Who Wants to Be a Bollywood Star?

The first international Bollywood acting school opens its doors... in London?!

ByABC News
December 16, 2008, 12:54 PM

LONDON, Dec. 16, 2008 — -- It's the world's biggest film industry and it's based not in Los Angeles, but in the heart of India.

Bollywood, India's billion-dollar film industry, attracts more fans worldwide than its American counterpart.

The latest example of its growing reach: the opening of the world's first Bollywood acting school…in London.

The British capital has long been a popular destination with Bollywood filmmakers, many of whom have set their films here. The most famous of these films -- "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge" translated as "The Brave-heart ll Take the Bride" -- has been running for more than 13 years in a cinema in Mumbai, the center of India's film world. The name "Bollywood" is a take-off on Bombay, the old name of India's largest city.

Now, Anupam Kher, one of the actors in that film, has set up a branch of his Mumbai-based acting school, An Actor Prepares, in London. Kher is familiar to Western audiences from his roles in the English films "Bend It Like Beckham" and "Bride and Prejudice."

Lured by his name and by the promise of glamour, fame and a lot of money, students from as far afield as Karachi and California have come to London to learn to act, to dance to popular Bollywood songs and to make their mark in India's film industry.

One of the students, 21-year-old Anu Singh from Mountainview, Calif., said she simply had to try her luck at a film career because she had "grown up on Bollywood films."

"I just love the fact that our culture and our roots are included in the film. They are still there," she said. "Exposing too much or having really intimate scenes, you don't find that as often in Bollywood."

Although the films have gotten racier with time, there's still a lot you won't see in your average Bollywood film: kisses are permissible, but sex scenes are a red flag to various local groups and political parties claiming to protect Indian culture.

As part of their course, Singh and other students will be offered the opportunity to go to Mumbai to meet producers and studio heads and to network within the industry.