Columbian crooner Shakira's Indian-themed performance of her hit number, Hips don't lie (featuring Wyclef Jean) at the MTV Video Music Awards that aired live on August 31, 2006 from Radio City Music Hall, New York has won hands down as the talk of desi-town these past few days.
An entrancing capsule reminiscent of star-flecked Bollywood entourages staged in India and abroad, this was a performance that stood out for many reasons.
Firstly, to the very significant Diaspora teen and in-between age group that has been tapping most enthusiastically to the already popular original version.
This was an interesting foray into the Bollywood crossover mechanism, one that categorically put the spotlight on the burgeoning Indian entertainment industry and its growing reach here.
Further, teenagers or otherwise, the Indian film industry has over time unfalteringly continued to impact NRIs everywhere as one of the rare unifying factors between them, even as they live away from their homeland.
Gujju, Punju or Baniya, everyone loves Aamir Khan or at the very least knows about him. In that context, a choreographed Indian rig such as this becomes a tell-tale Indian talking point, especially when posters of an Indianised, veiled Shakira are plastered all over town.
Hips don't lie, the second single of Shakira's second English album Oral Fixation Vol 2 released on November 29, 2005 in North America, Australia, and Continental Europe and re-released in June 2006, has been ruling popular charts here.
It continued to ride air and tube waves, becoming her first single to reach the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart.
Despite its popularity, to many 'serious' music lovers, it remained the patterned, predictable, gyrating, belly-swivelling eye-candy that the attractive singer-songwriter is famous for.
However, since Shakira was the most nominated artist of the year for this year's MTV VMAs with seven nominations (all for Hips don't lie), including 'Video of the Year' and 'Best Female Video', her presence at the Awards function was significant.
Add to that her phenomenal fan base that includes Indian Americans, and one sees just why a 3-minute performance with a Bollywood backdrop became larger than life.
Though Shakira won only one award for choreography, her on-stage performance to popular Indian choreographer Farah Khan's directions had audiences riveted.
Shakira is credited with the choreography for the original video and her innovative Indianisation of it for the gig revealed her own fascination with the fusion performances Khan is popular for.
As for the performance itself, Shakira appeared on stage in a flagrant fuchsia ensemble which appeared to bear an uncanny semblance to flamboyant characters straight out of mythic Amar Chitra Katha comics and Indian period films.
Succoured by an equally loud group of lehenga attired backup dancers, she kick-started the performance in a muted Indian classical dance format replete with popular mudras.
The potpourri performance, which veered uneasily between classical Indian, popular Indian and hardly-Indian bearings, is credited not only to Farah Khan (who seemed overawed with the dancer and under-sourced with the content) but also to Chicago's classical Indian dance company Kalapriya Dance and its artistic director Pranita Jain.
While the Grammy-winner's unrivalled curve-appeal more than made up for obvious lapses in the dance for many, some traditional advocates of classical Indian art forms remained unimpressed and even miffed with what to them was a heedless jamboree that pandered to popular representation or misrepresentation, depending on how one looks at it.
However, the impact that a popular artists' collaborative thrust with the Indian entertainment fraternity can have on its overall perception is huge.
Shakira, performing in the company of fellow listeners including Beyonce Knowles, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, to an enormous audience in and outside of the US, rendered the Bollywood routine iridescent.
It may have been a trifle tawdry but really, who cares about adulteration when a talented belly dancing Latina willingly gives up patented moves to shake a leg.