Review: The Merchants Of Bollywood

Entertainment extravaganza returns to the stage

Posted: 26.05.16

The Merchants of Bollywood has been paying homage to the biggest film industry in the world, on global stages for ten years. Having watched the show almost a decade ago on its maiden tour in the UK, I was excited to be blown away once more by this spectacular dance troupe, hailing all the way from the heart of Bollywood, Mumbai – and it did not disappoint, once again.

Although at its core it is all about the music and moves, the performances are thoughtfully woven around the story of the Merchant family in the mystical and desert region of Rajasthan, Shantilal, the head guru, who is stubbornly insistent on upholding the ancient traditions of the sacred Kathak dance. The love of dance runs through the Merchant family bloodline, as Shantilal’s beloved granddaughter is passionate about dance. However, generational differences come in between the pair, as the tale unfolds and reveals a clashing of ideals – Shantilal is fiercely protecting an ancient art form, whilst Ayesha dreams of making it big in Bollywood and fusing tradition with contemporary techniques.

Carol Furtado portrays the strong-headed Ayesha effortlessly, with tenacious command and poise in her voice and dance, whilst Denzil Leonard Smith believably plays the role of Shantilal, with his domineering stance and powerful delivery of dialogue. The story is wonderfully narrated by Arif Ahmed Zakaria, who delightfully kept the audience engaged through a multitude of characters, contributing to the humorous element of the show.

Witnessing the dance crew fluidly performed with the utmost precision and ease, exuding an almost super human level of energy and enthusiasm, was thoroughly entertaining. Every flawless routine was beautifully choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant herself, as the story is loosely based on her own dancing journey and background. You can’t help but get drawn into their lure and will find yourself tapping your feet. The spectacle includes all representative aspects of Bollywood – the glitzy and glamorous costumes, thumka-inducing, familiar filmi beats by Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, romance, melodrama, along with an insurmountable array of fabulous dance acts and talent. Thankfully, the performances complement the story, with emotional, dramatic, romantic routines intensifying a relevant moment in the story.

The Merchants of Bollywood is showing at The Peacock Theatre from 24th May – 11th June 2016
Click here for more info and tickets 

Fariha Sabir

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