Monthly Archives: July 2011
Thanks to my fellow dance enthusiasts Eliz and Rhiannon, I got to see Merchants of Bollywood at The Peacock Theatre.
Here’s the story according to the producers:
The story begins in India, in the deserts of Rajasthan, in the temple of Shiva. The Merchant family dynasty holds the responsibility of upholding the ancient traditions of the Kathak dance, the dance of the Gods. Shantilal Merchant is the last in the line of gurus. This tradition is about to die out.
Shantilal was formerly a choreographer in the golden era of India’s great film industry, Bollywood. India was recovering from Partition. Division in the country had ripped the heart and soul of the people apart and Shantilal believed that Cinema could heal the wounds.
Shantilal left when the industry grew commercial and lawless, influenced by western trends and dirty money. Shantilal began his own dance school in the desert, teaching traditional folk dance.
His granddaughter Ayesha left Rajasthan against his wishes to become the reigning queen of choreography of Bollywood films today. She has the Midas touch. They cal her “The Princess of Romance”.
Although they are family, their approach to film choreography could not be further apart.
Shantilal believed that films should change people’s lives. Ayesha believes film should help people escape.
Reality or fantasy – there lies the conflict.
Ayesha’s teenage rebellion against her classical training, in favor of modern western dance styles, was the seed of their fued. The damage seems irreparable. Ayesha resolves to visit Shantilal to make peace.
Her journey takes her to the heart of India – the deserts of Rajasthan and into the arms of her childhood sweetheart Uday. In the temple, the fires are burning low. Her grandfather is dying. There is no one left to continue the family tradition, performing the dance of the Gods.
Ayesha decides to marry Uday, and stay in Rajasthan to run her father’s dance school and maintain the family traditions. But she will run the school her way, in a balance of
old and new. The finale of the show is colourful, thrilling, high-energy fusion of folk, classical, modern, Western and Indian dance forms.
Tears are shed, old wounds are healed, age-old conflict is reconciled in a powerful journey to the sacred heart of dance.
I heard that the story is loosely based on two real-life Bollywood figures: Hiralalji Merchant and his granddaughter Vaibhavi Merchant.
I loved the music, the choreography and the general feel good factor the show gave out!