By Nita Balani
BRAMPTON: The audiences from the Greater Toronto Area had a treat for them at the Rose Theatre in Brampton on Nov 29 as they were taken on a tour like never before!
Amit Shah’s beautifully choreographed Mystic India took them through a kaleidoscopic tour of not only colour and beauty but also of rhythm, dance and music. For many patrons, this was truly their first introduction to the mysterious world of India and they were spellbound.
This production from New Jersey was amazing and did not fail to please. As director Amit Shah said, “If you have ever wanted to visit India, Mystic India is your direct flight there!”
As with most traditional dance performances in India, the show opened with a prayer to Lord Ganesha – the destroyer of evil and all obstacles. This was a quiet devotional and beautiful moment on stage which gave way to a burst of colour with the section on Holi – a festival of India which celebrates colour.
The songs and dances were carefully selected to echo the rainbow of colours – the audience was treated to a whirlwind of colourful rhythmic and energetic dancers flooding the stage! The colours of Holi gave way to bring on one of the most well loved Gods of India, Lord Krishna and his playful pranks with his one love Radha. Together Radha and Krishna embody eternal love.
The choreographers, Amit and Kruti Shah, skillfully brought this concept to the stage through traditional dance moves in Kathak and Bharatnatyam. Of course no Indian musical and dance production would be complete without adding the majestic grandeur of India’s famed royalty.
Amit Shah added a touch of this splendour through a segment devoted to one of the greatest Mughal kings in Indian history, King Akbar. His renowned love for a Hindu noblewoman, Jodha, is a story every child grows up with. It is often quoted as a love that brought the Hindus and the Muslims closer together during his reign as it showed him as a religiously tolerant ruler.
The costumes and music also ushered in a long forgotten royal and regal era to the stage in its all its glory and splendour. The songs chosen for this were from the famous Bollywood movie “Jodha Akbar”.
The royal scenes gave way to bring in a tribute to 100 years of Indian Cinema – Bollywood as it has been dubbed. The music and rhythms of older classical Bollywood songs and dances brought nostalgic moments to many in the audience who grew up with those movies and their songs. It celebrated love and romance through songs like “ Jiya Jale”, “Kehna Hi Kya”, “Tumse Milke” and the more energetic numbers like “Choli Ke Peeche” and “Rang de Basanti”.
In a very short span of time on stage, through very carefully selected songs and dances, Amit was able to portray a snapshot of how Bollywood music and rhythms had evolved over the years. Bollywood has evolved to embrace an innovative fusion of styles such as Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Indian folk dances with contemporary jazz, hip hop and salsa, all done with remarkable flair.
The classical dances have given way to include the very popular dance moves of the “item numbers” which is the term given to the catchy songs performed with very sexy and suggestive dance moves in Bollywood. It has become a staple feature in almost every Bollywood movie today.
Amit’s production had plenty of these very eye catching numbers to hook the audience – from “Sheila ki Jawaani” to “Chammak Challo “( the original co-composed and performed by Akon) from the Shahrukh Khan blockbuster Ra. One movie in 2011 to “Munni Badnaam Hui” – this production was bursting at the seams!
India is a country full of surprises and juxtapositions of the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, the classical and the avant garde. The magical Mystic India tour was a reflection of this spirit where East meets West with great aplomb be it in dance, music, costumes or rhythms.
The dancers in the troupe were from various cultural backgrounds not just from India. It was truly beautiful to see how they performed a variety of dances from every corner of India in perfect harmony. From the energetic Bhangra beats of the North to the intricate Kathak footwork and to the more seductive modern moves from the world of Bollywood – Mystic India had it all.
This production was more than just a song and dance – it had heart and soul of India in it and was a masterpiece in creativity. We wish the troupe all the success as they travel all over Europe to as far as the Middle East, South Africa and China spreading the mystic message of the essence and spirit of India.
ALSO BY NITA BALANI: Brampton’s magical evening with Jesse Cook