Charan Pradhan is at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh, teaching exotic Bollywood dances to a mixed crowd of Asians and Scots, all of whom want a bit of desi style. Pradhan, 40, looks the part, dressed in a silver tunic and an orange turban. When he lived in Nepal, Pradhan did some choreography for Bollywood films and even acted in a few. He also choreographed Bollywood moves for television shows, but this is the first Bollywood class he ever held.
Bollywood is becoming more mainstream in Scotland. It's used to sell everything from banks to lager. "A lot of the people who have come along to my dance classes say they are doing it because they saw a Bollywood movie," says Pradhan, who has a degree in dance from the University of Coventry. Now, fans of the world's most popular films can learn to move like their favourite stars. Pradhan takes enthusiasts through dance routines from blockbuster films and his classes have started drawing crowds to this club near the Scottish Parliament. The Bongo Club decided to host the classes after receiving requests from film fans.
Pradhan first came to the attention of the Bongo Club when he performed at the grand opening of their new Holyrood Road venue. Manager Ally Hill said: "Charan performed at our opening night and was just sensational. It really is quite something to see. It looks amazing and it is a dancing style that is so full of life. I think there could be quite a big market for it, given the reaction we have had so far, at our first few classes."
Bollywood is the world's most successful film industry in terms of global ticket sales. Long and elaborate song-and-dance routines are a staple of most Bollywood classics. The popularity of the films in Scotland was highlighted by last year's visit of megastar Shah Rukh Khan, dubbed 'the Indian Tom Cruise', who was mobbed at the Edinburgh film festival.
The Bollywood industry produces up to 1,000 movies a year, a quarter of the world's films, in about 20 languages. It exports its films to 95 countries, with the biggest percentage going to the United States, Britain and Canada. India's 13,000 cinema halls have a daily audience of around 15 million. The popularity of Bollywood films in Scotland has encouraged producers to record movies here. One of Shah Rukh Khan's biggest hit movies, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, was shot in Scotland in 1999 at Loch Lomond, Glencoe and Tantallon Castle, in East Lothian.
The popularity of the genre has also influenced Western cinema, with hits such as The Guru, incorporating colourful Bollywood-style dance routines. Dana MacLeod, who works for Out of the Blue Arts & Education Trust and the Bongo Club, said the classes were another sign that Bollywood was becoming part of mainstream Scottish culture. "Bollywood is so huge in India and it is the modern dance style for all the children out there, but it's very different to Western styles. That is why Charan is so good, in that he manages to make it accessible to anyone who comes along to his class. I think it has taken a while for the Indian culture to really come through here, but now it is everywhere. There are Bollywood movies on the television, and Bollywood imagery is used in everything from the Bank of Scotland to Tennents lager [adverts], which I think gives you some idea of how far it can go."
(Source: Evening News)