May 16, 2010

Becoming a Bollystar in Washington, D.C. (Part 1)

So you wanna pack your bags, move to Mumbai, and become the filmiest film star in Film City.  You're going to need three things (four if you include looks, but that's a given right?).  Not only do you need to be able to act (relatively anyways), but you need to be a great dancer and speak flawless Hindi*.

*None of this applies if your name is Katrina Kaif, apparently.

As far as learning 'the trade' goes, Washington, D.C. isn't the most ideal city, but it can still be done.  There are a couple of excellent outlets for picking up Hindi as well as a number of dance programs that can have you well on your way to your first Filmfare Award!

Learning Hindi in DC:

1.  The USDA Graduate School
The Graduate School at the United States Department of Agriculture offers top-notch instruction in more than a dozen foreign languages, including Hindi (and rumor has it that they'll be adding Urdu soon).  Classes are held over a ten week period (one three-hour class weekly) and are offered at four different levels. 

I've taken the Hindi courses at the USDA Grad School, and can vouch for the professionalism of the instructors and the program itself.  Word of caution:  these classes are intense.  Expect to spend ten or more hours each week studying and preparing assignments.  The classes move very fast, but you'll learn a lot.

2. The International Language Institute
The ILI is located in Dupont Circle and offers Hindi instruction on nine levels.  Its advantage over the USDA Graduate School is that it tends to offer more scheduling options; while classes are still held on an evening or weekend plan, you can generally choose between the two, which isn't always the case with the USDA (where you usually only have one section per level offered each session).

3.  The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Summer Language Institute
Whew.  Say that a few times!  SAIS, in addition to Hindi training offered as part of a graduate degree program in South Asian studies, also gives non-SAIS students an opportunity to study foreign languages intensively in the summer.  Hindi is offered at several levels (generally novice and intermediate) in a compressed 8-week session, with classes held Monday through Thursday evenings.  This option is far pricier than the USDA or ILI, but covers much more material and is designed to impart a solid grip on the language by the end of the summer.

Best of luck studying Hindi!  Tomorrow I'll talk about some of the best places to study "Bollywood" and Indian classical dance in the DC area.

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