Hollywood icon Richard Gere Wednesday evening swayed to the tunes of catchy Bollywood numbers at a glittering event aimed at spreading AIDS awareness that saw participation of over 10,000 sex workers in India's entertainment capital.
Gere, dressed in a pair of black trousers, matching shirt and a brown jacket, danced to Bollywood actress Bipasha Basu's "Beedi Jalaile" to the delight of the mixed gathering of the commercial sex workers and the glitterati at the MMRDA grounds at the Bandra-Kurla complex.
Visibly overwhelmed by the level of support from the sex workers towards the community-led HIV prevention efforts, he said: "This is unfathomable in the US, Europe or anywhere else in the world. You have a sense of community and sprit of love for one another that only grows. You are truly unique."
Urging the sex workers to say no to unsafe sex, he asked the gathering to repeat after him the slogan of "No condoms no sex".
"It is inspiring to witness the convergence of societal leaders, community members, civil servants and celebrities to acknowledge the incomparable efforts of my friends (sex workers) in playing a central role in HIV prevention," the actor said.
The event, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Richard Gere's Heroes Project, saw sex workers affirm their commitment to the cause.
Gere also handed over awards to groups of sex workers in recognition of their contribution towards spreading awareness about the disease.
Lending support to the awareness project, Bipasha performed her popular number on stage with a number of commercial sex workers.
Although it was Bipasha who burned up the stage floor, she was modest to admit that she really had a great time dancing with the women.
"I just danced in the middle. It was they who really danced well and were swinging to it. As for any dance number I always depend on dancers and these women really were great," Bipasha told IANS later.
Event anchor Mandira Bedi kept up the tempo of the show, while actor Urmila Matondkar spoke about society's collective role in fighting HIV/AIDS. Singer Shan and TV host Shweta Salve put up separate performances along with a host of TV stars.