Indian American Dancers Win Verizon’s Bollypop Dance Competition
Two young dancers from Los Angeles have won Verizon’s Bollypop contest, an online dance competition sponsored by the company to help showcase the growing number of Bollywood movies and music videos it offers via its FiOS TV and V CAST services.
The winners -- Sapna Rohra, 25, and Shivani Thakkar, 23 -- will get their big break on the silver screen: The women will appear in a dance sequence in a Bollywood movie to be produced by an award-winning studio and director in Mumbai, India. The winners’ dance routine can be found at www.bollypoptv.com. The contest was maintained and developed by Saavn.com, the largest digital distributor of South Asian movies, music videos, audio tracks and ringtones.
Response to the Bollypop contest was overwhelming. Nearly 10,000 people registered to vote for their favorite video, and the videos were viewed more than 300,000 times.
Ken Ghosh, the director of the film that the two winners will appear, in selected the winning video from the 10 most popular videos as voted by visitors to www.verizon.com/bollypop.
“It was difficult for us to select the winning video,” said Ghosh, who has directed such Bollywood hits as “Fida” and “Ishq Vishk.” “All the talents in the top 10 videos were so professional and their routines were flawless. Sapna and Shivani won this contest because I think their style of dance would work best with the rest of the cast. It will be a pleasure to work with them.”
Shruti Joshi, director of marketing for Verizon, said, “We congratulate Sapna and Shivani on winning the Bollypop dance contest. They did a great job winning against some tough competition, and they helped us get the word out that Verizon offers Bollywood movies and videos on FiOS TV and VCAST.”
Bollywood is the name of India's film industry, which produces more than 1,000 movies annually. Bollywood movies are typically musicals that feature six to eight songs and major dance sequences. The category has become the highest-grossing foreign film sector in the U.S.
Rohra and Thakkar will travel to India next month to appear in the dance sequence in the still-untitled movie, to be filmed at the preeminent Indian film studio, UTV Motion Pictures. The winners will receive round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations, courtesy of Verizon.
The movie, which will be distributed worldwide in 2009 by UTV, is a story about a middle-class youngster who loves music and about his journey to become a music icon. Shahid Kapoor, a Bollywood star, will play the lead. Marty Kudelka, who has worked with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, will choreograph the dance sequences.
Rohra and Thakkar are both accomplished dancers who moved to Los Angeles to pursue their careers. Rohra was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, where she started dancing and formally trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop throughout her youth and in high school. She began to train in more Indian styles of dance while she was a student at Johns Hopkins University, from which she received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. She has trained professionally in New York City, has danced for local hip-hop and Latin artists, and is a member of Bellytwins International, a Bollywood dance company.
Thakkar grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and trained in the Indian dance-style Bharatha Natyam in Mumbai. She has also studied other dance forms, including jazz, ballet, tap and hip hop. She is a member of Bellytwins International and performed with the Bellytwins on the new CW TV show, “Valentine.” In addition, she has toured Canada and choreographed for the DVD Series, “Let’s Dance World.” She graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and a minor in film production.
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