Foreign Actors Invade the Bollywood Television Scene
New research shows that Mumbai has been inundated with foreign actors hoping to make some serious money in the most successful musical film industry in the world.
One of the most recent TV dramas to hit the Indian screens is Firangi Bahu, which translates to ‘Foreign Daughter-in-Law’. This new programme is a narrative of cultural clash and the change in social reform, pretty deep ideologies, far removed from the tradition Bollywood theme.
The new take on the traditionally Indian dominated sector has well and truly evolved. But, how has that left the state of the industry?
This particular show follows an Indian family, the Gujarati family, who are introducing a new member to their home. She is a tall, blonde European, signifying the shift in the Bollywood archetype.
The woman who bagged this role, Sippora Anna Zoutewelle, says getting these big jobs really isn’t about talent but your connections.
“I think you need to be lucky,” she says. “To get the big roles is not easy because over here it’s not only about talent but also about who you know. If you’re in a rich family or you know a lot of people it’s easy, they’ll just launch you. They’ll make a movie for you.
“Being an outsider it’s easy to get a role, but it’s difficult to be here for the long term – to do more than just one movie.”
Many Mumbai directors have commented on these requirements for foreign dancers and actors, saying that the demand is due to a lack of want to duplicate Europeans across the board. Directors are wanting to feature different girls in each and every production.
“We need more foreigners because we can’t repeat them in every film,” says Mr Chhabra.
“There are very few foreigners who are good actors who want to stay in Bollywood. Most of the good actors go to Hollywood. But if they stayed here, they’d definitely get more work.”
Foreign girls provide an exoticism that the industry so famously craves for. They are even attracting Welsh girls to assist them with their films.
Lisa Lazarus seeks a career in modelling so went to India to chase her dream. She had never been to the country prior to her first film there, coming all the way from a little town in Wales.
“If you do come out here you’ve got to be prepared to work and dedicate yourself to it,” says the former Miss Llanelli.
“Nothing about it was easy,” she says of her first experience of a Bollywood shoot. “It took a lot of time and pressure, I’d go home crying a few times after 24 hours of filming… long hours, long days. One of my dresses weighed 15 kilos. Try wearing that for three weeks.”
“It was something I was so passionate about. It didn’t seem like hard work to me.”
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