February 23, 2010

For the last decade India has not just been lauded for its super economic growth, urban development and newly minted billionaires, but also for its ability to successfully export its culture. Bollywood has been at the centre of this cultural trade with the rest of the world. The popularity of Bollywood in the West can be seen by the filmi fare packing in the fans at multiplexes in the UK and North America. Feeding off that, Bollywood stars have gone to Hollywood and (desperate) Hollywood stars have gone Bollywood. The success of Slumdog Millionaireconfirmed the world’s infatuation with all things Indian.

A Russian ice dancing duo in a questionable (on many levels) costume. Photo: AFP

A Russian ice dancing duo in a questionable (on many levels) costume. Photo: AFP

At the heart of Indian movies are music and dance. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Bollywood tunes have finally made it into international figure skating. US ice dancing pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White have performed their original-dance routine (amusingly described as being set to “Indian folk music”) in competition before, but it caught the world’s attention on Sunday night at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Usually ice dancing is something to be watched for the ridiculous costumes — all of figure skating has an overabundance of diamantes, feathers, frills and flesh-toned fabric, and that’s just the men — but this dance by Davis and White is something crowds seem to like so far, though maybe some hypersensitive South Asians will weigh in on it. It may not show India as a “dirty, underbelly developing nation” but maybe defender-of-Mother India Amitabh Bachchan will feel the need to rail against this too in his blog? An ‘opportunistic hijacking,’ perhaps?

An internationally accessible video of the US duo’s 2010 Olympic performance is hard to find and see because of restrictions on Olympic Games broadcast rights, but you can see the American pair perform their filmi routine in the 2010 World Championships in the video below.

Will Bhangra make it next to ice dancing?