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Berlin jury duty for Aamir Khan

Aamir Khan, 44, has made a name for himself as one of the most bankable Bollywood stars on and off screen (AFP)


Bollywood star Aamir Khan will bring some Indian spice to the jury at the 61st Berlin film festival next month, organisers said Friday.

The seven-person jury, headed by Italian-American actress Isabella Rossellini, is tasked with picking the winner of the coveted Golden and Silver Bear prizes in the February 10 to 20 festival in the German capital.

Australian film producer Jan Chapman, German actress Nina Hoss, Canadian film-maker Guy Maddin, British costume designer Sandy Powell and Iranian director Jafar Panahi complete the line-up.

However, Panahi's place on the jury will be left symbolically empty, as he was handed six years in jail in December and banned from making films or leaving Iran for 20 years.

"There has been worldwide protest against this verdict that violates the right to freedom of opinion and expression," said the festival in a statement.

"The Berlinale is holding a place open in the Jury for Jafar Panahi and in doing so wants to signal its support for his struggle for freedom."

The festival features a financial crisis thriller starring Kevin Spacey and Demi Moore and a French 3D animated feature, amongst others.

In all, it features 22 films in its main programme including 16 in the running for the festival's prizes.

Khan, 44, has made a name for himself as one of the most bankable Bollywood stars on and off screen, shunning the conveyor belt of song and dance-laden films for more contemporary themes and unconventional subject matter.

As a producer, he has been hoping it would be third time lucky at this year's Oscars, after his latest movie was chosen as India's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Two other films he produced have previously been selected as India's official Oscar entry. However, 'Peepli Live' has not made the shortlist.

The Berlinale, one of the world's top film festivals, will open with a remake of the classic Western "True Grit" by the Oscar-winning brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.