"It is just a very unique specific celebration of Punjabi culture.”
Bringing you a new behind-the-scenes exclusive, the BBC’s Bhangra or Bust – ‘Our Lives’ (2020) is set to delve into the pain, sweat and tears involved in being a Bhangra dancer.
This popular dance form originated from the northern states of Punjab, India. Traditionally, Bhangra was enjoyed as part of celebrating the harvest time.
Held in Birmingham, the new BBC documentary revolves around teams competing in the great Bhangra Showdown.
Three months’ worth of filming was carried out as the teams worked hard to perfect their rigorous routines.
Despite the sequins and silk, this annual competition is much more than this as gruelling routines are refined.
For the last four years, the University of Birmingham has won the competition. This year (2020), the team will be led by Ajaypal Flora.
BBC’s documentary, Bhangra or Bust – ‘Our Lives’ (2020) sees their team compete in a dance battle against their local rivals Aston University.
Both teams will compete to regain the title on home soil. Interestingly, British Bhangra music was born in Birmingham.
Speaking about his team’s commitment, choreographer, trainer and dancer Ajaypal Flora says:
“After three months training together – you know hard, intense hours – you’re not really a team no more.
“You’re actually a family. Three months of training all comes down to seven and a half minutes on stage. It’s electrifying.”
Explaining why Bhangra is important to young dancers, Ajaypal says:
“I’m from Handsworth in Birmingham and it’s a very multicultural place. You’re so used to seeing so many different ethnicities and when I came to university, although it was still in Birmingham, I had a culture shock.
“I was surrounded by white people – different music to what I was accustomed to and different kinds of lifestyles.
“Bhangra gave me the place of belonging like it was Handsworth all over again.”
On the show, Manpreet Badh, another dancer on the team says:
“I just like the fact that I am Punjabi. I like the fact that there is something unique about being Punjabi and Bhangra is probably the best way of celebrating that.
“For me, it is just a very unique specific celebration of Punjabi culture.”
The competition is now a popular event which attracts thousands of fans to Britain’s biggest arenas.
As the Desi dance battle makes its way into Birmingham, BBC’s new documentary Bhangra or Bust – ‘Our Lives’ (2020) will give you an up-close look behind the scenes.
To see what it takes to be crowned winners, watch Bhangra or Bust – ‘Our Lives’ on BBC ONE on Wednesday, 5 August 2020 at 7.30 pm.