Preity Zinta, a popular and recognisable star associated with box-office hits like ‘Veer Zaara’ and ‘Dil Se’, will receive an honorary degree from Birmingham City University (BCU) in the New Year.
The 48-year-old co-owner of the Punjab Kings Indian Premier League (IPL) team, who was in Birmingham recently as a special guest at the West Midlands Diwali festivities, will be formally presented her honorary degree by BCU in India next year.
Zinta said: "It's a tremendous privilege to be receiving this honorary doctorate from – especially given its strengths in business and media that chime so well with my own career.”
The actor-producer joined Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), last weekend for a series of exciting events in conjunction with the Consulate General of India (CGI). The events included a star-studded gala dinner at Millennium Point and a programme at Birmingham Town Hall.
Mayor Andy Street said: "I am absolutely delighted to welcome Preity G. Zinta to Birmingham and our vibrant region. Her forthcoming honorary doctorate from BCU is a testament to her remarkable contributions to both and her philanthropic endeavours.”
Zinta received a rapturous reception from Indian students enrolled at Birmingham's colleges and universities as well as the city and wider region’s substantial South Asian community.
Professor David Mba, the Vice Chancellor of , said: "We are thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Preity Zinta into the Birmingham City University family and hope to work closely with her, exploring exciting opportunities spanning from Indian cinema to entrepreneurship.
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"Preity's exceptional contributions to the global stage of filmmaking are truly inspiring. This is an exceptional moment for our dedicated staff, aspiring students, and for the dynamic city of Birmingham and the wider region."
Zinta’s life story has captivated audiences worldwide – especially so in the Indian subcontinent, Asia and the Middle East. The winner of two Filmfare Awards, the actor has a string of blockbusters to her name. She has also made charitable contributions, both as a former UNAIDS ambassador and member of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council.
Her visit to the region coincided with the Birmingham Indian Film Festival, Europe’s largest platform for Indian and South Asian cinema as an off shoot of the . It spotlighted the West Midlands as an option for filming locations for Bollywood movies, with upcoming feature films ‘Mom Tane Nai Samjay’ and ‘Coke’ shot in the region earlier this year. The region also has a growing screen sector, with new creative assets such as Digbeth Loc Studios set up by ‘Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight. The venture is expected to boost the region’s creative economy already worth £4 billion.
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Neil Rami, Chief Executive of the Growth Company (WMGC), said: “The West Midlands’ screen sector is thriving and on top of that we have one of the youngest, most diverse populations in Europe.
"We want to see more Indian films produced here to take advantage of our many beautiful filming locations – from the urban city centres of Wolverhampton and to the Georgian splendour of Coventry and Leamington Spa – to nurture the talent we have and bring more investment into this sector across the region."