TAMPA — India’s most popular American actor, John Travolta, might be going Bollywood.
At a Saturday afternoon news conference at the downtown Hilton hotel, during four days of activities sponsored by the International Indian Film Academy, Travolta announced he was considering a role in a Bollywood film tentatively called “Pani,” which is Hindi for water.
The movie, he said, will begin production in the fall and be led by veteran Bollywood director Shekhar Kapur.
The Indian academy has proclaimed that one reason for holding its awards celebration in the United States was to build a bridge between Hollywood and Bollywood.
Travolta, an Ocala resident who belongs to the Church of Scientology, which has its spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, would be the first modern Hollywood star to lead a Bollywood film. He seems a logical ambassador due to his famed dance moves as well as his acting chops. Most of Bollywood’s biggest stars also excel at both.
Travolta told the roomful of news reporters he identifies with Bollywood films.
“I cannot deny music and dance in my life,” he said. “It is part of my soul. This is part of most of Bollywood’s films and I agree with it.”
Travolta said the current script for “Pani” did not include a song and dance number for the character he might play.
Travolta danced into stardom in the movies “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Staying Alive,” and later laced up dancing shoes again for a scene in “Pulp Fiction,” and then for the big screen version of the popular musical “Hairspray.”
“Every time I’ve had the opportunity to sing or dance in a movie, it’s been a glorious opportunity,” he said.
He added that he hopes Bollywood begins to cross over into Hollywood by inspiring the American film industry to embrace song and dance as a regular part of its cinema.
“I’ve always felt that acting with song and dance is a more complete communication,” he said, “I would love for the Bollywood influence to give Hollywood more confidence in musical and dance.”