Actor Preity Zinta to pen column for BBC website

MUMBAI: Entertainment takes pride of place. Even on the "Old Aunty."

Come 2 February and Bollywood glam doll Preity Zinta will be joining the BBC as a columnist for it's website

That the top Bollywood actor who's stared in hits like Dil Chahta Hai, Koi... Mil Gaya and Kal Ho Naa Ho gets much higher billing than a heavyweight line up of some of South Asia's most respected commentators including best selling author Ahmed Rashid, renowned economist Kaushik Basu and leading sports writer Rohit Brijnath, says a lot.

Zinta will write on a varied range of topics and will not be restricting herself to topics relating to the film industry only. She has been quoted in a company release as saying, "This column is something very interesting and a totally new experience for me. It is also a good platform to air my views on a variety of subjects as I am a pretty outspoken person,"

In her first column which will be available at from 2 February, she looks at the changing face of Bollywood and the films to watch out for in 2004. "It is going to be an exciting year because our young filmmakers are challenging the old order. They are instrumental in sculpting Bollywood's new, changing face," she says. Zinta will be donating her fee as a columnist for the BBC to a charity she supports in Punjab.

Said editor Bernard Gabony, "She (Zinta) completes what we think is the most impressive team of columnists writing on South Asian affairs anywhere on the Internet." has been repeatedly voted the best news website in the world. It is run by a large team of journalists in London and also has a network of correspondents across India. Along with Zinta the site also boasts of best selling author Ahmed Rashid. Another writer the BBC has is Kaushik Basu, who analyses India's prospects in the global economy. Basu is Marks Professor of International Studies and Professor of Economics and Director of Program on Comparative Economic Development at Cornell University in US.

Completing the new BBC line up is Rohit Brijnath, one of India's best known sports writers who has been covering sport for 17 years. He has covered the Olympic Games, Asian Games, World Cup cricket, grand slam tennis events and numerous cricket tours. Brijnath, who is known for his breezy writing style and frank views, will be writing on sports and sporting personalities in the subcontinent.

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