Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Doing it Bollywood style - Debbie Downunder

If anyone is wondering why my picture is appearing below Debbie's, here's the reason. The silly girl managed to break her leg whilst skiing. Aunty is furious with her and I think something near her leg will soon be hurting once the bone heals, if you know what I mean.

She's asked me to post this story that she did for Bared Affair and has promised to give us some fresh material soon.

Hugs and kisses, Kimberley Susan.

Acting is not the only thing that Indian Bollywood stars do well, as one aspiring star performer finds out

India, the British Empire's "jewel in the crown," is an ancient land formed of many cultures, full of mystery and wonder, the birthplace of polo, the home of the Taj Mahal, Mahatma Gandhi and the recent movie phenomenon located in Mumbai: Bollywood.

Being on the set of a Bollywood extravaganza can only be described as a somewhat surreal experience. I had come here to view the phenomenon that was sweeping the world and to interview the Australian model and presenter Tania Zaetta, trying to make a name for herself in Bollywood itself.

Ms Zaetta is of mixed Italian/Australian parentage and a stunningly attractive woman in her mid 30's with exotic looks comprising high cheekbones and entrancing almond eyes. She began her public career as a model and member of Sydney's social set. This led to a presenting role on the TV show "Who Dares Wins." The show, co-hosted by former Australian cricket star Mike Whitney, dared ordinary people to take on death defying stunts.

Ms Zaetta in her Who Dares Wins days.

Aside from being eye candy for the male viewers, Ms Zaetta was required to take on the dares that the contestants rejected. Following the show's demise the star moved overseas where her exploits and obvious beauty had attracted attention. Her biggest career move was a leading guest role on the U.S. sand and surf drama "Baywatch."

Despite this most of her time was spent in London as well as in various presenting roles. She was seen on the arms of a number of socially connected men, including Australian tennis player Mark Philippoussis. Recently she has been linked to Australian Rules footballer Aaron Hamill.

The concept of "Who Dares Wins" was picked up in India where it was renamed "Extreme Dhamaka" and introduced by Ms Zaetta. This caught the eye of the Bollywood powerbrokers and the Aussie soon found herself cast in several Indian adventure epics.

In Mumbai, on the set of her current movie, Ms Zaetta navigated the chaos that is a Bollywood production, dodging elephant dung and flashing blades wielded by exotically dressed Sikhs. She was sitting in a camp chair, sipping an iced tea and fanning herself in the oppressive Indian humidity. She was wearing a light, elegant, diaphanous sari and glowed with beauty and perspiration.

Ms Zaetta laughed when asked how she got caught up in the whole Bollywood thing. "You can't help it," she replied, "they're so enthusiastic. Not being an Indian it was really quite an honour for me to even be approached."

Gaining Acceptance Among Indian Stars

That answer brought to mind the question of how she was accepted by her Indian born co-stars. "Well, my first role wasn't a large one - I think they wanted to ease me in. I was privileged to be on screen alongside some of the biggest names in Bollywood, Aishwaya Rai [a Bollywood megastar and former Miss World] amongst them. I was informed that I as I was not an Indian girl I had to be 'initiated'."

Despite being of Italian extraction; Tania Zaetta certainly looks the part in her Bollywood gear.

One might wonder what initiation entailed.

"That was the thing," Ms Zaetta explained, sipping tea, eyes sparkling. "They wouldn't tell me. Whenever I asked, they just giggled and said that I would find out soon enough. I found out what they meant during the film's big musical production number. It was a huge mass dance scene, all the ladies were wearing thin saris, like the one I have on now, and we whirled out on screen in rows."

The movie star explained that each row of actors and actresses were only in front of the camera for a few moments at a time. "You would move into the front row for a few steps, then moved back and were replaced by the next row, you could only see the front row, the rest were screened."

After her row stepped back, Ms Zaetta explained that she was pulled over to one of her co-stars was seated on a stool. "She laughed, 'Initiation time for Tania!' and then I was flung face down over her knee. She would spank my upturned bottom hard until it was time for me to go back in the front and then the entire process would be repeated with a different girl."

Understandably, the tall, beautiful, elegant Indian girls who populated the set were now looked at in an entirely different light.

"Five girls gave me a good smacking that day," Ms Zaetta recalled. "Let me tell you, these saris offer no protection whatsoever. By the end of that scene the director commented how my face appeared to be glowing from the exertion of the dance. It wasn't the only part of me that was glowing! Apparently Indian girls are raised in an environment of strict physical discipline. I had to experience a taste of that before they considered me truly one of them."

I asked if this was a common practice in Bollywood films.

"As most of the girls are Indian, I don't think so," Ms Zaetta replied. "We have an English girl on set next week. Aishwaya tells me that I'll be able to help with her 'initiation'. It's really almost like being back on 'Who Dares'."

Ms Zaetta finished with a seraphic smile before she was called back on camera to complete her current scene.

 An elaborate Bollywood dance similar to the one that initiated Ms Zaetta into the girls ranks.

Originally published in Bared Affair, Issue 3.06


  1. Excellent story. Thanks.

  2. I hope that Debbie recovers quickly.

  3. Sounds like Debbie is in for it with Aunty! Feel better Debbie.

    Really great fun story.


  4. Debbie thanks you Joey.
    Young Debbie may find when she recovers that she has some difficulty in sitting down. What she did was very irresponsible!