For lack of exposure to Iranian entertainment, I have
been known to indulge in anything Asian, to feel closer
I get my fair share of Japanese Animé, Chinese
Opera, Arabic Belly dancing, and enjoy a good Bollywood
film as much as the next guy. Indian music, and culture,
particulary Bollywood has been a staple of our film repetoire
since we were kids
in Iran. In the days of Spiderman 2 and Independence
for original plot and good entertainment in every theatre,
playhouse, and metro station this side of Kerman. And
I continue to feel a certain affinity to Indian culture,
is still warm, and strangely familiar.
So on occasion, for lack of Samaad in Silicon Valley or Italia
Italia Returns, I once again rely
on Bollywood for a little mindless entertainment. Just
last week, I convinced a few of my
friends to see
by Andrew Lloyd Webber called Bombay Dreams.
classic rags-to-riches story involving a slum boy, Akaash,
and the daughter of a Bollywood
film director, Priya, sounds promising but lacks passion,
energy. When big city developers come to ruin Akaash's
slummy neighborhood to construct a brand new cineplex theatre,
he promises to become a big movie star and save the day.
some unbelievable chain of events, Akaash
meets a big Bollywood director and gets the leading role
in his hit movie. In
even though he is dating his co-star, the Indian Pamela
Anderson. Meanwhile Priya
is also engaged
to another man, who just happens to be the evil developer.
In the end, Akaash miraculously defeats all the bad people
and wins Priya's heart over. He becomes a famous actor,
of money and a group of slummy friends who love him for being
such a great guy.
I have many issues with this production,
the least of which is the cliché plot.
Akaash and Priya's forbidden love is never given the due
attention it deserves,
are never really invested in the affair. The clear
slummy people versus evil corporate developers
mix, making this a very predictable, and yawn-infested
event. Adding insult to injustice, half the ''romance'' songs
are slow, kitsch, painful, a tad English-Rose-Garden, and
suspiciously Jean Valjean-esque. And as much as I love
flashbacks to the 80's, I can get that on VH1 any day of
the week. To be fair, there are some fun, light-hearted
song and dance numbers including ‘Shakalaka
Baby’ and ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ dazzle
with great beat, and fluid movement.
In addition, the cast is incredibly
and versatile. The customes are also very
colorful, vibrant, and appropriate. Perhaps composer A
R Rahman should
stayed closer to
Hindi songs to lure us in.
Unfortunately, the sparse
an entire musical that is
struggles to find an identity between Webber's
long line of West End hits and a great traditional
Bollywood number transported onto a New York stage.
The latter is what I had expected, and instead I got a
mish mash that
neither Bollywood, nor Broadway. The one thing it can be
is Boring, with a capital B. If anyone is listening,
I would have liked to see more culture, more humor, more
and a better story. Slapping a Sari on The Phantom, and
adding a couple of B Flat's, just isn't