So here it is – my very first (and one of two) article in the popular Friday Magazine dated 16 December 2016 and my review of the musical Jaan-e-Jigar.
Bollywood is the belief that truth shall prevail. Bollywood is the outlet during stressful times. Bollywood is that friend who adds colour to otherwise grey days. Bollywood is the inspiration behind many holidays, events and celebrations.
Theatre, however, brings the magic of storytelling to life with absolutely no room for error. What happens when you put the two together is Jaan-e-Jigar – an original musical that launched in Dubai yesterday (the show previewed to the media on December 9).
Conceptualised and produced by Wizcraft International Entertainment, the organisers of the annual Iifa awards, it is a first-of-its-kind Bollywood show, created for the new Rajmahal Theatre located in the Bollywood Parks Dubai theme park. The theatre, which seats just over 850 people, has a minimalist decor that belies the two-hour show the audience is about to experience.
Jaan-e-Jigar is a tale of two brothers, Jaanbaaz and Jigar Shiraz, born to the benevolent King of Ishqabad. Circumstances separate them at birth and fate brings them back together to avenge their father’s death and bring the lost glory back to their kingdom. Ten minutes into the experience, I was hooked. The sets, the costumes, the music, the characters… it all drew me in. It is a modern-day take on an era when magic existed, evil wanted to rule and good emerges the ultimate victor.
I say modern-day because as I mentioned to the scriptwriter Kausar Munir, I was taken aback by the usage of English in dialogues that would usually be delivered in a more traditional form of Hindi. She said that they could do it because it is fantasy; I think they could do it because it’s Bollywood.
I won’t be giving much away; it wouldn’t be fair to the three years of labour of 200 people. But like Wizcraft founder Viraf Sarkari said at the opening gala, ‘it is Bollywood on stage’.
Every imaginable Bollywood cliché is used. Kausar says Jaan-e-Jigar is ‘Manmohan Desai meets The Matrix’ (legendary film-maker Desai was known for numerous potboilers). That is true – I often caught myself singing along, identifying the dialogues and placing them in the films I had heard them in. It has the fantasy element that you’d expect from Bollywood, it has the magic that Bollywood never fails to deliver and it ends with the hope that true love wins all.
The real stars of the evening are the music, choreography and costumes. The original score by Pritam is memorable, and the evergreen Shiamak Davar lights up the stage yet again with his flawless choreography. Costume designer Neeta Lulla made pieces that are colourful yet versatile, never losing the Bollywood feel. Neeta says it is very different working on a film – there is no room for error, no retakes, no fixes on stage. As a viewer, I saw no flaws. She had most fun with the character of Marjani, Neeta says.
The actors own the stage. Auditions were held all over India and in Dubai and it is very impressive to see the talent that India has produced. The show’s best character is the antagonist, Marjani, performed by Tanvi Ravi, an actress with a strong voice and stage presence. Completely unapologetic about her hunger for power, Marjani exhibits common human emotions when faced with rejection and takes sibling rivalry to a dangerous level. Though portrayed in the extremes (it is Bollywood) I think that the shades of grey in her were relatable. Jaan (short for Jaanbaaz) was a sight for sore eyes (on this night, the role was performed by Rajat Kaul).
A new avenue has opened up for actors and it’s with pride that it had to be Dubai that gave them a platform. There is a future for musicals in the Indian entertainment scene, with Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor, in the audience on Friday, saying that he’s inspired enough to act in a musical himself some day before he ‘hangs up his boots’ – and could not think of a better place than Dubai for his theatre debut.
If you love Bollywood and musical theatre, or are looking for something different to do over the weekend, go to Jaan-e-Jigar. If you feel current films are not suited for children but still want to expose them to Bollywood, go. You won’t be disappointed. Jaan-e-Jigar has everything you seek in Bollywood – action, emotion, romance, suspense, music, colour, celebration and drama.
Tickets start at Dh95 with one show planned every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening. Start timing varies between 8 and 9 pm; tickets can be booked at http://www.bollywoodparksdubai.com.