January 10, 2006

Bollywood offers hope to jobless Mumbai bar girls

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A new Bollywood film has cast dozens of
Mumbai's famed bar dancers, raising hopes among them of a
career in cinema after being banned from working in bars and

In August, authorities of Maharastra state, of which Mumbai
is the capital, closed down dance bars, saying they corrupt
young men and breed crime and prostitution in India's financial
and entertainment hub.

After the ban, many dancers went away to other states to
find work, many more reportedly entered prostitution while
thousands of others were left jobless.

Now, dozens of them have found work in the film 'Deepa Ki
Tarannum' or 'Deepa's Music' that tells the story of a bar
dancer's brush with crime, money and misery.

"We decided to take in some 30 bar dancers because we
thought they could best portray their lives," said Ranjeet
Sharma, the film's producer.

The lead role in the film, scheduled for a May release, is
being played by Preeti Jain, a Bollywood newcomer who hit the
headlines last year for allegedly hiring a hitman to kill a

"I'm excited (about the role) and I find it challenging,"
Jain said. The male lead is played by Hyder Khan, the younger
brother of Bollywood heartthrob Aamir Khan.

Bar dancers said they think the film could open a new
employment avenue for them.

"Since the ban, bar dancers have looked at Bollywood for
work as junior artists. Looks like that option is opening up,"
said Varsha Kale, spokesperson of the Bar Girls' Association.

"Some more filmmakers are also hiring bar dancers for roles
in their films. This is because bar dancers are ready