She came, she saw, and, if gushing tweets are to be believed, she conquered. American talk show diva Oprah Winfrey arrived in Mumbai on Jan. 16, and Bollywood's first family rolled out the proverbial red carpet for her.
Patriarch Amitabh Bachchan drove her around the city, daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai presented her an orange-and-gold sari while son Abhishek accompanied her around town. Endearing photos of Winfrey and the Bachchans were plastered on the Web, including one of Amitabh Bachchan driving the car – that too in a country where chauffeurs are a given – with Oprah in the back seat, dressed in the Tarun Tahiliani sari gifted to her by Rai.
"The gracious Oprah Winfrey visits our home, to meet us and bless the baby...warm hearted, endearing...drive her to party in her honor. And Oprah in sari...looking lovely!!" Amitabh Bachchan tweeted.
Winfrey landed in Mumbai without any fanfare, the Hollywood Reporter noted, and checked into the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel where she was welcomed and garlanded, while eight visually challenged boys from the charity Happy Home sang a song “Swagatam.”
Her first social call was to the Bachchan home, from where the first family drove her to a private party at the home of socialite Parmeshwar Godrej. There she met with Bollywood glitterati, including novelist Shobha De, jewelry designer Farah Khan Ali, filmmakers Ashutosh Gowariker and Rajkumar Hirani, as well as actors Anupam Kher, his son Sikander Kher, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta, Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty and husband Raj Kundra, Abhay Deol with actress-girlfriend Preeti Desai, Lara Dutta, Dino Morea, Sameera Reddy, Kalki Koechlin, Kangana Ranaut, Anil Kapoor and Imran Khan, Indo Asian News Service reported. The guests gushed on tweets about their meeting with Oprah.
"My god! Oprah Winfrey is the warmest most down to earth person I have ever met! What a personality! I'm thrilled," Sameera Reddy said. And a very pregnant Lara Dutta said her meeting with Winfrey, made her day. “Now I can go into labor happily!” IANS quoted her as saying. “Met #Oprahwinfrey an awesome woman... spent an unforgettable magical evening in her presence!” director Madhur Bhandarkar tweeted.
The talk-show queen showed her appreciation, noting on her Twitter page - "Was so great meeting you and all the beautiful Bollywooders. Directors, poets, screenwriters, what a nite!"
Winfrey also made a quick trip to designer Manish Malhotra’s place in Juhu, The Times of India reported. She picked out two churidaar-kurtas and a sari. The items included an emerald chikankari outfit with Kashmiri work and velvet finish and a deep red georgette with antique gold embroidery.
"She was floored by the wine chiffon sari with black lace applique with a corset, thus giving her a contemporary young Indian feel," Malhotra is quoted as saying in the Times.
Other Indians were also thrilled about Winfrey's visit; many wished she was coming to their corner. In a message on Oprah.com, fan Malliarjun, says, “hello Oprah welcome to India just visit bengaluru once..." And Rashi pleads, “Oprah welcum to India ... cum to Amritsar plzzzzzzzz ... wish i could meet u too :(:( .”
But it wasn't a social whirl for Winfrey, who is visiting the country to film her program, "Oprah's Next chapter." While in Mumbai, she made sure to also cover the slums that offer a stark contrast to the wealth she witnessed in India's financial capital.
"For my new show, called the 'Oprah's Next Chapter,' I am doing a story all about India, and I wanted to see all aspects of India to see a broad view of what it is like to be an Indian. It is very revealing and I would say amazing to me ... so I met the people from Bollywood and other aspects," Winfrey told reporters after her visit to a slum in Colaba.
She took away a common denominator from the wealth and poverty – close family networks. "What I love the most about this country is their tolerance ... How the families learn to love and live together! When I was in America and talking to famous people, I would ask how you live with your parents ... now I see how you do it," she was quoted as saying.
She plans to cover quite a bit of territory during her Jan. 16-22 visit, moving from New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
Her schedule includes three days at Jaipur, where Hollywood Reporter said she would shoot a major portion of her segment on India. She was also scheduled to film at the Taj Mahal, and at Rishikesh.
According to the Times of India, Oprah was to land in Jaipur in a special chartered plane Jan. 20, spending her first day at Jaipur City Palace hosted by the royal family there. She was scheduled to interview Deepak Chopra at the palace; the interview was to cover Ayurveda and mind-body medicine.
She was expected to spend the last day of her visit at the literature festival, Jan. 22, before flying back.