When Disney’s Beauty And The Beast (BATB), supported by Hindustan Times, went live last year, little did the makers know that the audience’s reaction would surpass their own expectations. With sold out shows in both Mumbai and Delhi, the makers are now geared up for round two. Naturally, Sidharth Roy Kapur is investing all his energies into making the once-in-a-lifetime show bigger and better. Here, he discusses the Broadway-style musical, why it’s a good-luck charm for them and more.
The first set of shows of BATB was very well received. Does that increase the pressure on you as a producer?
Since BATB was a never-seen-before Broadway-style musical introduced in the country for the first time ever, the pressure was definitely high then. With the success of the shows, the musical has set the stage for what could be a great future not just for Disney, but for the live entertainment industry in India on the whole. It is the biggest production of the musical anywhere in the world. While we are thrilled with the response that the first season received, we are now focused on recreating the same magic, grandeur and quality entertainment for season two.
Many would’ve assumed you’d get Lion King to India. What prompted you to choose BATB?
We decided to go ahead with BATB for multiple reasons. The musical has been our first show, the first entry, in the live entertainment market in most countries. In the US, we made our Broadway debut with this show, and subsequently, in over 28 countries too. So, it’s like a good luck charm for us now. More importantly, it is a simple and beautiful love story with the core themes of love and redemption, which resonate across all cultures. The success of the film, the popular songs and characters, and the familiarity of the story amongst Indian audiences also played a crucial role in making this our first choice.
After the first set of shows, what did you realise about the Indian audience?
Our experiment of bringing audiences a new genre of entertainment worked wonderfully well last year, with sold out shows in Mumbai and Delhi and a demand for more shows. Today, Indians are willing to spend on entertainment, provided the experience is unique. BATB’s simple story and relatable characters is something that will draw in the audiences for sure.
The investment in these shows was huge. What led you to taking such a big risk?
Our core philosophy, globally as well as in India, is to constantly look at serving audiences with unique, high-quality entertainment experiences that create unforgettable memories. Live stage musicals emerged as the ideal platform to bring this to life for Indian families. Our research showed that there was a void of quality family entertainment options that we as Indians have today. Other than eating out, watching a movie and shopping don’t provide much [entertainment]. We thought that it is the right time to introduce Indian audiences with a Broadway-style musical.
When do you plan to expand to other metros?
We will be happy to take the show to other cities in India, as we truly believe there is a demand for unique family experiences beyond Mumbai and Delhi. However, it will eventually depend on whether we are able to find the right venues to mount a show of this scale. The current theatrical venues in India offer very little scope for a production this size. Therefore, we reimagined the show to fit an arena/stadium set-up, and went for unconventional venues like the ones in Mumbai and Delhi. Both those mini-arenas gave us the freedom to mount the show in a format that has never been done before anywhere in the world.
What more can we expect from your end?
Currently, all our energies are focused on making the second season of BATB a memorable experience for our audiences. As far as other shows are concerned, we are exploring our options.