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articles: rediff news - three men and Bombay Dreams


It's not every day that legends like Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber drop in to say 'hello' to Indian mediapersons. After all, his name is synonymous with some of the most successful musical productions of all times. It's even rarer that a composer-producer of his stature has decided to make India -- Bollywood, to be more precise -- the theme of his next production.

But then all this wouldn't have happened if he hadn't met our own Shekhar Kapur about 18 months back. Or, if he hadn't heard A R Rahman's score for Mani Ratnam's Dil Se. So impressed was he with Chaiyya chaiyya -- the song, the choreography, the visualisation -- that Sir Webber asked Kapur to introduce him to Rahman.

These three extremely talented people decided to come together. The result: Bombay Dreams, a musical in the wings. Its script is yet to be finalised, its search for the cast yet to be launched -- but there's no doubting the fact that the combination promises to be worth looking out for. Incidentally, Rahman is the first composer to be invited by Webber to work in a musical. Bombay Dreams will have Webber as the producer and Kapur as the collaborator.

Such was the setting for the press conference held in Bombay on March 7. The initially bare room was choc-a-bloc with reporters and lensmen by the time the threesome made an appearance. They made quite a picture: Webber, formal in a blue shirt and light suit, Kapur was casual in pair of black Versace jeans and a blazer while Rahman donned an Indian silk jacket with his jeans.

Right from the beginning, the suave and charming Kapur took charge. He introduced his two friends, heaping accolades on both and talking about his own future plans which include the filming of Phantom Of The Opera. Antonio Banderas is to be the male lead in the film while the hunt is on for "a stunning looking girl," we were told.

And of course, he spoke about Webber's achievements -- that his Phantom has grossed over $3 million worldwide (which is more than the earnings of Titanic), that some of his productions have been running at various places for years -- and also about his fascination with Indian films and music (Talvin Singh is another Indian musician Webber simply adores).

The limelight then shifted to Lloyd who spoke at length about Rahman and his breathtaking brand of music. He is here to get a taste and feel of Bombay, he said, which he can then present to the world in all its glory and totality. Webber plans to cram in as many sights and sounds possible, in his rushed stay in the city. His itinerary also includes checking out the Indian versions of Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar! Webber already got a taste of what's hot in Bollywood when he went with Kapur to see the superhit, Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai.

According to Webber, the world is ready to view and perceive Indian culture. Bombay Dreams is essentially going to be about Bollywood and the way it works. Both Kapur and Webber assured that justice will be done to the subject and that it will not be reduced to a mockery of the Indian film industry. Also, Kapur is trying to persuade Webber to premier it the musical in Bombay, costs permitting.

Though it's in a preliminary stage right now ("since it's about Bollywood, we wanted to announce it in Bombay," explained Kapur), Webber did talk about Bombay Dreams. It will have a very strong male protagonist and a worldwide audition for the perfect cast will soon be underway. Unfortunately, Shah Rukh Khan, who danced to Chaiyya chaiyya is just one of the superstars who will be overlooked because it has to be "someone who can sing well on stage."

Then it was the turn of the reticent Rahman -- the man who catapults into the international arena with Bombay Dreams -- to say a few words. The shy composer, who prefers to let his music speak for him, was sitting quietly all this while, his face breaking into a slightly-embarrassed smile every time Kapur and Webber applauded his genius. But he did speak. He said he had completed all his commitments in India so that he could work on this musical in the next six months to come. When asked if he was shifting base, he said he would shuttle between Bombay, Madras and London to complete his various engagements.

The press conference came to an end with the three men promising they will be back soon. For now, they intend to work hard, till Bombay Dreams becomes a reality.

by Aparajita Saha - photographs by Jewella C Miranda

source: rediff news






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