BY LAUREN CODLING
A two-part documentary series revealing the secrets behind Bollywood will debut tonight on BBC Two as part of the Big British Asian Summer Season.
Presented by Anita Rani, Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry goes behind the scenes in Mumbai, home to film stars and where most of the Hindi language films are shot and produced.
From intricate costumes and movie idols to choreography and sound effect tricks, Rani explores the secrets behind the camera.
A self-confessed superfan of Bollywood, Rani said the show is a chance for audiences who aren’t familiar with the industry to find out more.
“I think if you’re going to make a programme about Bollywood for the BBC, you’ve got remember the vast majority of people won’t know anything about it,” Rani told Eastern Eye at the show’s screening in central London last Thursday (9).
“This show isn’t just for the Asian community; it’s for everyone.”
The Countryfile presenter travelled across India to meet some key people in a country that produces more than 1,000 films a year.
Rani met fashion designer Manish Malhotra, whose distinctive intricate costume designs are known to take five months to complete, and also ventured into action films with stuntman RP Yadav on the set of Raid in Lucknow, north India.
However, one of her most memorable moments was meeting choreographer Kruti Mahesh, who has trained stars such as Deepika Padukone. Mahesh helped Rani perform a fully choreographed dance routine on a rooftop in Mumbai.
“It wasn’t just a highlight from my time on the show,” Rani admitted. “It was a personal highlight in my own life too.”
The show also touches on the hero worship of major Bollywood idols such as Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, as well as the changing attitudes to women in the industry.
When Rani was growing up, she loved watching actresses Madhuri Dixit and Shabana Azmi.
However, she was not ignorant to the stereotypical roles of women in films.
“When you grow up in the West and you watch these films, alongside the films you watch from Hollywood, you can’t help but think these female characters have nothing to say for themselves,” she said. “So, it is wonderful we have a generation who are working on that.”
As part of this theme of change, the second episode of the documentary focuses on actress Kangana Ranaut, who has a reputation of being an “outspoken” figure in the industry.
“Ranaut is a modern young woman who is telling the world what she thinks, rather than not saying anything,” Rani said. “That is traditionally the role of actresses – all around the world but particularly in India – where they are beautiful, and they perform, but they don’t voice an opinion.
“It was nice to learn more about a woman like that.”
The show is part of the BBC’s Big British Asian Summer Season.
Rani, who is of Punjabi descent, believes the season is a way to not only celebrate British Asian culture, but also draw attention to it.
It is also good to see television shows telling stories in modern Britain about where Asians are in the landscape, Rani said.
“We are part of Britain,” she smiled. “Now our stories aren’t just from over there, our stories are from here too.”
Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry will air tonight at 9pm on BBC Two. Episode two is scheduled to air next Monday (20).