The musical production of Mughal-E-Azam is making waves with the NRI audience in the USA and boasts of the best of talent in all aspects, adds director of show.
Mughal-E-Azam: The Musical' is "a rare piece of work" that boasts of the best of the talent in all different departments, theatre director Feroz Abbas Khan said Saturday as the grand staging of this timeless epic drew a houseful crowd in the third city of its ongoing US tour. The musical, based on K Asif's 1960 iconic film, has held more than 200 shows across six countries, including the UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, and Qatar since its premiere in October 2016.
Moving with seven 53-feet containers and a crew of over 50, the production started its American leg on May 26 from Atlanta, followed by a performance at the prestigious Lincoln Center in New York. "We have finally created a kind of product that India and Indians can be very proud of... When it comes to something like this, which is an ensemble piece, this is perhaps a rare piece of work that's got the best of the talent in all the different departments," director Feroz Abbas Khan shared after he and the entire team of the stage production received a standing ovation at the historic Lyric Performing Arts Center, a music venue in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.
After a houseful reception in the three US stops, promoters of 'Mughal-E-Azam: The Musical' expect the same over the next three months. Khan said the response is overwhelming. "We never expected this kind of a response. We know that this play is something that has a very special place in the heart of the audience because of the original film. But the way they're responding to the play, it is simply outstanding. "I'm quite speechless with what's been happening here in the United States and particularly the show today. I believe that India has so much to offer. But yes, we have been presenting our work in a certain way because that's our Indian tradition," the director said. Playback singer and actor Priyanka Barve, who plays the role of Anarkali in the musical play, said the Indian-American audience has been "really kind". "They are so far away from the country, so I think they value our culture even more than us. Because we live in India, we don't value our culture so much. Here people are so enthusiastic. They want to see the craft coming from India and want to feel proud about their country. People are enthusiastic to see this kind of Broadway," Barve said.
Besides the entertainment factor, producer of the musical Deepesh Salgia said most audience members are taking pride in Indian artists' ability to execute such a grand vision. "That brings us the biggest joy. After pride, people are now feeling that this is actually a soft power of India as it shows the cultural aspect of the country. I'm very glad that this show achieved that. And that's all because of the audience's support. "The biggest pleasure was... when I saw three generations of Indians watching this show together. When they enjoy together and one generation explains to the younger generation, this is what India is about," Salgia said.
The overall budget of the entire North America leg of the trip is over USD 10 million, said Houston-based executive producer Dushyant Kansara. "People over here are used to doing and watching concerts and the regular Bollywood shows. But they never had an experience like this before. That's the reason why people are so amazed... So many people told us that we cannot travel all the way to India, even though we wanted to watch this show," Kansara said about 'Mughal-E-Azam: The Musical'.
Anand Dawda, who has been organising Bollywood concerts in the US for about 20 years now, said bringing 'India's Broadway' to the country has been a challenge. "Every city we see.. Friday grows into Saturday, Saturday grows more into Sunday. And then, people want us to stay here for one more week (and) come back after the tour. But technically it's very challenging for us to extend the tour over here, at least this season. We will be back very soon," he said.
Noting that the basic purpose was to promote Indian art and culture overseas, Salgia said the audience has now taken over the show. "Now the larger purpose is to show this not just to Indians, but to larger audiences across the world," he said. After the maiden American trip, the promoters have plans to take 'Mughal-E-Azam: The Musical' to Europe.