‘Merchants Of Bollywood’ thrill South Africans

June 2nd, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, June 2 (IANS) The live stage show “The Merchants of Bollywood”, providing entertainment along with an insight into the Mumbai-based film industry, ended the South African leg of its international tour with sold-out shows in capital Johannesburg and the coastal city of Durban. It’s easy to see why the show is hugely popular. While it entertains and educates the audience about Bollywood’s development through the decades, it also subtly gets the spectators to question their own values, stigmas and difficulty with change.

This is done through the conflict between Bollywood choreographer Ayesha Merchant and her grandfather Shantilal who considers dance sacred and refuses to compromise his traditional values.

Putting all this into a fascinating spectacle through impressive sound, lighting and props, “The Merchants of Bollywood” has something for all ages - from the snatches of classical items that are the root of all Indian dance and music to the modern-day Western styles adopted by Bollywood.

From the covert messages of Indian cinema having developed as a binding medium for nation-building after the partition of British India into two nations, to the conflict of values between the older and younger generation, the tale of the Merchant dynasty is well-told by the narrators and the dancers with smooth-flowing items, albeit in a frenetic pace.

Moving from the silent era to the talkies and then the golden age of the 60s and 70s to the present times, “The Merchants of Bollywood” presents the Indian film industry to global audiences in a way that will undoubtedly leave them thirsting for more knowledge of Bollywood.

Fans of Indian cinema will recognise the parodies of stars of yesteryear and today and the references to such magnificent films as “Mughal-e-Azam”, with the legendary dance by actress Madhubala in the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors). Newcomers, especially in the West, can still take it in, without needing background knowledge.

The South African public lapped up the extravaganza. Sadly, “The Merchants of Bollywood” had a very short run in the country, which ended here Sunday after shows in Durban earlier in the week. But if returns, it’s sure to be a crowd puller.

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