With Bollywood movies delighting cinema audiences all over the UK, outperforming many blockbusters based on their screen averages, a theatrical homage to Bombay's Tinseltown was inevitable. But who knew that it would quite as vibrant, energetic and sexy as this sublime show? Writer and director Toby Gough has already had people dancing in the aisles with his Cuban dance-a-thon Lady Salsa but this show beats that hands down.
The narrative may be loose - we follow the history of the Merchant family’s impact on Bombay’s celluloid dreams - but the dance is fast, papering over the cracks. Tony Mirchandani acts as your guide through the archives as a troupe of honed dancers perform electric dance moves from past to present.
There is romance between Uday (the superb dancer with unending energy Deepak Rawat) and Ayesha (the beautiful and enigmatic Carol Furtado) and slapstick comedy which gives the dancers a well earned rest. Sure, the lines are corny and sometimes you smirk when you are supposed to shed a tear. But the colourful costumes, slick approach to dance and fast moving scene changes take you to another world. You surrender almost immediately, realising that the limitations of the genre are outweighed by the enthusiasm of the committed cast and Vaibhavi Merchant's break neck choreography.
Salim and Sulaiman Merchant's music is hypnotic and provides a superb soundtrack for the somersaults and sultry dance moves. It is so refreshing to see a show like this in a regional theatre. With Lord Of The Dance looking very tired and Riverdance about to tour, the time is right for Merchants. It brings Bollywood fans to the theatre to relive their favourite movie moments. This is far from a niche audience production though; it is likely to please all-comers as the dancers have individual personalities that seduce you from their first move onwards. Fun is the key here and on that score, the show delivers throughout.
Such high octane dance is hard to come by in a commercial venture such as this, so its purity is to be welcomed. One character says: “I’m leaving
For Bollywood” and I was tempted to shout: “I’m coming with you.” As the audience joined in for the disco dance- off during the finale, I’m sure they agreed with my sentiments.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Opera House, Manchester.)