arts
Battle Of Bollywood

Biggest inter-university filmi dance contest coming soon...

Posted: 27.01.15

Whether you like to throw a thumka and shake a leg at a wedding or imitate the hip thrusting moves of your favourite star in front of the television – the fact is, we all have a bit of Bollywood in us. But for the youth of today, who are passionate about dance and actually possess a talent in the art, their moment to shine has arrived. Behold the Battle of Bollywood - the largest inter-university dance competition ever, where the most remarkable Bollywood dance troupes in the country will reveal their performances to a wider audience for the first time, with the winners decided by an expert celebrity judging panel. We spoke with event organisers Rishi Tibrewal and Tushar Singhania, founders of the TURI group, who revealed what we can expect from the event…

What sort of events have you organized in the past?
Our biggest event was held at the Tower of London for the Rajasthani Foundation, which is a charity close to our hearts as we are both Rajasthani. The event played host to 500 people and entertainment was provided by the singer Kumar Sanu. We have also arranged private events, including wedding parties ranging from 100-1000 people. There is a market within the corporate world for their clients or for marketing purposes which we also cater for.

Why did you choose to involve university students and what do you hope to achieve through this initiative?
Since ticket prices for Bollywood shows are quite high, students tend to miss out. By making it more available and accessible, this ensures future generations can maintain their interest without breaking the bank. We wanted to create an annual event aimed at students, that way companies will look to invest into it, as they can market their brand to thousands of UK students, the future leaders of tomorrow as we call it. By doing so, that will drive our costs lower which in turn will keep ticket prices lower, making it much more affordable for students. Competing against each other is what will attract the student audience in – every university has its rival!

Is that why you chose dance in particular?
There are no Bollywood dance competitions in the UK on a big scale, so it made sense to do this. When it comes to Bollywood, what is most appealing and memorable is the item number performed to a song, rather than the actual singer who sang the song in the studio. Everyone has a Bollywood star in them.

What has the response been like so far?
It has been fantastic, students think it’s a great idea and can't believe no one has come up with it already. They think it’s a great way to promote themselves and network with like-minded people, whom they would not be able to meet otherwise. 

Rishi Tibrewal and Tushar Singhania of TURI Group - event organisers of Battle of Bollywood

Does the competition include universities nationwide?
We didn’t want to do just a London based event. We wanted to include everyone, by contacting every Asian society in the UK. The great thing about doing this event every year is that there will be a fresh batch of students to participate year after year.

Have you been impressed by this hidden talent?
We have had people approach us and recommend talented dancers in their home city, who are like mini celebs locally, so we are just giving them the opportunity to showcase their talent. Since all universities organise their own events such as Diwali balls, they have utilised the power of social media such as youtube, by spreading awareness of their talent, as well as gaining recognition and a following. Some of the raw acts are so amazing, being performed in front of 100 people or so, but we really believe this kind of talent needs to be performed in front of thousands on a bigger platform. Having expert judges such as Leena Patel from Bollyflex, Honey Kalaria and Karan Pangali on board, will add that gravitas to take the performances to the next level, with their expertise and feedback.

All judges on talent shows fit into a specific role. What can we expect from the judges?
We have a different mix on the judging panel. Honey has been around for years with her traditional dance and choreography. Karan has performed in India, bringing the Kathak and classical side, as well as being very creative. On a recent show, Karan performed with fire and has even danced whilst elevated in the air! He is very versatile. Leena has worked on Bollywood Showstoppers, dancing with a new age crop of stars, including Shahid Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha and Malaika Arora Khan. All three work well together, in their own way and style. We don’t want to influence how they judge people, as they will be judging people on their own merit.

What kind of drama can guests expect?
The venue will be set up in such a way, where the ground floor is going to be freestanding, meaning all the university supporters will be mixed which should be interesting - I’m sure there will be a lot of boos and cheers! The event will be hosted by BBC Asian Network's Tommy Sandhu and Panjabi Hit Squad. Singing sensation Arjun and the distinct voice behind hits like Baby Doll and Lovely, Kanika Kapoor will be performing on the night. The two will be collaborating in an exclusive performance, which has never been seen before!

How will the show be structured?
We tried to keep it simple, as we wanted to launch the event in a way that isn’t too much of a strain for participants - we didn’t want to put people off. Each dance group will have six minutes to perform to Bollywood music of their choice. Their dance styles can be whatever they wish, from classical to tap. They will only be judged based on those six minutes, with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 20 dancers per team representing their university. There will be a multitude of dance styles featured, allowing participants the flexibility to showcase their talent freely.

How many groups have been selected to perform?
Initially, we were looking for six universities but the response has been overwhelming, so we increased the number to 10. Next year we hope to hold auditions - the hype will build each year!

Will each dramatic aspect of Bollywood be represented in all its glory?
It’s up to the contestants - they have the creative license to conjure up what they feel is the essence of Bollywood amongst their team. We will be sure to witness an encompassing Bollywood spectrum of drama, passion and emotion! It will be interesting to see what the young generation feel Bollywood is all about right now.

What is the winning prize?
There is only one winner, which will create more competition and make it more intense. The winners will receive a huge trophy, automatic entry into next year's event, will be featured in Arjun's next London shot video, Beyond Bollywood premiere night show tickets, as well as Rajiv Goswami choreographing the winning team to perform a flashmob as part of the promotions for the Beyond Bollywood show. 

Most importantly, tell us more about the charity element to the event
We support a charity called Lily Against Human Trafficking. We believe strongly in their incredible work, which attempts to stop the kidnapping of girls aged four to five years old in India, who will otherwise be thrown into a life of prostitution and abuse. They also go to these brothels and with a group of volunteers, physically take these girls back to a safe-house, ensuring they are not kidnapped again. They empower them with skills such as sewing, enabling them to make their own livelihood, reintegrate them back into society and give them the normality they have been deprived of. The foundation work within such limited resources, yet they have achieved so much. They were keen to partner up with us, not just for the fundraising, but also since we are looking to create an event aimed at the youth of UK - they wanted to create awareness of this issue amongst young Asians.

How important is the charity element to your event planning?
We always try to incorporate the element of charity into any event we organise, in fact that’s how we started out. We always want to try and give back and help where we can. Having a charity associated with our event is something we always wanted to do, especially by choosing a cause we strongly believe in and issues that need to be brought to light. The perfect way to highlight such issues is through large scale events, involving a large audience such as this.

Battle of Bollywood takes place on 8th March 2015 at Indigo O2. Ticket prices: £25-£70.
For more details click here

Interview By Fariha Sabir

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