Eastern European dancers getting into costumes A Bollywood cast, including Eastern European dancers
India’s Bollywood film industry, producing over 900 films per year, needs increasingly more dance performers to keep the cameras rolling and the industry fresh and vibrant. The industry has been forced to look abroad, and dancers from Eastern Europe are now heading for India in droves, to earn “black” money.
As Bollywood films get slicker and more global, production values are getting glossier. And that means there is plenty of demand for foreign dancers, to give a film an international look. Zeb Chaudhary, Director of Dansync Entertainment, brings in Eastern European dancers for six month periods to work in Bollywood. The girls come on work permits and he arranges their accommodation, transport and food. They also earn salaries of between $1,500 and $2,000 per month.
Chaudhary said: “Foreigners get to India with a limited amount of cost. No ticket, no visa – we’ve already taken care of everything. So it becomes very easy for Bollywood to coordinate with us, because in Bombay they can make any location and pass it off as Australia or some foreign location.”
Katsiaryna Liashko, a 24-year old dancer from Belarus, is looking forward to working in Bollywood.
“Indian music is easy to listen to and understand, but when you dance Indian dance it is difficult, because for me it is new – different hand movements and eyes. It is very special, but not the same as European.”
Bollywood is known as a dream factory, because it creates larger-than-life dreams for cinema audiences worldwide. For the past several decades it has attracted the best talent from across India, and now it attracts the best talent from across the world. And for every foreigner working in India legally, there are several others working illegally.
With the global slowdown, many foreigners arrive in Mumbai on tourist visas, especially from the Russia and Eastern Europe, and try to get work as dancers and minor actors. And this is causing a major headache for those who’ve travelled there legally, as illegal dancers are often free to charge less. And with hundreds of foreign dancers working in Bollywood today, the competition is intense.