A taste of Bollywood
Every year, the film industry of India churns out about 1,000 movies – more than twice the output of Hollywood. Most of these ultra-campy “Bollywood” films follow a simple format that includes hugely elaborate musical numbers, melodramatic heroes and villains and enough jiggling body parts to make Las Vegas blush.Indian films share another quality: Most Americans have never seen one, and even given the opportunity, it’s unlikely many of us would get far understanding the appeal. That was probably composer Andrew Lloyd’s Weber’s take when he conceived the idea for “Bombay Dreams,” a big-stage musical about Bollywood, the touring production of which just opened in Denver for a two-week run.”Bombay Dreams” represents an attempt to distill the entire Bollywood scene into a two-hour musical – just imagine trying to do that for Hollywood. As such, it tries to cover a lot of ground, stuffing elements of a typical Indian film into a thin plot centered on the making of one of the films in question. In typical Bollywood fashion, our hero Akaash (Sachin Bhatt) follows a rags-to-riches trajectory accompanied by two love interests: the famous star Rani (Sandra Allen) and the up-and-coming film director Priya (Reshma Shetty), who’s inconveniently engaged to a sleazy lawyer named Vikram (Deep Katdare).
Vikram is involved in some kind of plot to raze the slums from whence Akaash came, and at some point he shoots a transvestite in a sari over the whole deal, leaving Akaash and Priya free to marry. But that’s not the point, really. The point is, um … lots of signing and dancing and brightly colored costumes and sets. The point is also zippy Indian music fueled by two drummers elevated stage left and right. Written by top Bollywood film composer A.R. Rahman, the music is of the infectious pop variety that makes one long for early-onset Alzheimer’s to make it go away.Like last year’s film “Bride & Prejudice” that introduced American audiences to the syrupy glee of Indian cinema, “Bombay Dreams” is a palatable dose of an alien culture that goes down easy – even if all that jiggling can inspire some slight dyspepsia. Unlike the film, though, the musical never quite achieves that acme of non-stop frenzy, and the veneer of plot that holds it all together results in occasional flat spots no number of blurred fuchsia halter tops and ripped dancer bods can offset.For a break from the usual, though, this chutney confection a whimsical dip into modern Indian culture. Given the state of things in that crowded and troubled country, it’s no wonder they turn to diversions such as the “Diamond in the Rough” film depicted in the show. Ultimately, the Bollywood dream is the same as the Hollywood variety: rising above the crowd, making lots of money and looking good while you do it.Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2931, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado