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May 9, 2017
Steve Chilton. Pictures Nicola Young
Bring on the Bollywood, Belgrade B2, until May 13
If you took the bling of ‘Strictly’, the kitsch of Eurovision and the farcical love story of a Mamma Mia you’d have the basic ingredients for Bring On The Bollywood.
Then you’d have to throw in a sack of red hot Indian spices and more colours than an explosion in a day-glo paint factory.
It’s outrageously over-the-top, and it knows it, managing to be both a send-up of Bollywood excess and a celebration of the musical phenomenon.
And good golly, Miss Bolly, they sure know how to dance.
If your idea of Indian dancing is basic bhangra (turn the doorknob, change an overhead light-bulb) prepare yourself for a blitzkrieg.
Nisha Aaliya leads the cast on a dazzling array of dances which make Riverdance look like a Sunday stroll.
Throw jive, bhangra, waltz, break dance and hip-hop in the blender and set to turbo charge and you might get close.
Nisha plays the improbable Dr Katrina Pawar, a sassy thoroughly modern Ms, capable of emptying a champagne bottle before her plane has taken off while keeping a predatory eye open for available talent.
And when she dances, well, fasten your seat belts, audience. The beautiful doc could scorch the runway.
Besides her obvious talent as a dancer, Pawar has an engaging flair for light comedy and a strong voice.
Which is just as well as love interest Ronny Kapoor, played by Robby Khela, sings like an angel. Their duet on Lag Ja Gale near the end of the first act is sublime.
The plot, not that it matters greatly, involves a tangle of love stories played out at Katrina’s family home in India, dominated by an overbearing mother, Lalita, played by Sakuntala Ramanee.
Her portrayal of the Indian matriarch desperate to see her children make the right marriage plays to the stereotype but it is performed with a panache that delighted a knowing audience.
There are also many East v West asides which, while mainly thrown in for comedic effect, (you Brits only come over here to steal our jobs) sometimes offer a more critical observation, most pointedly in a scene dealing with the Hindu caste system.
But this isn’t a musical where you’ll need to put on your thinking cap. Bionic dancing shoes, maybe, if you’ve any chance of keeping up.
The Belgrade’s B2 studio is certainly intimate enough to make you feel part of action. But I thought cramped the production somewhat.
The musical also suffered from overlong blackouts in parts, no doubt because of the many costume changes needed. A price worth paying, on balance.
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