When Carol Furtado arrived home after an evening out at a Mumbai nightclub and told her parents a choreographer wanted her to join his dance troupe, they did not share her enthusiasm.
"Here was I, so excited, but I think you can say they were less than thrilled. They told me there was no way that was happening ... "
Two decades on, Furtado laughs as she recounts the story of how said choreographer, Santosh Sharma, visited her parents to prove he was the real deal then drove her to and from performances which were only allowed in her hometown.
Even she, a keen but untrained dancer, didn't see it as a career option. Then a sociology student, Furtado planned to finish her degree and find a job because, as she says, in India, a university degree is a passport to pretty much any career you want.
"But I was earning really good money — my pocket money — while I carried on studying and enjoying every bit of it; I started travelling more and then, one day, woke up and realised dance was a career — my career — and I wasn't cut out for the 9-to-5 office-job routine."
Furtado now has a lengthy list of international stage and screen appearances to her name and the stamps in her passport to prove hers is a life of travel, dance and art-making.
This month, she visits Australia and New Zealand as the star of international smash hit musical The Merchants of Bollywood.
Exactly as the name suggests, it's a heady mix of glitz, glamour, song, dance and romance inspired by the world's most prodigious film industry and one of its founding fathers, Hiralalji Merchant.
While it's choreographed by his granddaughter Vaibhavi, it was written by Australian Toby Gough and launched 22 years ago to pay tribute to the Bollywood greats of yesteryear.
Check out Gough's CV and you'll see he really does like to cross "cultures and conventions".
That's something he shares with Furtado, who candidly admits that when she was first approached about the role in 2006 she wasn't keen to join.
Furtado says while she grew up steeped in Bollywood films, music and dance — "you're kind of just born into it and it's ingrained in you" — she wanted to explore more cross-cultural and contemporary work.
A friend told her she'd be perfect for The Merchants of Bollywood and while she politely declined his suggestions to audition, he'd already sent her CV and photos to its casting directors.
Not wanting to sully her reputation, she agreed to attend "a meeting" but found herself in a roomful of experienced actors at a read-thru.
"I walked into a room and there they all were — proper theatre people! I thought they would swallow me whole so I decided the best thing to do was to make the most of the situation, read to the best of my ability and then leave when they realised I had zero actual acting experience."
But Furtado believes in destiny — "just look at what happened at the start of all this at the nightclub!" — and found herself in a starring role. She did more than 1000 performances, in places as far apart as the Statue of Liberty and the Great Wall of China, and now she's rejoined the show after a five-year break.
She loves the energy, finds the storyline — a mix of romance and comedy — heart-warming and, of course, lives for the dance. The whole thing, she says, celebrates diversity and captures the essence of India, including its rich history and culture.
Having had a five-year break from the show, launching her own apparel design business, Furtado is keen to return to the stage as the heroine of The Merchant of Bollywood.
"We've been in places like China and Poland, where people don't understand a word of English, but Bollywood has made it into the culture and they're curious and want to see what it's all about.
"The music and dance transcends all of that because Bollywood was never for a niche audience but for everyone to enjoy."
What: The Merchants of Bollywood
Where & when: Civic, Thursday, October 18 — Sunday, October 21