SynopsisRajesh, a talented and hard-working dancer, moves to Bombay from his rural village to dance in Bollywood films. Under the tutelage of Sanjay, his outspoken yet introspective guru, Rajesh embarks on the journey to achieve his dream. Over the course of a year, Rajesh and Sanjay encounter the changing climate of globalized India and recognize that the new face of Bollywood does not include them.
TrendsYoung people across India -and the world, from Nigeria to Trinidad to South Africa and China -- sing the newest Bollywood songs and imitate the latest dance moves.
CreditDancers are never credited in the films, unlike the actors, singers, and choreographers. While making this film, we were very drawn to this irony of Bollywood -- its fabulous sets, large budgets, and lavish dances juxtaposed with the poorly paid and anonymous dancers. Personality is the first film to bring the struggle, art and lives of these dancers to the forefront.
Cultural DiffusionIn many ways, Bollywood is the perfect lens to examine the changes India itself is going through. Once we started listening to dancers' stories, we realized how many have been personally affected by changes that have taken place in India over the past 15 years with globalization. Bollywood film has always been popular, especially in developing nations; and Bollywood dance styles have evolved and changed. However, with the expansion of its market and audience into the global marketplace, Bollywood has also absorbed Western influences. These influences are seen in the MTVization of its dance styles and pacing, the increased use of English, the higher production values, the use of storylines that cater to diasporic audiences in the U.S. and Canada, and ultimately, the importation of Western beauty standards.
Industrial RevolutionThe struggle of dancers in India is no longer limited to ageing out of the industry once they pass their prime physical peak; it is now compounded by a host of other factors like the color of their skin, their urban (global) hipness, their ability to speak English, and their aesthetic beauty - what is collectively known in the industry as having "personality." In the past, film dancers came from more diverse backgrounds--short, dark-skinned, lower class, classically trained - it didn't matter much, as long as they were talented. Today, more directors are demanding that choreographers find dancers who look and act a certain way. It is no longer solely about talent. This is ultimately Rajesh's struggle in the film - trying to fit into this new emerging reality of India.
StylePersonality is shot in a cinema verité style. Motivated by the daily struggles of Rajesh and Sanjay, the verité style contrasts with the glitzy Bollywood blockbuster style. Our utilization of hand-held camera work, jump cuts, available light, and minimal set-ups, holds true to the verité tradition, making sure that nothing is performed or rehearsed other than the dances. Our interest lies in Rajesh and Sanjay's stories and in the daily lives of struggling Bollywood performers like them.