A musical on the vintage 1970s Bollywood is finally set to premiere in the city, at NCPA, eight years after it opened in the UK. Sohaila Kapur’s Mahim Junction, presented by her brother Shekhar Kapur, opened at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2002 and was sponsored by the UK Arts Council. The Council had taken the play on a five-city tour in the UK.
The delay, Kapur says, often happens because of funding issues. Was Bollywood the natural choice for a subject, given Shekhar Kapur’s involvement with films? “He was a pakka angrez (complete Englishman) and disliked Hindi cinema. It was me who used to be fascinated by Bollywood,” she laughs."I’ve grown up watching Bollywood films. They were not great but they made me happy. When I went to Canada, I was this depressed new immigrant. I then decided to write a play on the cinema of the ’70s to get the feeling of happiness back," Kapur explains. She finished it in two days and sent it to a friend, who got it its first premiere.
She explains how she arrived at the title: “The characters live on a disused platform in Mahim Junction and therefore the name.”
The play in English lovingly spoofs the stereotypes of the ’70s and recalls the nostalgia. Complete with songs and dance, coy women, lecherous villains, comic cops and kitschy morality, the story is set in a slum in suburban Mumbai. The motley crowd include Rahim, the kind-hearted local dada, who is in love with Radha, the local belle who dreams of becoming a film heroine.
The play has toured Muscat, Dubai, Hyderabad and after its Mumbai premiere, will head to China and Malaysia. Kapur is writing another play called Tributaries for NCPA’s Sufi festival in November.