Now Ealing has a Bollywood claim to fame
An acting school for wannabee Bollywood stars has opened in Ealing, West London, location of the famous Ealing Studios, the home of British film production, particularly classic comedies, for over 100 years.
Eight students have enrolled at the UK and Europe Actor Prepares School at the Ealing Institute of Media. The students are paying £4,000 for a three-month course of workshops run by professional actors from Indian and British cinema.
Bollywood performer Anupam Kher, who has featured in more than 375 movies including the UK hit Bend it like Beckham, is one of the lead tutors but others will include Boman Irani, Tabu, Urmila Matondkar, Tanuja Chandra and filmmaker Mahesh Batt.
The Ealing workshops are a spin-off from the prestigious Actor Prepares academy started by Anupam Kher in Mumbai three years ago. It is the academy’s first overseas chapter, chosen because of the popularity of Indian films in the UK. Indian film screenings now outnumber those of films made in Britain.
The course gives students grounding in:
- Bollywood dance for character sketches and music video shoots
- Martials arts including flying kicks and how to fall
- Yoga to improve concentration and eliminate stress
- Acting for camera, TV and film, including single and multiple camera set-ups
- Vocal training for monologues and understanding the spontaneity of words.
But it will be Bollywood training with an extra dimension.
Anupam Kher says it will not be swept up in the Bollywood stereotype of over-acting and melodrama. He said:
“I am very proud to be an actor in Bollywood but I am trying to get rid of the clichés which we are all used to seeing.”
He believes acting styles are changing in India and says audiences have different expectations in an age of multiple TV channels and the varied offerings of multiplex cinemas.
He wants his students to be able to act anywhere in the world and equipped to rise above bit-parts in TV soap operas, too often the only fare for talented British Asians. Many of them travel to India to seek greater opportunities and find themselves in the company of other aspiring performers from the USA, Canada and Europe.
One West London girl, Sabina Sheema, 23, who studied in Mumbai, went on to win the Indian reality TV talent show Zee Cinestars and make a Hindi movie, Fast Forward. She is working on another film in India prior to returning to London for more Bollywood work.
At the end of the Ealing course the students will join the Actor Prepares talent agency. The course fee also pays for a trip to Mumbai to visit a film set.
Student Ranjit Singh Shub, 22, from London, is pleased that tuition will prepare him for other parts and not just Bollywood roles. “Acting is universal, it has no languages and barriers,” he said.
Anupam Kher has a refreshingly realist outlook on his profession. He declares: “To me, anybody who lies can act.”
Students on the first course had to audition, X Factor style, but Mr Kher said the judges were looking for “rough gemstones” to polish not the finished article. The courses are open to people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, of both sexes and all ages.
Ealing’s Actor Prepares School eventually hopes to teach 100 students a year in a rolling series of courses.
It is a partnership with the Institute of Media, part of Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, and the not-for-profit regeneration agency Heathrow City Partnership in Southall.
Students can apply for auditions by downloading and filling in an application from the Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College website: www.wlc.ac.uk or www.actorprepares.co.uk. Or they can request a form on 0800 034 0384.
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