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Rediff News  All News  » Movies » It's shakalaka time in the US!

It's shakalaka time in the US!

Last updated on: May 14, 2004 23:39 IST

Ayesha DharkerAyesha Dharker's hip-swaying song and dance number Shakalaka baby is a huge attraction in Bombay Dreams on Broadway.

But unlike on Broadway, where the ticket costs $64, millions of Americans and Canadians got to see the show-stopping number free!

The song was broadcasted by ABC's Good Morning America show to an estimated two million North American homes on Friday, May 14.

Dharker also showed co-host Diane Sawyer how the 'golden globes' (as her bosom is referred to in the show) are jiggled.

About 8 in the morning, co-host Charlie Gibson mentioned that the show's weather expert, who usually spends time discussing hot and cold weather and chats with the fans, would lead an audience to Broadway Theatre, a few minutes' walk from the ABC office on Broadway.

The camera followed the crowd walking into the theatre, where Sawyer talked a bit about the show. This was followed by a quick reference to Bollywood and how the songs are invariably lip-synced there. The show mentioned how Bollywood movies tend to go over the top.

Bombay Dreams star Manu Narayan along with 30 dancers joined Dharker for the A R Rahman composition choreographed by Farah Khan and Anthony Van Laast.

After the three-minute-long song sequence was over, the audience burst into loud and spontaneous applause. Sawyer asked Dharker how she goes through the sensual dance movement. Narayan also demonstrated how he sways his hips.

Nominated for three Tony Awards, including choreography, Bombay Dreams grosses shot up 13 per cent last week to an impressive $776,000.

Though the show missed out in categories like best musical and acting, the Tony nomination for choreography helped the song reach ABC.

The producers of the show could not have asked for a better (and free) publicity. Including the interviews, the show got about six minutes on the popular morning show.

Shakalaka baby was a showstopper in London, where the musical is approaching a two-year run. Ayesha performed it for nearly a year before opting out to do a film assignment.

"Ayesha brings to the show wonderful energy and radiance," Elizabeth Williams, one of the show's lead producers, said. "We were very lucky to get her for our production."

Dharker was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle supporting actress, along with Sriram Ganesan. Both failed to win.

Even those reviewers who panned the show admitted that Shakalaka Baby and several other numbers displayed the kind of energy most Broadway shows do not have. Ben Brantley in The New York Times cited the number, calling it a surreal experience. Many critics also praised Dharker's dancing. The actress won't be singing the number though. As in the London show, the New York edition uses the recorded song in the voice of Preeya Kalidas, who played the lead in the London production. Composer Rahman liked her voice so much that he got her to record the number so that Dharker could lip-sync it.

The London edition also uses a pre-recorded qawwali by singer Sukhwindra Singh. But in New York, the unions insisted against the use of recorded music.

"We got an exception made for Shakalaka baby," director Steven Pimlott told "after we pointed out that the song and dance sequence is an example of how lip-syncing is done in Bollywood." Dharker, who hardly sang a line in the London show, gets to sing quite a few lines on Broadway in the Beautiful, Beautiful Ladies number.

Arthur J Pais