Review by Manju Sampat
“Balle Balle” a spectacular musical about a “big fat Indian wedding”, has been showing at Rang Mandir, off Bandra’s Linking Road, since November 10th. It is currently slated to run till the end of the month. Hopefully it will be extended for many months to come, as it is a fantastic show! This stunning musical has been produced by Wizcraft International Entertainment and directed by one of their co-founders, Viraf Sarkari, who has also written the story. Well known theatre personality Hidayat Sami, is the Drama director. Earlier, Wizcraft had also given us grand theatrical productions like Zangoora, Jhumroo, and Jaan-e-Jigar.
Even as the audience enters the foyer of the hall, they are treated to some exciting Punjabi wedding songs like”Latthe di Chaddar”, and some of the cast members, resplendent in their traditional wedding party attire, greet them. The mood is already set, for the “full on” fun that is in store for the audience!
“Balle Balle” dazzles the viewer in every way, visual, aural and sensual. The set design is absolutely brilliant, as Anirban’s Graphics and Becket’s Lighting designs are truly dazzling. From a beautiful night sky, complete with twinkling stars, to a moving truck through tree laden roads, to a plush living room and then a colourfully lit garden for the Sangeet scene, these two artists have captured it all stunningly. I especially liked a particular scene where half the stage has a beach scene in Goa, and the other half is the protagonist Swag’s studio in Canada. The costumes designed by Malvika Bajaj and Suvarna Dey, are rich and colourful and certainly a visual treat! Punit Phatak’s choreography is most creative, especially in a dance number where the dancers dance like swans, with appropriate costumes and props. His choreography for some of the foot tapping music is most energetic and all the dancers do full justice to this. Nikhil Koparde’s music selection is beautifully synchronised and contextually perfect for the occasion that the songs are used for. Most of the songs are familiar Bollywood songs, and that adds to the enjoyment. However, fun songs like “Doctor I’m in trouble”, originally sung by Peter Sellers and Sophie Loren, have also been used. Incidentally all the songs one heard have been sung live by the actors and the singing was uniformly good.
“Balle Balle”, is not just a song and dance routine. There is a sweet story, a comedy of errors, that enhances the enjoyment of of this show. Swagat, or Swag (Hriday), as he is called by his friends, is a pop singer in Canada, where he lives. He decides to visit India, the land of his birth. His mother, aunt Honey and his Nani have been busy trying to find an Indian wife for him. Swag agrees to the arranged match, as all his Canadian girl friends seem to have two timed him! The family has chosen Nisha (Garima) for him, but once he reaches Patiala, the bride’s hometown, he meets and falls in love with her sister Isha (Kamakshi). Nisha on the other hand, is in love with Nikhil (Hitesh), who is to plan her wedding with Swag. What follows is a zany ride through various twists and turns where ultimately “all’s well that ends well”! And while on this ride the audience meets Dilawar Singh, Isha and Nisha’s strict Father, Joe (Abhinav), Swag’s gay manager, Ronak (Gaurav), who is Nikhil’s assistant. But after the two couples manage to overcome the family pressures of honour, and the chaos settles down, the wedding party begins. And what a party it is! Full of “Punjabi Shaan”. The groom actually comes on a “Ghodi”, and there is much song and dancing on and off stage! In fact this was one of the most delightful aspects of this show, when the actors mingle with audience and dance with them!
Tickets can be got from insider.in or at the venue. Do make sure you see this brilliant magnum opus for its sheer unadulterated fun!