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Bollywood comes to Helena Friday, Oct. 17, for a special and unforgettable night of Indian food, music and dancing.

“We’re putting fun back into the word fundraiser,” said Karma Tensum, executive director of the local nonprofit, the Tibetan Children’s Education Foundation.

Last year, TCEF delighted a capacity crowd with an evening of Indian food and performances.

This time, the crowd gets to be part of the entertainment, when DJ Prashant Kakad brings his Bollywood Dreams dance party to the Helena Civic Center.

This is the first time he will be performing in Montana, Kakad said in a phone interview from Portland, Oregon, where he’s based.

For the uninitiated, Bollywood is the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (Bombay), India, deriving its name from merging Bombay and Hollywood.

The evening starts at 7 p.m. with dinner and a live and silent auction. Dancing is from 9 p.m. until midnight.

‘You don’t have to be a dancer to enjoy dancing at the event,” said TCEF project manager Valerie Hellermann.

This sentiment is also echoed by Kakad.

“We’re going to turn Helena, Montana, into Mumbai,” he said. “I’m bringing some dancers. Some guys are Indian, some are American.”

He calls his dances a cultural celebration where East meets the West.

“Put your dancing shoes on,” he said. “We’re going to dance all night long. It’s so much fun to bring music and dancing to an unsuspecting place.”

Kakad discovered a passion for dancing in his youth, after he was misdiagnosed with epilepsy.

Once he came to the United States, he received a correct diagnosis and began dancing -- first contra, then zydeco, then ballroom, salsa, West African and hip-hop. He found himself not just having fun, he said, but getting exceptionally physically fit in the process.

He’s taken elements of many of these dance forms and choreographed them into his Bollywood dances.

The former Intel engineer started out doing his Bollywood dance parties about 10 years ago, but has been doing them professionally the past five years and taking them on the road up and down the coast.

“They’re really, really high energy,” he said, “and inclusive. Everyone wants to be a part of it.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor or teacher or engineer, he said, “you’re just a person who enjoys dancing.”

For more information about Prashant Kakad, visit http://prashantkakad.com.

Dinner that night, prior to the dance, includes meat and vegetarian options: chicken curry, chicken biryani, vegetable biryani, mixed vegetable curry, cabbage curry, channa masala, papad and raita.

Among the live auction items is this particularly hot one -- a Portland Package, with two tickets to the production “The Typographers Dream,” lunch with Colin Meloy of the Decembrists and Carson Ellis, a $200 gift certificate at Cargo, Friday and Saturday nights at a hotel in Portland, and a $25 gift certificate to Powells Books.

Bollywood Night advance tickets are $50 including dinner, one free drink and, of course, hours of dancing. They are available online at: www.tibetchild.org/tcef-bollywood-night-2014/#more-1507 or by calling 406-461-8745.

Advance purchase of tickets is encouraged so enough food can be purchased and prepared. (The only tickets available at the door or for those who RSVP by calling the number above.)

To learn about TCEF's work and mission, visit www.tibetchild.org.

In preparation for the gala event, TCEF is also offering free dance lessons Tuesday, Oct. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Tango Studio, 13 W. Placer.

And for those who want to dress up Bollywood style, Bollywood clothes -- saris, turbans, bangles and scarves -- will be on sale at 1050 N. Ewing, 4 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 8. You’ll also get free costuming advice. Call 442-2386 for more information.

The night of the Bollywood Night gala, there will also be a Bollywood photo booth with dress-up clothes and a bazaar.

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Reporter Marga Lincoln can be reached at 447-4083 marga.lincoln@helenair.com

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