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Perfect Bollywood glitz from non-Indians

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    Perfect Bollywood glitz from non-Indians

    Perfect Bollywood glitz from non-Indians
    Source: IANS. Image Source: DGL.Microsoft

    Johannesburg, May 27: They sing songs from "Sholay" and "Kal Ho Na Ho", they dance, they emote, complete with the glitzy costumes so typical of Bollywood stage shows. But they are not Indian!

    In fact, the team comprising a pair of Chinese American twins, one girl from Italy and two of French-German stock never fails to amaze audiences with its Bollywood-inspired performances.

    And now twins Michael and Martin McNally; sisters Celeste and Joanna Richard, who are half German and half French; and Italian Victoria Satanassi are here.

    They first met after becoming volunteers with the charity Action in Focus, which hosts medical camps and other social services to the needy in the East African country of Kenya.

    "We wanted to help raise funds in whatever way we could, and we started with performances in pop. But then the Indian community in Kenya inspired us to look at Bollywood, which became a real hit.

    "Now that's about all we do, with Indian songs and dances as our forte, although we do some Spanish and Arabic items as well," said Michael, speaking for the group.

    The dances, complete with authentic Indian costumes, are quite spectacular, as good as any crew from India would probably stage at an overseas show, but the singing in Hindi and Punjabi, despite melodious voices, is heavily accented, and raises smiles among Indian audiences.

    While no members of the troupe speak any Indian language, they say they do understand what the songs they sing are about, and this seems to be evident from their gestures during the singing.

    The twins do a rendition of "Yeh Dosti" from the film "Sholay" as Martin strums a guitar. Other songs include popular love songs like "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha" from "1942 - A Love Story".

    But it's the dancing that really brings the house down, a highlight being "Dola Re Dola" from the film "Devdas".

    Martin, who is also the choreographer in the team, explained that although the group had never had any formal training, they chose the items from films they saw and those with beautiful meanings, like "Kal Ho Na Ho".

    The group admits that during tours of Canada, Dubai, Britain, Kenya and even India the audiences always react with surprise at seeing an international group of white performers doing Bollywood items.

    "The reaction in India was particularly amazing," said Michael.

    "We met some people from the film industry there and were even offered a part in movies. But to be honest, we can make more money for the charity by performing as we do than in the time it would take for involvement in a Bollywood production."

    The group's South African visit was not planned as a tour, but rather for an operation here to resolve Martin's knee problem, which could affect his career as a dancer.

    But while they are here, they are keen to do a few shows tailored for local tastes to raise money for charity. More details are at the website