Indian Pageant Contestants Bank On Popularity Of Bollywood FilmsS

India's Miss World contestants are learning Bollywood-style dances this year, in the hope that the films' growing popularity abroad can give them an advantage in competition, just as international acclaim launched actress Deepika Padukone to Bollywood's A-list.

Padukone, 23, has risen to stardom quickly in the past two years, which is especially unlikely, since her family is not connected to the film industry and she's not from Mumbai, according to CNN. Her father is a professional badminton player and, as a teenager she planned to follow in his footsteps and travelled the country competing in badminton tournaments. But at 16, she decided she wanted to model and began appearing in commercials and music videos.

Padukone got her break with director Farah Khan spotted her in a music video and cast her in the 2007 film Om Shanti Om opposite prominent Bollywood star Shahrukah Khan. In addition to becoming a hit in India, the film earned $45 million worldwide and became the second highest-grossing Hindi film of all-time. Padukone says:

"Things for me changed quite overnight, actually. I remember a couple of months before the film release, not too many people knew me. In November 2007 when my film released and immediately after that I had to travel to New York, to Dubai and to London, and suddenly everyone on the streets started recognizing me, especially the Indians. That's when I realized that things have changed."

Though Bollywood-style dancing has been a part of many Indian beauty pageant contestants' routines since more Indian women began winning pageants in the 1990s, the success of Indian films abroad has inspired contestants to become far more serious about their dancing, Reuters reports. In the video below, this year's Indian Miss World contestants train with leading Bollywood choreographer Shiamak Davar in the hope that the recent popularity of Bollywood films (and Slumdog Millionaire) will make them stand out in front of an international audience.

The New Face Of Bollywood [CNN]
Miss India Steps Up With Bollywood [Reuters]