BACKBEAT: POSSIBILITY OF AN INDIAN BROADWAY

Suprit Karkera, Business Head, Intellectual Properties & Events, Dome Entertainment (Cineyug Enterprise) discusses the possibilities and challenges involved in replicating the Broadway performance style in India

06 Aug, 2018 by SUPRIT KARKERA

Broadway in New York, and by extension, the West End in London, are the pinnacle of Western civilization’s cultural erudition. They represent decades of evolution in the disciplines of acting, music, dance, lighting, scripting and showmanship. To call them ‘plays’ would be uncouth, and the equivalent of calling the Brandenburg Gate a doorway, for they are more than just mere theatrics, they are a form of performance art. They bring together the most talented entertainers across a plethora of disciplines, to create what can only be described as an experience that transcends the limitations of the human form, to approach the realm of the ethereal.

The interesting thing about Broadway, as opposed to more traditional art forms like ballet or the opera, is its universal acceptability. It appeals to classes and masses alike, not to mention the millions of tourists to New York and London, who pay it homage each year. Even people who may have never heard of Broadway or the West End are well aware of some of their signature performances like the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, My Fair Lady, Oliver!, and The Wizard of Oz, all of which were turned into critically acclaimed Hollywood blockbusters, that defined their respective generations.

Saying that Broadway is popular is not a particularly surprising statement, but how would performances of its scale and calibre fare in India? Would Broadway plays be successful here, and more importantly, would our country ever be able to host, house and eventually create performances of such an impeccable calibre and with such demanding production value? After more than a decade in the industry, I would have to say yes, but it will be very difficult.

Bollywood to Broadway: Bollywood, and its regional ilk have produced some exceptionally talented composers, musicians, writers, and actors. Indian movies are internationally renowned for their cheerful tunes, beautifully choreographed dances, stunning sets and over-the-top costumes, meaning as a nation we have the artistic skills required to conceive and execute performances on a grand scale. What’s even more important is the fact that there is a mass audience appeal for such movies and a proud film-making legacy that goes back generations. Broadway shows, in many ways, are structured very similar to mainstream Bollywood movies, meaning India as a nation already has a 100year history to fall back on.

Exciting possibilities: Technical expertise aside, Broadway plays also require state of the art infrastructure like lighting, sound equipment, proper acoustics, massive seating arrangements and elaborate sets. Most of our country’s infrastructure simply cannot house productions of such a scale. However, in recent years, all that has changed. The success of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ‘Zangoora the Gypsy Prince’ at Kingdom of Dreams have shown us that there are a few venues around the country that can rise to the occasion if need be, and do it flawlessly. India’s very own version of Broadway, that is every bit as extravagant and charming as the original may still be a dream, but it is definitely achievable. All we need is someone with the courage to take the first step, and everything will fall into place; all parties will get a substantial return on investment, great Indian entertainers will receive a unique opportunity to showcase and develop their talents, and Indian audiences will be treated to visual masterpieces they have never seen before.

Feedback: suprit.karkera@domeindia.com Category: Backbeat Volume No: 15 Issue No: 9

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