Get ready to laugh!
Thursday, December 16th, 2010 | by Anu Venugopal
BOLLYWOOD fans had reveled in the spicy treat dished out by Sohalia Kapur and friends at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) recently.
Performed the bonafide cast from the land of laddus and Shah Rukh Khan, the energetic actors gave the audience a whole lot of masala and laughs from start to finish in the musical Mahim Junction.
Written and directed by Kapur, the story is set in a local train platform in suburban Mumbai. Rahim (Rachit Bahal), is a local dada (big brother-leader), a good guy with a heart of gold who is in love with Radha (Jyotsna Sharma), the beauty who has many men vying for her attention and affections.
Coming from different faiths, they fear their respective families will not accept their love as they meet secretly and profess their undying love for one another. Their fears are not unrealistic, as Radha's ruthless mother Bai (Kaveri Ganguly), would rather sell her daughter to the highest bidder than help her marry the man she loves.
Luckily, Radha's physically-challenged brother Ramu (Shivam Pradhan) is ready to sacrifice anything for his sister and hopes for her happiness with Rahim.
Together with a host of other charismatic slum dwellers, the star-crossed lovers have to get themselves into sticky situations - whether landing in jail or being cajoled into being the new face of film by an unscrupulous producer, as one would expect in Hindi films.
The difference in Mahim Junction and other typical Bollywood films that it is a production that combines story, cinema and nostalgia with singing and dancing snapshots of Bollywood films in the 1970's.
Entertaining right from the start, the show started even before the actors stepped up on stage, with Flower Girl (Shifali Kumar) and Paan Wallah or vendor (Sandeep Bhardwaj) offering unsuspecting theatre goers a chance to buy their wares outside the doors of Pentas 2.
Performed in English with bits of Hindi thrown in, it combines a love story with a political slant - resulting in a captivating plot. Intercepted by snippets of old Hindi hits from the golden era, the historically-themed performance got the audience attention throughout the two-hour show.
The beauty of Kapur's updated version of Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan, which was first performed in 2008, lies in the rich, deep and likeable characters of Mumbai's slums. Not only do Bahal and Sharma play the part of lovers with finesse, the supporting actors too shine in their efforts to create a likeable, Bollywood production.
Film producer DDLJ (Neeraj Yaadav) was oozing deviousness in every scene so easily, it was not difficult to believe that he was the heroine's adversary. His fondness for speaking English with a Punjabi accent was pure entertainment while the cross dressing eunuch Aisha (Aviekal Kakkar) brought down the house with her infectious sense of humour and mannerisms.
Wannabe politician, terrorist and slum dweller Randy (Ssumier S. Pasricha) played his three parts credibly, so too drunkard Johnny (Anand Roopak Kathpalia) and tea-stall owner Ramu (Shivam Pradhan).
Although it was not the traditional musical where performers burst into song and dance throughout the show, Mahim Junction captured the hearts of classic Bollywood fans with its old songs, entertaining dialogue and energy from the entire cast.