I have held off saying anything evil about the Broadway musical Bombay Dreams, but that self-inflicted gag order ends now.
I have been biting my tongue for a week and a half. That has to do with the small fact that my wife forked over $148 for two discounted tickets; a pretty penny in these lean economic times.
Having succumbed to part folly, part pride, and perhaps equal parts guilt and curiosity, how could I come out of the theatre bemoaning an insipid plot line, smarmy lyrics and trite comedy? No, I had to put on a brave front, nod courteously to my neighbors in the same row who readily guffawed about how “great” it was and quietly slip out onto the curb of reality.
Is this the best that Andrew Lloyd Webber, Shekar Kapoor and A.R. Rahman could cook up? The musical touts itself as the “Feel Good Fantasy.” Neither did it feel good, nor was it a fantasy. Perhaps I am from that generation that could never sit still through a three hour Bollywood flick. The musical was nothing but a sophomoric attempt to deliver unconvincing lines in a setting injected with limp humor about sexual identies, class, caste and other with social inequities.
My advice to those of you usurped by the hype about this musical – save your cash! Buy your mother something nice instead. This was a waste of my time (and did I mention again, money) and so shall it be yours as well should you be tempted to check it out. However, as my wife exclaimed, in the musical’s favor and providing it’s only saving grace, the constumes and set designs were good.
Some may counter that this musical has opened up Western audiences to Indian culture. Pshaw! That’s straight up ‘buckwaaz yaar.’ I do know that you don’t introduce cultures by subjecting a captured audience to some schmaltzy song-and-dance routine.
Some may even go the distance and suggest that a successful run in the US and UK will mean more such extravaganzas. I shudder when I think of such possibilities. Bollywood cranks out enough of these melodramas. So, why suffer through three popcorn-less hours of so-called entertainment on stiff over-priced seats in NY city when one could get a great big dose of masala in the relative comforts of one’s own home?