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Home > Movies > Bollywood News

Bombay Dreams: A reckoner

Arthur J Pais | April 29, 2004 14:21 IST

Nearly four years after Shekhar Kapur and Andrew Lloyd Webber, arguably the most successful producer and composer in theatre with international hits like The Phantom Of The Opera and Cats to his credit, began plotting a musical love story set in Bollywood, Bombay Dreams arrives on Broadway on April 29.

The show has almost completed two years in London.

The official launch of the show in New York sets several records:

  • It is the first time in its 110 year-old history has Broadway welcomed a show set in India, and that too with all its central characters cast from the South Asian community in North America.
  • It is the first time that Hindi songs -- Chaiyya chaiyya and a qawwali-type song -- will be heard in a Broadway show.
  • It is the first time an Indian composer, AR Rahman, will be heard on Broadway. And the first time an Indian choreographer, Farah Khan,will be part of a Broadway show.

Below is some interesting information about the $14 million production being staged at Broadway Theatre which, with over 1,750 seats, is among the biggest theatres in New York.

  • The duration of the Anisha Nagarajan and Manu Narayan kiss at the end of the show: Over a minute.
  • The first choice to play Anisha's role of Priya, an independent minded movie director: Grammy Award winner Norah Jones, who could not accept the offer because of her other professional engagements.
  • Celebrities who saw Bombay Dreams during the previews: Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi.
  • The length of the brief on the show that writer Meera Syal had received in England three years ago: One page.
  • Among the desi investors Andrew Lloyd Webber had sought out in London: Hinduja Brothers who are not new to the show biz, world having financed several Amitabh Bachchan movies made by Manmohan Desai.
  • Number of desis who invested in the show in London: 0.
  • Number of desi investors in the Broadway production: 1 (Sudhir 'Sam' Vaishnav, who gets the billing of an associate producer).
  • Critics' reaction: In London, reviews were decidedly mixed, but everyone was effusive about A R Rahman's score.
  • The item that galvanised the show in London: The Shakalaka baby number featuring Ayesha Dharker. It started some 40 minutes after the show began. But on Broadway, a show-stopping song starts quite early on when the slum dwellers sing and dance using the home appliances.
  • The number of fountains used in London in the Shakalaka baby number: 13.On Broadway: 32.
  • The budget of Bombay Dreams in London, about $7 million; in America, about $14 million.
  • The number of lip-synced numbers in the London show: 3. In New York: 1. Shakalaka baby is in the voice of Preeya Kalidas, who played the lead in the London production.
  • A memorable line from the London show that is missing in New York: A character declaring that in Bollywood the only copyright producers know is the right to copy (perhaps inspired by a Page 1 article in the trade publication Variety attributed to the poet Sahir Ludhianvi.)
  • A significant song dropped from the London show: Like an eagle featuring Aakash, the Bollywood-bound slum boy.
  • The reason for dropping the song in New York: Tony winner Thomas Meehan, who worked with Meera Syal in revising the script did not want Aakash to sound arrogant. He wanted him to be an idealistic and ambitious young man from the slums who unwittingly loses his soul when he becomes a movie star but fights to regain it towards the end of the show.
  • The newly added Bollywood number: Thesong, Mujhe rang de from the movie, Takshak.
  • The only artist imported from the London show: Ayesha Dharker, the sizzling but ageing movie star in the show. She has a green card.
  • The state the parents of three principal artists -- Manu Narayan, Anisha Nagarajan and Sriram Ganesan --come from: Tamil Nadu.
  • The advance Bombay Dreams has on the opening night: About $6 million, including group bookings. The advance a hugely popular show such as The Producers had on the opening night: At least $30 million
  • A famous Bollywood term used in the musical: Dishum-dishum. It also appears in a delightful context at the very end.

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