The Indian atmospheres of Bollywood conquer the world. Dior just showed in Mumbai. RRR won an Oscar for the song Naatu Naatu. Emma Thompson dances wildly at an exotic wedding in What’s love? While in Italy “bolly-fitness” and dance classes with saris, anklets and bells are all the rage. A phenomenon? Rather want to have fun. Between music and colors…
chetan Chauhan moves fast and gracefully. Wear “ghungroo”, traditional Indian anklets with bells. They weigh only two kilos. She arches the fingers of her hand in the shape of a mudra, her gaze is fixed upwards, but the expressiveness of the face changes with every step. The women present observe him carefully and then try to emulate him. It could be Mumbai, instead we are at LoolaPaloosa, disco bar of the Milanese nightlife in Corso Como.
It’s two in the afternoon. At dawn, the last customers have left. Now, perhaps, there are the mothers of those kids. Fifty-year-old ladies, but also thirty-year-olds, with saris and skirts in light, colorful fabrics. «I am inspired by the music of the Oscar-winning film, RRR, and at the dances of Madhuri Dixit, the most famous Bollywood actress, even if the Indian dance is much richer» he says Chauhan, 32, professional dancer, originally from New Delhi and teacher of yoga, meditation and tai chi (meyotai).
Teaches Indian dance choreography every Sunday. He also adds yoga asanas to make it more “fit” and is now inundated with requests. For sure Bollywood dance is the trend of the moment. In all its variants: from the Masala dance that mixes classical and folk to the Bolly-Fitness that aims to firm up the muscle groups and improve the energy balance (if you want a taste of it, come on 10 and 11 June to the Montanelli Gardens in Milan at the festival of iO WomanFree Body).
The world of fashion in Mumbai
A sign of the times. Because now everything is about India. In Montecarlo, the creative director of the gala, Christian Louboutin, has just given a swerve of verve to the annual “Ballo della Rosa” proposing Bollywood as its own theme. The Grimaldi-Casiraghi family showed up all in glitter and precious silks. With Carolina of Monaco in silver and pink and Beatrice Borromeo in a triumph of lace and black transparencies with bustier top and full skirt
Dior has focused on Mumbai to present its Pre-Fall 23 collection. Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of the French fashion house, brought a series of color blocks to the catwalk green, yellow, pink and purple silks, straight sari-inspired skirts, Indian cuts of trousers, boleros, jackets and tops. A parade of stars and models catapulted into the metropolis for the opening of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, a new space dedicated to the arts, created by philanthropist Nita Mukesh Ambani.
It took a year to create the gold sari worn by top Gigi Hadid on the red carpet. Vintage that of the actress iIndiana Priyanka Chopra Jonason Prime Video from April 28 with the spy thriller Citadel.
Via Bollywood: the first Oscar in Indian history
On the film front, RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt), Indian blockbuster epic full of action and dance (available on Netflix), as it was rumored, just won a statuette for the best original song titled Naatu Naatu. No Indian film had ever won one. One of the biggest cinematic cases of the year: success in India was expected, in the rest of the world – in Hollywood – actually not
Not to mention of the very British Emma Thompson wild dancing at an Indian wedding in the romantic comedy What’s love by Shekhar Kapur with Lily James now in cinemas. In Matera, in Basilicata, on the other hand, the shooting has just finished Salaar, a blockbuster starring the stars Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran. And, among the TV series, the cult of the moment (for teenagers) is Indian: Class, a remake of Elite. So popular that it even ended up in the video loop on TikTok.
Films and dances, colors and traditions
Fifth world power, future hub of world fashion (at least for the ICE, agency for the promotion of companies abroad, according to which by 2025 it will reach a growth rate of 14 percent per year, overtaking China and the United States), India is a marriage between tradition and modernity and for this reason it attracts, fto note Marged Flavia Trumper, professor of Hindi language and Indian singing at the University of Bologna and at the Vicenza Conservatory.
«Films and dances make you dream, there are expressive riches, colors and traditions. The Indians, then, are “caciaroni”, they have no limits when they party, and they do it often. And this dimension of theirs fascinates us Europeans. Let’s not forget, however, that the Bollywood myth only reveals a part of this country that still experiences a very strong conflict of values and restrictive patricentric identities»
Trumper knows it well: he also teaches the children of second generation Indians who attend his classes to learn more about their culture
Indian wedding in Italy
India is also currently represented at 10 Downing Street: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty is daughter of India’s sixth richest man, ithe billionaire NR Narayana Murty: their very lavish wedding, in Bangalore in 2009, lasted two days, as per tradition
And, speaking of weddings, it is impossible not to notice the constantly growing trend that wants more and more spouses from the subcontinent to say “yes” in Tuscany and on Lake Como. Two examples: those of actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveers Singh and star Anushka Sharma and cricket champion Virat Kholi, who say nothing to us but who are very famous in their homeland
The last two got married in Borgo Finocchietto, in Siena, with musicians and dancers who had come especially from Punjab.
Of Indian weddings we mean the very Italian one Valentina Manduchi, 37, one of the best known Bollywood dancers of the peninsula, art director of the Apsaras Dance Bollywood group (they are the celestial nymphs in Hindu mythology).
While living in the English capital (she studies with Urja Desai Thakore, one of the most famous dancers and guru of the Pagrav Academy, in London), she is continually invited to Indian weddings, festivals and events in Italy
“India is in fashion in waves. From the 90s onwards in the emotional wake of films such as Dreaming Beckham, Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts and the musical Bombay Dreams there was an ups and downs boom» continues Manduchi
Bollywood dance is fun
Sometimes they come back, though. Like now
While attending the Dams in Bologna, Manduchi was fascinated by the most famous bollywood movie, Devdas, with Indian dance king Shahrukh Khan and iconic actress Madhuri Dixit, today a 53-year-old influencer more famous than Chiara Ferragni. And since then she has specialized. She finally got to dance with Khan at the Rome Film Festival a few years ago
«Indian dances are a mix of styles between aesthetic technique and religious narrative. They seem simple, but it takes effort. Bollywood dance on the other hand is fun and energetic. It improves the mood and is suitable for everyone, which is why it is liked: it creates emotions and well-being, a real adrenaline rush».
Meanwhile, Chetan Chauhan asks the “women” of the course to smile (they are all frowning). «You dance in pleasure, it’s not a competition» he underlines while teaching the “tatkaar”, the practice of rhythm with the feet. And the “show” of him is overwhelming
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