Foreign Students in Bollywood Want to Leave Their Mark

Foreign Students in Bollywood
Most foreign students who are here in Mumbai, enrolled in various film related courses, want to leave their mark in-spite of the several odds against them.

Opportunities for Students Learning in Mumbai

Most foreign students at acting schools in Mumbai do dream of a competitive Bollywood career as they perfect their dancing moves. Most of them already know a lot about Indian actors, dialogues and Bollywood.

Women, as per course coordinators at various film schools, stand a better chance in a film industry that is always looking for fair and lovely newbies to pair opposite older, established male actors. “How the career pans out for the boys will depend on whether they’re here with dreams to become a hero or an actor”.

Understanding Indian Cinema

A lot of them are not uncritical fans of Bollywood too. They find the dialogues to be too heavy and stylised and the films are often hero-centric, complain few students who prefer documentary-style filmmaking. Some of them have recently started discovering the joys of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Satyajit Ray cinema and wonder why such films are no longer made.

But then most do get Bollywoods USP. To give up the grandness means killing what makes it unique in the first place.

Foreigners are Bagging Prestigious Projects

But many others believe that with the globalization of Indian cinema, the lines are blurring. “Ensemble films are on the rise and if a film uses an international backdrop, one or two of the key characters can easily be non-Indians,” says a hopeful Sharma.

Foreign technicians like cinematographer Carlos Catalan and music director Wayne Sharp have bagged prestigious Indian film awards for their work here. This brings hope especially for students like Hari Bhusal and Neev Pradhan, who are natives of a country so close to home, Nepal, and are well-acquainted with both the language and culture of Mumbai.

Stringent Employment Rules for Foreigners

But the stringent employment rules in India make it very difficult for foreigners, as the industry is bound to give preference to members of various film associations in order to safeguard the rights of locals.

Besides, non-Indians need to show a steady income of Rs 12 lakh per annum in order to obtain a work permit. Many foreign students think that India currently enjoys a lot of attention, economically as well as culturally and with studios like Fox setting up offices here and Indian companies like Reliance and Prime Focus growing in Hollywood, a huge talent exchange is on the brink.

Getting Used to India & Mumbai

Irrespective, as of now, foreign students are making an effort to make India their home. Their attempts to adapt and blend in are sometimes inspiring and at others, endearing. “I love Mumbai, now that I’ve made friends here, many from my own country,” says Inyang, who visits the only Nigerian restaurant in Colaba every weekend.

Few, over time, have learnt to not only speak Hindi almost fluently, but also know the city well enough to give directions to his Mumbaikar friends. Some even have learnt the Hindi alphabets and are now trying to understand the formation of words and their meanings.

But then the biggest binding factor for all of them, which they share with Indians, is their passion for Bollywood.

Acting Workshop for USF students at IIFA
Bollywood actor Anupam Kher will conduct an acting workshop for students at the University of South Florida during the Bollywood gala at the 2014 IIFA (International Indian Film Academy). Read more here…