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Monday, April 13, 2009

Britain's first drama school for wannabe Bollywood stars

Posted: Apr 13, 2009

Call it 'Slumdog Millionaire' effect or pure economics, but Britain's first acting school dedicated to nurturing talents for the popular Indian film industry, Bollywood, began classes with 13 students in the first batch. 

The Ealing Institute of Media set up by veteran Indian actor Anupam Kher welcomed its first batch of proteges, most of whom are giving up lucrative careers in law and finance to pursue their 'filmi' dreams. The course has been praised by Slumdog director Danny Boyle, who was invited to take a master class at the west London school. All the students are of British Asian origin, like 22-year-old Basit Kirmani. The Cambridge pass-out whose parents are from Pakistan, gave up a 25,000 pound a year position to study "Larger than life Acting, Melodrama, and Exaggeration", the ‘Telegraph’ reported. 

"Bollywood is part of who I am, I was 11 when I saw my first Bollywood film, and I've never forgotten it. My parents, who are from Pakistan, have reservations, but accept that I worked very hard at university," said the aspiring actor. 

"Bollywood has a magic they can't resist," said Anupam Kher who is known to British audiences for his work in films like 'Bend It Like Beckham' and 'Bride and Prejudice'. 

"We now get engineers and doctors auditioning. The view of these young people seems to be 'we have done what our parents wanted us to do. Now it is our turn,” said Kher. 

"Most drama schools don't take many Asians because, unlike Afro-Caribbean actors who have crossed over and now play a wide range of roles, Asians are still largely typecast as doctors, shopkeepers and, latterly, terrorists," said Adam Fahey, director of media at Ealing College. Model Sabeeka Imam, 23, believes that her greatest asset is her fluency in Urdu and Hindi. 

"I was bullied at school for speaking it, but I'm so thankful to my mother that she insisted we did," said Imam, whose parents are both doctors. 

The three month course which costs a good 4,000 pounds will teach students acting, dancing, martial arts and yoga. At the end of the course, each of the seven trainees will travel 4,500 miles from the Ealing Institute of Media to Kher's acting school in Bombay, where they will be introduced to contacts who can give them a headstart on the estimated 10,000 people who arrive in the city every day with dreams of stardom.


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