Bollywood: The musical

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

It was a couple of years ago and the venue for the party was a friend's flat in suburban Killarney, in northern Johannesburg. The hostess was Indian. The food was delicious curry.

While some of us were waiting for late guests, we indulged in everything culturally Indian, first trying our luck at dancing.

Then, thank goodness, the clever hostess played a Bollywood movie.

This really saved the situation as it meant that some of us would not continue to embarrass ourselves trying out those tricky dance moves.

Indians have really made big strides when it comes to reviving their country in cultural terms - as well as their economy - and Bollywood, the high-flying Indian film industry, is a good example of this rebirth.

This week I was reminded of that Killarney party and how Bollywood has become a successful part of the world's global film market with the news that a theatrical dance spectacular, The Merchants of Bollywood,direct from Mumbai, will hit South African stages in May.

Brought out by 94.7 Highveld Stereo and East Coast Radio, the all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood-type musical extravaganza has already been hailed as a success by audiences and critics in Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the UK.

The performances are scheduled for the Indoor Arena at the International Convention Centre in Durban on May 19 and 20 - and at Montecasino's Teatro on May 24 and 25 - with matinee shows on both days in Johannesburg.

The Merchants of Bollywood, according to its advance publicity, is a dynamic, vibrant and energetic spectacle, based on the real life story of the show's choreographer.

It is a potent mixture of dreams and sacrifices, family rebellion and romance, and is set to some of the most memorable songs and dance routines drawn from the Indian film industry.

Written and directed by Toby Gough, the show features music by Salim and Sulaiman Merchant and is choreographed by leading film choreographer, Vaibhavi Merchant.

With a cast of 40 dancers and singers from the film industy, the musical follows the story of Ayesha Merchant, her grandfather Shantilal, and dramatises the inevitable clash of values between generations representing the old and new India.

It sounds like a must see.