Hooray for Bollywood!

A Slice of Britain: One thousand competitors, crammed into a London hotel, prove that Indian dance has never been more popular

With thick make-up, dyed aubergine hair, a bright turquoise shalwar kameez and bindi sparkling on her forehead, Karina Gniazdowska blends into the crowd of Asian girls around her. That, she tells me, is the point.

"No one believes me when I say I'm Polish," says the 18-year-old, who has lived in Reading for the past three years. "I wear these clothes when I'm not performing, too: I love them. I love everything about Bollywood: the music, the storylines..."

She is in her element. Traditional Indian music blares down a corridor of the London St Giles Hotel yesterday, now filled with women sporting saris, jangling gold bangles, bare feet and heavily kohled eyes. Karina is one of around 1,000 people competing in the first round of the UK Bollywood Dance Championships, the winner of which will bag a role in a Bollywood film.

As the worldwide market for Bollywood films has grown – boosted by the phenomenal success of the British director Danny Boyle's runaway hit Slumdog Millionaire in 2009 – so too have the opportunities in the Indian film industry for non-Asian stars, with Kylie Minogue, Denise Richards and Sylvester Stallone all appearing in Bollywood films in recent years.

The hopefuls here today will have to jump through several hoops to secure their own big-screen role. Three hundred people will go through to the second round of the competition in May, before the numbers are whittled down to 50 for the final at the O2 Arena in July.

With slicked-back hair and all-black outfit, Rahul Velani, 11, looks the complete professional. Or he would, were he not sitting cross-legged on the floor hunched over his Nintendo DS.

His mother, Sara, 42, is taking a bit more interest in proceedings. "I do quite enjoy it," she says, smoothing her pink kurta, a traditional Indian top. "He got through to the third round of Britain's Got Talent. The downside is the travelling."

If the glamorous professional dancers of Bollywood Vibes, who make a living performing at weddings and corporate events, are less than impressed with the sticky carpet underfoot and the flashing neon lights, they certainly aren't showing it.

Rictus grins in place, the six girls shimmy through their performance, coin belts jangling in time with the music, hands twirling elegantly into a prayer position to finish. It goes well, but Olivia Heiser, 32, admits they may struggle with the singing required in most Bollywood films. "We're all professional dancers, but we don't sing at all. Only one of us has a good voice."

Members of the all-girl dance troupe Storm, meanwhile, sport sheer red trousers slashed from thigh to ankle and tiny cropped corsets. All around there is more than enough pale flesh. Indeed, Western performers' willingness to peel off their clothes for roles has been cited as one of the reasons behind what may be a growing backlash in some sections of the Indian community. Last month an Indian nationalist politician called for white actresses to be banned from Bollywood.

But not everyone is convinced Brits have got what it takes to cut it in Indian cinema. A Brit herself, dance teacher Daisy Potter, who runs Bollywood classes in schools in London, says: "They don't really have a natural aptitude. Bollywood is about rhythm, hip movements, and the flow of the body, which a lot of people don't have."

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices