Brahma’s Bollywood success

Catherine Zhang, Feature Editor

Although the term “Bollywood” commonly evokes images of traditional flashy costumes embellished with sparkling gems, Diamond Bar High School’s Indian Culture Club has enticed the hearts of hundreds of voters through its dance number, without having to rely on showy props or colorful apparel.

Despite having no prior experience competing in Bollywood dance contests, the club entered a Facebook cultural competition held by UCLA’s Hindi Film Dance team Nashaa, pitting the team against one from Northern California’s Irvington High School.

Dancing to a medley of Bollywood songs with an American hip-hop twist, the club garnered about a thousand likes and 600 shares during the voting period, ultimately losing to Irvington by about 100 votes, placing second overall in the competition.

“I am so grateful for everyone who shared and liked the post. It was a reminder that we have so much to be grateful for with such an accepting community that’s there to support us and see us succeed no matter the size of the feat we’re attempting to accomplish,” senior co-president Shefali Appali said via Facebook.

To enter the competition, titled the “Best of the West Showdown,” various high school teams in California submitted a three to eight minute long dance video to the Nashaa judges, who then selected team finalists from a Northern and a Southern California high school. Finally, the official Facebook page linked the videos for the two teams, and the team with the most likes and shares within two days won the competition.

The winner of the high school competition, “Best of the West Showdown,” is granted the opportunity to perform at the bigger scale collegiate competition Nashaa offers, Jhoomti Sham.

At the Jhoomti Sham, competing teams win the opportunity to perform in front of esteemed Bollywood dancers serving as the collegiate competition’s judges, such as Joya Kazi, Evan Burgess, Kavita Rao and Amit Patel.

“The judges are such famous dancers, so for you to dance on that stage and for them to see you–people say, ‘This is where Bollywood stars are born,’” junior Ashvini Bhupatiraju said.

The team’s video involved a wide range of Bollywood songs, from upbeat, peppy songs to more ballad-like songs. In addition, group performances and a duet between Bhupatiraju and Appali were also included. Starting from October, the team gathered weekly to practice with Bhupatiraju, Appali, co-president Sabir Rupal and treasurer Manshaan Dhir as the main choreographers for the dance.  

“This was the first time we were so dedicated. We learned teamwork since we worked together to fit in all our ideas and saw what other people wanted incorporated into the dance. As a dancer, you want to entertain the audience, but you also want all the dancers to feel content,” Bhupatiraju said.

Outside of the competition, the Indian Culture Club performs annually at various Indian cultural showcases held at local high schools and colleges. In addition, the club is performing at the Evening of Colors on Mar. 31 for South Asian Parent Association night.

Despite not winning first place, members of the club still view the competition experience as rewarding and enjoyable.

“It really brought me closer to people I really would never talk to outside the club, and we learned how to teach people who aren’t so experienced in dancing to dance. We entered to have a good time, and we definitely had a good time,” Appali said.