A Leicester dancer has become the star of a new BBC documentary, which explores queer Asian life.
‘Bend it like Bollywood,’ which airs tonight (Wednesday, March 15) on BBC Three, tells the story of Vinay Jobanputra, a Gender non-conforming dancer, who is openly gay.
The 21-year-old, believes that you don’t have to dance like a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’ but can do it in a non-gendered way.
He’s put his belief on the line three years ago, by opening his own Bollywood dance classes down in London. Calling them ‘Bollyqueer,’ they’ve proved successful with attendances high, valuing Vinay’s unique and personal brand of dance.
However, Vinay hasn’t always felt so free to be himself. Growing up in Leicester was not easy due to his South Asian upbringing, with expectations and cultural norms clashing with his LGBTQ+ identity.
“Growing up in a traditional South Asian family meant that queerness was never discussed at home. Straightness was assumed and expected from me. From a young age I was told what kind of wife I’d need to bring home and what duties I have as the son of the family,” he explained.
“It became very clear that the love my family had for me was conditional on me meeting these expectations, and so I conformed. I became everything that they needed me to be, but I needed an escape. For me, this was and always has been dance.
“Bollyqueer is a dance class which centres Queer and Trans people. When you walk into a Bollyqueer class, you are not assigned any label, your gender is never assumed, you are encouraged to dance in a way that makes your heart and body feel its happiest,” he went on to reveal. “There are variations of choreographies, you get to choose whichever feels most at home to you. It’s a way to celebrate the magic and beauty of Bollywood dance without having to sacrifice your queerness or identity.”
Tonight’s documentary, will follow Vinay on his return home to Leicester, where he will launch his ‘Bollyqueer’ classes and attempt to build bridges, and understanding within his family.
It’s a bold step for the dancer, say BBC bosses in the show’s synopsis.
“One thing’s always remained unresolved for Vinay: the freedom to be himself when he was growing up. And in this film, he takes a bold step: to return to his hometown of Leicester to launch his ‘Bollyqueer’ dance classes,” they say.
“But as Vinay looks to express who he is, he encounters unfinished business: can he bridge the gap of understanding between himself and his dad on his gender non-conformity? Or will the launch of ‘Bollyqueer’ drive a wedge between them?
“And as he looks to bring his unique, modern and personal take on Bollywood dance to the people of Leicester, can he be accepted by a community, which he felt rejected him when growing up?
“Exploring gender, family and community, this moving and ultimately life-affirming film follows Vinay as he tries to bury the ghosts of his past as he puts it all on the line to stage the biggest show of his life.”
Catch the show tonight on BBC Three at 9pm.
To find out more about Bollyqueer, visit: http://bollyqueer.com/