by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Bollywood Beats is a lively story about Indian immigrants living in California who sign up for dancing classes and find community as well as fun. Raj, who leads the classes, has great ambition to be a dancer—for hip hop videos or other avenues—all to the consternation of his father, who wants him to work in the family jewelry business.
As a final attempt to seek employment, before his father kicks him out, he opens his own dance studio and, surprisingly, gets a few women as clients. He is encouraged by Jyoti, an attractive older woman who is living free and single without being tied down to a husband. There are mostly skeptical women in his class at first, but then a gay high school student named Vincent joins, only more than happy to be able to express himself, since he is the shame of his father at home. But he becomes a bit more liberated with each class that he takes.
The team members reach a crossroads when Raj is offered a sure fire audition in New York on the same weekend that the group is poised to compete in a talent show. But the bond that the group shares is stronger than his need to secure a dancing gig right then. The movie just so happens to have been written by Mehul Shah, who plays Vincent, and it’s nice to see a movie written by someone who wrote such a nice part for himself.
Bollywood Beats is a nice movie that kept me interested, while teaching about Indian culture and norms. It’s not a “Bollywood” movie with dance sequences every few minutes, but a story with good meat on its bones. It’s a feel-good comedy about an unlikely group of friends all looking to dance to the beat of their own drum. It’s a feat of inspirational storytelling and dancing to the beat of one’s heart.
The movie was featured in numerous festivals across the globe, including AFI Dallas, St. Louis International Film Festival, Mumbai International Film Festival and the New York Indian Film Festival.
Bollywood Beats is available on DVD January 31 from Breaking Glass Pictures. Visit www.breakingglasspictures.com
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago, who also serves as a news editor for FilmMonthly.com.
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