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In a rehearsal studio in Shanti Niketan,a group of expatriates is trying to perfect the fine art of jhatkas,that inimitable hip movement that actresses have made famous in countless Hindi blockbusters

Written by RICHA BHATIA |
April 14, 2011 4:38:13 am

A Bollywood dance contest in Delhi will have expats swinging to Munni and gyrating to Om Shanti Om

In a rehearsal studio in Shanti Niketan,a group of expatriates is trying to perfect the fine art of jhatkas,that inimitable hip movement that actresses have made famous in countless Hindi blockbusters. Nouha Schrambock,a Syrian national,is among them. Kitted out in a grey track suit,this 37-year-old mother of two is swinging with much vigour to Munni Badnaam Hui from Dabangg,matching the stunning Malaika Arora with her flexibility. “Bollywood dance is a great exercise and a lot similar to belly-dancing that I learned as a girl,” she giggles. She leans forward and whispers,“I believe there is a Munni in everybody,it is just waiting to come out”. On Friday,Schrambock and the others will unleash their inner Munnis at the second Bollywood International Dance contest,being held for expats in a Gurgaon farmhouse.

Around 70 expats are participating in this contest,organised by Foxy Steppers,an event management company. The participants have been divided into seven teams who will present their best Bollywood moves on stage. They will be judged on parameters such as presentation,poise and improvisation. “For most expats,Bollywood is a form of aerobics. It will be very upsetting if a group simply copies the steps. I am looking forward to a formula or a theme that they present on stage,” says vocalist-entrepreneur Sumana Das Gupta,one of the three judges.

The Munni Badnaam Hui number will open the event and Schrambock is complementing her dance moves with a lehenga worth Rs 15,000 and is on a look out for a maang tikka. “I am not sure whether I will be wearing a neck piece but I want to finish my look with a maang tikka,” she insists. The mood in the studio is electric. From across the floor,a petite Hungarian woman,attired in a red skirt and a blouse,gestures impatiently to the choreographer,and yells,“Can we just try dancing,off the stage please” as the others break into laughter at her anxiety.

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They are part of a 13-member group led by Kirat Sodhi,the only other Indian in the group,and the only man. “He is playing the Salman Khan character Chulbul Pandey from Dabangg. It is great to have a male member in the group,” says Zsuzsa Pakozdy,a Hungarian. She is a gymnast and has never danced in her life but she has been taking her Bollywood dance lessons seriously. She also accompanied the others to source bangles from Hanuman Mandir and picked up skirts from Old Delhi and Dilli Haat. The group has also been asked by their choreographer to wear payals and are searching for the perfect pairs.

Most expats who are participating in the contest acknowledge that they do not understand Hindi or the suggestive words of the songs they are tapping to. But they enjoy the dance routines,and that seems to suffice. “I love the bling,” says Melinda Ruck,a tall Hungarian,who has been learning Bollywood dance for a year. Meimi Furihata,winner of the first edition of Bollywood International Dance,is leading a group of 13 Japanese expats who will be swinging to Dhoom Tana from Om Shanti Om.

Until recently,most expats living in the Capital stayed clear of the three-hour-long song-and-dance epics that Bollywood films are. “Most foreigners don’t quite like the music when they first come to India. Now,Bollywood seems to have become the best dance music,” says the Danish Lotte Hansen,who is leading her group that will perform to a number from I Hate Luv Storys. This embrace of Bollywood by expats hasn’t taken the choreographer and organiser Vikram Samson by surprise. “Bollywood is not just an industry,it is a cultural movement. For foreigners living in India,it is the best way to learn about the culture,” he said.

Contact: vikramsamson@aim.com

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