brought up the project, he said it would be made in Hindi, Rai Bachchan said.

Some time later, ``very gently he broke it to me he was considering also making it in Tamil. So I think he just put it that way for me, psychologically, to take in that information,'' she said, adding ``This was probably his ploy, it was probably always his plan.'' Rai Bachchan said she and her husband made a conscious effort not to leave out their Tamil co-star, Vikram, often dining and hanging out with him after the shoots.

Bachchan added, ``Just to set the record straight, that was purely professional that we included him in everything, before we all let our imaginations go wild. The camaraderie stopped at the bedroom door. Beyond that, it was the two of us.''

Both versions of ``Raavan'' are to be released in June.

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