Monday, December 31, 2007

The Merchants of Bollywood

‘In an Indian version of Titanic, the iceberg would have melted…’

The plot of a true mainstream Indian film, alas commonly known as Bollywood, should be like an authentic Indian meal. It is all about a dazzling array of spices: conflict, love and a happy end.

Welcome to the glitter and kitsch of Bollywood - The Show, straight from the heart of Mumbai (Bombay). Saw it in Amsterdam last night and it was simply brilliant. A full house, well organised and an awesome two-hour long opulent feast for sore eyes and ears. Compelling infectious music, dance an colourful costumes. Special lighting effects (by Lize Berry, the London light designer who was also responsible for the Robbie Williams shows). If you don't believe me, then by all means click on the Bollywood promo. Have fun and don't forget to first switch off the musical playlist (top right).

And then these exceptional choreographies done by none other than Vaibhavi Merchant, the youngest daughter of the famous Merchant family. And boy, does she know her stuff. Her resume includes choreographies for film gems like Umrao Jaan, Lagaan and Devdas. The music was composed and arranged by Salim and Sulaiman Merchant.

True, lots of Merchants, but then again the plot of Bollywood - The Show is based on the true family story of one of the largest Indian film dynasties: the Merchant family. Through the eyes of the Merchant family the audience is taken for a ride along eighty year of popular Indian cinema. In between we get a tongue in cheek peak inside the world's largest film industry. And when I say ‘largest’, I really mean business, as popular Indian cinema producess some 800 films a year with about 15 million tickets sold a day!!! Gulp, that is like the entire Dutch nation going to see some film every night.

Bollywood - The Show has been shown in Australia, Asia
, Spain, Switzerland and Germany (no less than 43 cities) and these last three days it was in Amsterdam.

Pity you missed it. Oh well, perhaps something to look forward to in 2008? No sarcasm intended. Happy New Year to you all.

As for this New Year, chances are that I might be interviewing India's finest actrice: Mrs Shabana Azmi. I only need confirmation in writing, as she has already said 'yes' on the phone. So keep your fingers crossed that she does not change her mind. Her often controversial films make Ayaan Hirsi Ali's fourteen-minute Submission seem like a walk in the park. And the good part about it is that Azmi's films actually make a difference.