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BOMBAY CRUSH (article first published : 2005-12-16)

The idea behind Bombay Crush, currently running at the iZulu Theatre at Sibaya Casino, is to create a piece of musical theatre to appeal to the legion of Bollywood movie fans. Only in the last few years have the mainstream cinemas accepted that Bollywood films have a following here, and now Anant Singh’s Videovision Entertainment have decided to go one step further and bring the tradition onto the live stage with all the glitz, glamorous costumes, singing and dancing that goes with it.

It is not always easy to cross the divide between theatre and film – in either direction - but Bombay Crush offers an interesting new development for the local stage.

The story is designed with KZN audiences in mind. Muslim Salman and Hindu Rajesh are friends in their home village in India. Rajesh has fallen in love with a Muslim girl, and his father plans to send him off to relatives in Durban to get him out of harm’s way. Trouble is, Rajesh has already secretly married the girl, so father’s plan is particularly inopportune.

Rajesh comes up with the scheme of persuading his friend to go off to South Africa in his place, and pretend that he is in fact Rajesh. After all, the Durban-based Singhs have never seen the real Rajesh.

And so Salman/Rajesh arrives in Durban and, carefully remembering to be Hindu, charms the Singh family, with the exception of Minal, their trendy university student daughter, who is not at all happy at being expected to shepherd a rural hick around. Of course, their feelings for each other change, much to the irritation of Pravesh who had fancied himself as Minal’s favoured suitor.

Eventually Pravesh finds out who Salman really is and, after a fight, shops him to the immigration authorities. However, this being Bollywood-style entertainment, you can confidently expect a happy ending. It duly comes.

The plot, of course, is slight and straightforward, so much so that it could perhaps be compressed a bit into something a bit less than the almost two hours it takes to unfold. It is played out on Tim Dunn’s excellent set, working on two levels and using movie-style projected backdrops. There are views of KZN – though admittedly not much of Durban apart from Howard College - and plenty of colour, clever lighting effects and gorgeous costumes. The performances, particularly from the two leads – Indian import Gaurav Chopra and local Kajal Bagwandeen, along with Vaibhav Joshi – are fine although there is little character development.

However, there are one or two problems with the production. On opening night, Bombay Crush seemed a little under-rehearsed. The dancing, choreographed by the usually excellent Jay Pather, was ragged in places, and the sound was truly dreadful – harsh and tinny and plagued with unexpected surges and squeals. These are areas that need urgent attention from director Junaid Ahmed, Pather and the sound engineers if the show is going to offer fans of the genre the kind of glitzy, slick entertainment they want. – Margaret von Klemperer

”Bombay Crush” runs at the iZulu Theatre until January 15. Tickets R95 and booking is at Computicket or the Sibaya box office on 031 580 5555.




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