The Girl Behind the Kaala Chashma

Invisibles

The Girl Behind the Kaala Chashma

T

he room is swarming with them, lithe bodies twisting to a synth tune. The walls are covered with mirrors and the dancers seem to be performing for themselves, eyes locked with their own images. The room is blazing with tubelights and as the bass drops, “Tenu Kaala Chashma, Tenu Kalaa, Kalaa…” they vine down to the ground and put on their sunglasses.

The tallest among them is Robyn Toollady. In the video, the dancers are kitted out in what can only be called try-hard kitsch: turbans, dhotis, red lipstick, and dark sunglasses. But on the day of the rehearsals, like everybody else in the room, she is dressed in dark joggers and white sneakers. Her black tee is knotted at the waist and her pin-straight hair sways in unison with her waist, as she matches steps with the thirty other dancers in the room. As the sound of the Punjabi hipshaker dies down, the twang of Scouse takes over. Most of the thirty dancers here are white and British.

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