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Bollywood Dancing Enjoys Popularity After 'Slumdog' Oscars

  • Daniel Ryntjes

With its eight Oscars, including one for Best Picture, Slumdog Millionaire has become one of the most successful independent movies of all time.

The closing sequence - with its Bollywood-style dance - is inspiring Americans in Virginia to try something new.

Kajal Mehta, from the Dhoonya Dance School and Performance Company, says attendance at her classes has increased dramatically since the film came out.

"...people just listening to that music and seeing the dancing at the end got everyone really excited," she says. "It just created a bigger interest, not only just in dance and music, but in India as a country as well."

Many of the new students are looking to spice up their normal fitness class or gym program.

Alex Mateo is learning the dances for the first time. She says traditional Indian steps are trickier than they look.

"I am definitely fascinated with Asian culture," she says. "I've been fascinated since college and definitely I've seen Slumdog Millionaire many times, and so it seemed like a really fun cultural thing to do."

Seema Khadar is at the advanced level. She says she is reviving a childhood interest.

"For years, I didn't do anything, except the mom thing - big mistake! You need something for yourself, and this is just, this is me. Bollywood is me."

Khadar says the dance class provides her with an opportunity to express both the American and Indian parts of her identity.

"It's just like me because I'm from India, but I was born and raised here, so it's melding me together, too."

Bollywood refers to Indian cinema created in Mumbai, formerly Bombay. Many of the movies feature dance extravaganzas and melodrama.

Now some Indian production houses have signed deals with Hollywood studios.

Dance instructor Kajal Mehta says that's making her feel upbeat.

"I think the more people see, people in the U.S. kind of embrace it all, it's going to be better for us as a business, but it's just more exciting to see."

She hopes the rising popularity of Indian music and dance will push U.S. movie studios to integrate Bollywood elements in some of their productions.

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