When Aussie theatrical producer-director duo Mark Brady and Toby Gough knocked on Bollywood’s doors back in 2004, they didn’t know what to expect. With no contacts in the Indian film industry, they simply showed up in Mumbai, hoping to meet the right people.
“We had just begun to hear about this huge, lavish film industry in India, as many Bollywood movies were being shot in Australia. That’s when we decided to put together a show on Bollywood,” says Brady. Soon, they bumped into choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant and modelled the musical on her life, with an apt title, The Merchants Of Bollywood. “The show delves into the relationship between Vaibhavi and her grandfather — the vintage choreographer, Shri B Hiralal. It’s the classic Bollywood conflict between old and new traditions. We based it on her struggles and where the relationship ended at the end of Hiralal’s life,” adds Brady. The musical, which ropes in music directors Salim-Sulaiman, is two hours long and explores Indian film music from the 1940s till the present day.
What’s strange, however, is that India hasn’t figured in any of its 1,000 shows that have been staged all over Australia, Europe, the Middle East and even China. According to Brady, the pinnacle of its success was when it completed three seasons at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. “That was the dream; it’s pretty amazing that we did it,” he says.
So what’s kept them from doing a show here, given the fact that it is run completely from Film City, Mumbai — music, cast, crew, the works? “Though the show is exported from India, it wasn’t designed to play there. I think for India, it’s what you already know and have grown up on. But it’s new and interesting for the western audience,” he explains.
Ask Viraf Sarkari, director at event management company Wizcraft, about their recent foray into Bollywood musicals with productions like Zangoora and more recently Jhumroo, and he says, “Such performances were non-existent in India till about a year and a half ago. I found that strange, given that the whole world was going gaga over Bollywood and we didn’t have a single show.” That’s what inspired Wizcraft to create The Kingdom Of Dreams with the help of the Apra Group in Gurgaon, Haryana. This live entertainment venue, spread out over six acres, comprises two theatres and a Bollywood-themed café. Zangoora, their first musical, has already seen 650 shows and packs in a production budget of 25 crore. Jhumroo, which recently made its debut, draws from Kishore Kumar’s life and features many of his popular songs. “We’re still going sold-out on Zangoora mostly and Jhumroo’s first weekend was naturally sold out.”
Looking at the success of international Bollywood musicals, Sarkari plans to take his shows abroad too. “From this year on, we’ll tour with Zangoora to the Middle East, Europe, Australia and China. With the quality and level of production we’re providing, I don’t think any other theatre company can match us from this part of the world,” says Sarkari. Brady’s show too, after taking a year’s break, will start doing the global rounds later this year. “My challenge in the musical’s seventh year is not just to keep it fresh and vibrant, but to keep it going and give it a long life,” he says.
City DJs list the dance tracks most in demand over the last week:
DJ Dash, Trilogy, Juhu
Rack City — Tyga
Breathing — Jason DeRulo
Part Of Me — Katy Perry
Get Yourself Back Home —
Gym Class Heroes featuring Neon Hitch
Call Me Maybe — Carly Rae Jepsen
Priyesh, Wink, Vivanta by Taj President
Lamur — Guy J
True Magic — Switch Mode
Underneath the Abyss — Mididropmusic
Unfold — Gregor Tresher
DJ Roane, Hard Rock Cafe, Worli
We Are Young — Fun featuring Janelle Monae
Somebody That I Used To Know — Gotye featuring Kimbra
Look Around — Red Hot Chili Peppers
Drive — Trains
Simple Song- The Shins
DJ Roane, Shiro, Worli
Turn Me On — David Guetta featuring Nikki Minaj
Wild Ones — Florida featuring Sia
Girl Gone Wild — Madonna
Feel So Close — Calvin Harris
Titanium - David Guetta