Indian Broadway comes alive with colourful ‘Zangoora’ and Hussain

By Radhika Bhirani, IANS
Monday, September 20, 2010

GURGAON - This musical has everything that Bollywood stands for. Romance, emotion, drama, magic, action, dance and dollops of colour - “Zangoora - The Gypsy Prince” takes you into a world where the glitz and glamour of Hindi film industry comes alive through a well-woven story complete with the jhatkas-matkas. And Hussain Kuwajerwala’s performance is to die for.

Be it the ornate venue - the 840-seater Nautanki Mahal at the recently constructed Kingdom of Dreams, the aesthetic and tasteful sets, grand props or the flawless dramatisation, smooth aerial acts and livewire dance performances - the musical stands to change the face of live entertainment in India.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Shaktishila, Zangoora is a tale about a boy who grows up to be a gypsy dancer, unaware of his real identity of a prince.

His journey from living in the jungles amid a gypsy troupe, falling in love with a supposed princess and finally winning back his throne, has been depicted in the musical. It was produced by the Great Indian Nautanki Company - a joint venture between Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt Ltd and Apra Group.

Starring Hussain Kuwajerwala, Gauhar Khan, Kahmira Irani and Sadanand Patil, the musical boasts of names like Javed Akhtar (story writer), Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (music directors), Neeta Lulla (costume designer), Shiamak Davar (choreography) and Omung Kumar (art direction), among others.

Hussain, and the two leading ladies get more than ample chance to prove their dancing mettle with remixed hit Bollywood numbers like “Mehbooba mehbooba”, “Bawre bawre”, “Tumse milke dil ka”, “Pehla nasha”, “Chura liya”, “Khuda Jaane”, “Choli ke peechhe”, “Beedi” and the likes, thrown in almost every 10-15 minutes.

The music, unlike in Broadway shows, is not live. But what is remarkable is the uniform energy and zest in the actors, who deliver dialogues without gasping for air even after power-packed dance sequences on the stage or in the air. And the dialogues are indeed live.

Hussain’s work as Zangoora is par excellence and, at moments, it is tough to take your eyes off him even in the presence of 50 other artistes on the stage. He also has a ‘Shah Rukh Khan moment’ in the musical when he throws open his shirt to reveal a perfect six-pack.

But it is his dance moves, acting and stage presence which leaves the audience asking for more, with many wondering if the initial choice for the role - Vivek Oberoi - would have been as good.

Gauhar, with her washboard stomach and graceful dancing, made for the perfect gypsy dancer. But one does end up feeling that trained acrobat, actress Isha Sharvani, who was earlier cast in the play, would have done better justice to the aerial acts, now being performed by Kashmira Irani.

The story is of course as predictable as it can get in Bollywood - but it’s worth the experience. Yes, there is a slight lack of action sequences, which could have made the climax more dramatic, but forgiven for the grandeur that the show has to offer.

The venue is equally grand, plus they offer free drinks and snacks before, after and during the 20-minute interval in between the two-hour musical. The cheapest ticket costs Rs.1,000, and if you would like your experience to be royal, be ready to shell out Rs.6,000 for the best seats in the hall as well as some pampering during the show.

“Zangoora - The Gypsy Prince”, in the making for over a year, will open its doors to the public Tuesday. Whether you like the show or not - one thing is well-assured - you’ll definitely be hooked onto the title track ‘Zangoora zangoora…’ played only at the end of the show, with the cast dancing to it in jubilation.

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