Lauren Gottlieb is cut out for Bollywood, for it is here that she can sing and dance to her heart’s content.
LAUREN Gottlieb of So You Think You Can Dance fame likes it in India — the people, culture, and the films she is making a career out of, for the last four years. Indian films fulfill her twin dreams of dancing and acting. The dancer-turned-choreographer-turned-actor from Arizona, now staying in Mumbai, says, “When I finally found acting projects in Hollywood, I had to stop dancing. They don’t make the Singin’ In The Rain kind of movies anymore, where you could act and dance. It was around that time Bollywood pulled me over to its side for the lead role in ABCD (2013).” Gottlieb then went on to act in ABCD 2 and Welcome to Karachi and appeared in song sequences in Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! and Welcome Back, while pursuing her love for dance on the reality show, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.
The actor, who will be seen next in the Punjabi film Ambarsariya, is keen to explore her range as an actor. “I would love to act in the South. I know I am picking a gamble, but I want to do films that focus more on my acting skills. In India, I want to be known as an actor.”
And the 27-year-old, who used to choreograph for Tom Cruise and Toby Maguire, and act in TV shows such as Glee, CSI and Ghost Whisperer, is working at it. She is taking language lessons, studying Bollywood films, listening to a lot of Hindi songs on Saavn, eating right, and working out—which includes yoga and pilates. Above all, she is honing her dance skills. She explains, “I believe I have a talent that many actors don’t have. I am a trained dancer and I can pick up a new style in five to 10 minutes, and even look the character.”
Strange as it might sound, but as a child, Gottlieb hated dancing. “I have two brothers, so I was tomboyish. But my mum wanted me to do something girlie. She enrolled me for dance, and I hated it. I thought I was too stiff and not as good as the others. But I could not quit. Before the year-end dance performance, I cried a lot. But the moment I finished the act and got off the stage, I was begging my mum to let me go back on the stage again. I fell in love with dance.”
Does she plan to get back to Hollywood? “It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind scenario there. I wanted to pursue acting in India, so I packed my bags and moved, leaving behind my family, two dogs and dance career. All my focus is on Bollywood now,” she affirms, adding that she recently touched one million followers on Instagram.
Favourite dance films
♦ Any Body Can Dance: What sets ABCD (Gottlieb’s acting debut) apart from the Step Up series is that the culture of India comes through strong in its song sequences, especially the Ganpati and Sadda Dil Vi Tu songs. ♦ Center Stage: The 2000 film follows the life of a young group training to be professional ballet dancers in New York. “I can relate to the ballet background of the dancers, and their training,” says Gottlieb, who has learnt jazz, ballet, hip hop, ballroom and Broadway. ♦West Side Story: Watching the 1961 Broadway-turned-musical is like attending a dance school, says Gottlieb adding, “It has authentic jazz sequences and choreographed by Jerome Robbins. It is such a technically-sound dance film. If I ever have to make a dance film, it will be like West Side Story.” ♦ Chicago: Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere, this musical comedy crime film blends jazz performances and acting to perfection, says Gottlieb, adding, “Its music lingers in the mind for long.”
— Barkha Kumari