Gayatri Bahl has drawn inspiration with her achievements across various art forms in India’s film and dance space. Having starred in multiple Bollywood movies, the Indian American actress is actively engaged in theater, dance and the performance arts.
In an interview with us, Gayatri Bahl regales us with her multifarious career and the exciting intricacies of her journey.
The young actress began her training under renowned dancers across the globe. Her dancing was eventually choreographed by Saroj Khan, while her training in modern and contemporary dancing was at the Terrence Lewis’ studio. She has also trained under Pandit Birju Maharaj’s direct disciple, Vijayshree Chaudhary, who helped Gayatri hone the nuances of the art.
The medley with the dance floor began when she was just about eight.
“I started to learn dance when I was 8. There was this dance competition that happened every year in Dothan, Alabama and one year my parents took me. I decided I wanted to perform the next year with a goal to win. I won that year and the two years after that, after which they decided that competitions weren’t the best way to encourage young Indian dancers to explore their culture,” she says, laughing.
The move encouraged her to pursue dancing. Soon enough, a young Gayatri Bahl decided that her passion was to become her career. She found herself backing out of medicine, and taking up the art form.
“It was the end of freshman year and things were about to get serious with the science classes and I was having so much fun in theater, so I went to my dad and was like – ‘ What sick person would trust me to treat them – aren’t I just so silly?’ And he was like ‘Well, I would trust you, but what are you getting at?’ So I pulled out the only class I was getting a perfect score in – economics. And told him ‘what if I did Econ and theater?’ And that was that!” Gayatri tells us.
And the decision was made. She embraced various dance forms that saw her move to the Indian film industry. Her Bollywood stint gave her a massive platform to delve into Hollywood projects.
She enjoys working with both, she says. “I love the glamour of Bollywood and escapist quality of Bollywood, but I also love that things tend to run on some sort of schedule in Hollywood. In India, if you were called in for a commercial, it could mean that you were actually there for an open call. Whereas, here, in NYC, every commercial I go out on is a scheduled appointment. This allows me to live a fuller life since one audition doesn’t mean I lose my entire day,” she reminisces.
With her highly acclaimed dancing career off to a great start, Gayatri’s work has taken her places and clocked huge rewards for the young actress. It helped propel her feature on Elle Magazine in their Movement Series.
“I shot for a week-long interactive commercial and during that time became friends with the makeup artist, Jaxx (@jaxxmakeup). We became friends on Instagram and she saw some of the dance videos I had recently shared. She had just wrapped up a shoot for Elle Magazine’s Movement Series and strongly felt that my work as a trained Indian Classical Dancer + Bollywood Dancer would be perfect for the series and she offered to send my materials to the producer at Elle,” she says.
Two months later, an elated Gayatri received an email from Elle asking her if she was still interested in shooting with them. Undoubtedly, she responded with a huge yes.
“The inspiration was actually tough. We had to use royalty free music and the database that we had access to had 2 tracks that sounded remotely Indian. I’m an extremely expressive performer with a Bollywood background and so, performing on pure music was terrifying. But, I allowed the movement to lead the expression and somehow, found a story within that music,” she tells us.
The multifaceted Gayatri Bahl intends to bask under the spotlight for a bit longer, she says. The dancer, producer and entrepreneur says that passion eclipses anything that comes her way.
“I think I’ll always dance. Dance comes back to me even at times that I claim to ‘take a break’.
Currently, I’m taking a break from live performances to revisit my Kathak training. I’m essentially a multi-disciplinary artist. My dance feeds my acting and my acting serves my dance. It sounds simpler than it is, but I meditate almost daily on how both of these passions can grow organically. I’m also a filmmaker and editor. I’ve always got a lot of balls in the air, but I love it!” she says, signing off.