Two Young Dancers Win Verizon's Bollypop Dance Competition and Get Their Big Break: Dancing in a Bollywood Movie

NEW YORK - Two young dancers from Los Angeles have won Verizon's Bollypop contest, an online dance competition sponsored by the company to help showcase the growing number of Bollywood movies and music videos it offers via its FiOS TV and V CAST services.

The winners - Sapna Rohra, 25, and Shivani Thakkar, 23 - will get their big break on the silver screen: The women will appear in a dance sequence in a Bollywood movie to be produced by an award-winning studio and director in Mumbai, India. The winners' dance routine can be found at www.bollypoptv.com. The contest was maintained and developed by Saavn.com, the largest digital distributor of South Asian movies, music videos, audio tracks and ringtones.

Response to the Bollypop contest was overwhelming. Nearly 10,000 people registered to vote for their favorite video, and the videos were viewed more than 300,000 times. 

Ken Ghosh, the director of the film that the two winners will appear in, selected the winning video from the 10 most popular videos as voted by visitors to www.verizon.com/bollypop.

"It was difficult for us to select the winning video," said Ghosh, who has directed such Bollywood hits as "Fida" and "Ishq Vishk."  "All the talents in the top 10 videos were so professional and their routines were flawless. Sapna and Shivani won this contest because I think their style of dance would work best with the rest of the cast. It will be a pleasure to work with them."

Shruti Joshi, director of marketing for Verizon, said, "We congratulate Sapna and Shivani on winning the Bollypop dance contest. They did a great job winning against some tough competition, and they helped us get the word out that Verizon offers Bollywood movies and videos on FiOS TV and VCAST."

Bollywood is the name of India's film industry, which produces more than 1,000 movies annually. Bollywood movies are typically musicals that feature six to eight songs and major dance sequences. The category has become the highest-grossing foreign film sector in the U.S.

Rohra and Thakkar will travel to India next month to appear in the dance sequence in the still-untitled movie, to be filmed at the preeminent Indian film studio, UTV Motion Pictures.  The winners will receive round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations, courtesy of Verizon.

The movie, which will be distributed worldwide in 2009 by UTV, is a story about a middle-class youngster who loves music and about his journey to become a music icon. Shahid Kapoor, a Bollywood star, will play the lead. Marty Kudelka, who has worked with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, will choreograph the dance sequences.

Rohra and Thakkar are both accomplished dancers who moved to Los Angeles to pursue their careers. Rohra was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, where she started dancing and formally trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop throughout her youth and in high school. She began to train in more Indian styles of dance while she was a student at Johns Hopkins University, from which she received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.  She has trained professionally in New York City, has danced for local hip-hop and Latin artists, and is a member of Bellytwins International, a Bollywood dance company. 

Thakkar grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and trained in the Indian dance-style Bharatha Natyam in Mumbai. She has also studied other dance forms, including jazz, ballet, tap and hip hop. She is a member of Bellytwins International and performed with the Bellytwins on the new CW TV show, "Valentine." In addition, she has toured Canada and choreographed for the DVD Series, "Let's Dance World." She graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and a minor in film production.

Verizon FiOS TV customers can access several Bollywood movies and music videos through the video-on-demand (VOD) library at $7.99 per month or $3.99 per movie or video. Verizon is currently running a promotion where the FiOS TV South Asian package will come with TV Asia free for 90 days.

Additionally, through V CAST Music from Verizon Wireless, customers can also access more than 100 of the latest Bollywood music videos on their handsets for $4.99 per month. Interested customers can select "Bollywood Music by Saavn" from the music category on the
V CAST videos menu.

Information about Bollypop movies or music from Verizon can be obtained by calling 877-674-7015.

About UTV Motion Pictures (UMP PLC)
Established in 1995, as a division within UTV Software Communications, UTV Motion Pictures has arrangements with a number of major Hollywood studios including Walt Disney, Fox Searchlight and, Will Smith's company Overbrook Entertainment. Listed on the London AIM market, UTV Motion Pictures has played an active role in bringing the studio model to the Indian film industry, where it is able to leverage script development, budget and time management and international distribution. Having become a strong player in Indian and international cinema with the success of movies like 'Rang De Basanti', 'Khosla Ka Ghosla', 'Life in a... Metro', 'The Namesake' and 'I Think I Love My Wife'. UTV Motion Pictures has also distributed movies like Aamir Khan's directorial debut 'Taare Zameen Par', Anees Bazmee's 'Welcome' in the international markets and co-produced movies like Ashutosh Gowariker's 'Jodhaa-Akbar', which is the biggest blockbuster of 2008 and distributed Abbas Mustan's 'Race' M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Happening'. Its list of forthcoming slate includes Madhur Bhandarkar's 'Fashion', Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's 'Delhi 6'. UTV Motion Pictures is also working with a talent pool of directors that include Vishal Bhardwaj, David Dhawan, Shyam Benegal and Iranian director Majid Majidi amongst others. For more info log onto www.utvmotionpictures.com.

About Saavn
Saavn brings the best of Bollywood and Indian entertainment to the world. As the largest digital distributor in Bollywood, Saavn owns the digital rights to hundreds of movies, such as Jodhaa Akbar, Race, Singh is Kinng and Taare Zameen Par and more than 250,000 music tracks, 20,000 music videos, and 10,000 ringtones. Its studio and record label partners includes companies such as T- Series, Yashraj, and UTV Motion Pictures. Saavn programs, packages and distributes its exclusive catalog and new Bollywood releases to more than 75 global media companies including Time Warner Cable, Verizon Wireless and Apple's iTunes. Its flagship Saavn.com is an online community that connects 2 billion global Bollywood fans around an interest in Bollywood, bringing them a rich experience with streaming audio and video, playlist sharing, and profile pages. Saavn is a joint venture of [212]MEDIA and Hungama Mobile, and the company has offices in Mumbai, London, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. To find out more, visit: http://www.saavn.com.

About Verizon
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 71 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 228,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.