NEW DELHI // The belle of Bollywood, whose latest dance in the film Tees Maar Khan caught the eyes of the public and critics alike, launched a worldwide online Bollywood dance competition yesterday.
In addition to hosting the opening of Next Stop Bollywood, the statuesque Katrina Kaif will also judge the finalists, and have lunch with the contest's winner.
The competition is open to dancers from anywhere in the world, preferably with a flair for Bollywood-esque routines. Entrants submit their videos online for the web-based contest.
Kaif said she was looking forward to sharing her "experience with Bollywood fans and aspiring dancers. ... [The contest] hopes to attract and promote new talent".
Dressed in a white, strapless cocktail dress with an embellished neckline by the Indian designer Monisha Jaising, Kaif also said she is looking forward to watching the videos and discovering talent.
"There are far better dancers than me. A competition like this opens your eyes to how much phenomenal talent is out there," she said. "It is exciting to see that."
The competition will tap into Indian communities abroad as well. Bollywood dance, a mix of classical dance and Western-style choreography, is as unique to India as the industry itself, which is the world's largest producer of films.
Kaif's recent number Sheela ki jawani (Sheela's youth) was declared the Bollywood "item number of the year", meaning a song and dance that is as popular with the rural radio stations as it is with the dance clubs.
"I think [Bollywood numbers] are women-centric, glamorous, high-voltage, high-energy impact songs where it is about the woman. And I love the chance to create a dance out of a blank canvas," said Kaif, who lists the Bollywood stars Hrithik Roshan and Shilpa Shetty as her favourite dancers in the industry today.
The competition, sponsored by Etihad Airways, for whom Kaif is a spokeswoman, has created a dedicated site on Facebook, where contenders can upload videos. The music to be used for the videos will be posted on the Facebook site.
An existing one-minute Etihad promotional music video, directed by the choreographer Farah Khan, stars Kaif. It shows the star going into a typical Bollywood dream sequence, and dancing along with back-up passengers in a first-class Etihad lounge.
The video has been a sensation on the internet, with more than 100,000 hits, and was the subject of more than 1 million Google searches.
Competitors will have a chance to reinterpret the music in the video, said Andrew Ward, Etihad's vice president of marketing.
"This is a talent show with a difference," Mr Ward said.
"We are taking inspiration from one of the best dancers," he said, referring to Kaif. "The judges will be the public."
Viewers will be asked to vote online for the video they like the best. They will have a chance to learn the secrets of her Bollywood success.
Ten videos will be short-listed.Five of the 10 short-listed semi-finalists will be flown to Bollywood to learn Kaif's "Bollywood secrets", Mr Ward said. Later, the reigning dance queen of Bollywood will announce three finalists, before the winner is chosen on May 20.
In addition to having lunch with Kaif, the winner will receive US$5,000 (Dh18,362), two Pearl business-class tickets on Etihad Airways to any of the airline's 65 destinations, and five nights in a five-star hotel.
The second-prize winner will receive two Pearl business-class tickets; the third runner-up will get two Coral economy-class tickets.
Star's rise to fame:
Katrina Kaif, 26, was born in Hong Kong to an Indian father and British mother. She has seven siblings and lived all over the world before settling in Mumbai, India.
She had her first taste of stardom when she modelled in a jewellery campaign at age 14. Her big break into the film industry came with Bollywood film Boom, directed by Kaizad Gustad, who is best known for the comedy Bombay Boys.
Kaif went on to appear in a number of successful films, including Namastey London, in which she starred alongside Akshay Kumar. Her on-and-off-screen charm has won her a number of accolades, including the 2009 Rajiv Gandhi Award for Best Actress.