Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Reviews of Bombay Dreams are in....

And they don't seem to be too good. But, at the same time, the reviews in the British press were not all that flattering when it opened in the UK, and the show still ended up being a financial success. Below you will find some of the harsh snippets from each of the articles-so make sure to read the entire article. It seems some critics were quite pleased with the acting ability of Ayesha Dharker, who is amongst the most experienced of the cast--and also a holdover from the UK production, as well as with the set and costumes. On the other hand, the critics consistently were upset with the book, particularly the predictability of it, but that is Bollywood. Despite all this it is important to note that often critics see these things in a very different light than most of the audience will see the show in, and I am still going to see and support the show. Desis are still representing on BROADWAY! Click here to purchase tickets for the show, or at least to see when tickets may be available.

Here are links to some of the reviews.
CNN (The only positive pseudo-review that I have read): If a musical is a smash in London's West End, you have to make it even bigger and better for Broadway. Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to have adopted that mantra for his latest musical export "Bombay Dreams."Despite bad reviews, the song and dance show set in India's version of Hollywood (dubbed Bollywood) did big business in Britain during its two-year run. The show's producers are spending $14 million to ensure "Bombay's" success crosses the Atlantic."

The New York Times: "Advertisements for the show may tout it as a voyage to "somewhere you've never been before." But even theatergoers who have never seen a sari or eaten papadum are likely to find "Bombay Dreams" as familiar as this morning's breakfast. It takes more than color, evidently, to be colorful."

USA Today: "How do you say "mind-numbing bunk" in Hindi? I couldn't tell you, but after attending a certain preview performance last weekend, I'd like to propose a new English-language synonym: Bombay Dreams (* out of four). Here, the lure also involves a readily exploitable trend. "Bollywood," the Indian film industry, fascinates many Westerners, among them that British composer of generic-sounding tunes, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lloyd Webber is only Dreams' producer, but he has a fellow spirit in A.R. Rahman, whose music, a syrupy stew of faintly spiced pop clich├ęs, suggests the equivalent of a Big Mac sprinkled with curry powder." Aggh! I hate the food metaphors--I think that is poor writing which shows lack of creativity.

The Associated Press: The problem is "Bombay Dreams" can't decide whether it wants to spoof or celebrate those over-the-top, hokey and often downright silly musicals that are the backbone of Bollywood, the Indian film industry. It ends up doing a little of both, creating an uncertainty of tone that leaves the story muddled, the actors over-emoting and the evening lurching from one big, athletic dance number to another. Director Steven Pimlott tries his best to keep everything from unraveling.

The Financial Times: It could have been worse, I suppose. As the Bollywood-by-way-of-London musical Bombay Dreams swirled colourfully before me, I thought: it could be Mamma Mia . Unlike the cheap-looking Abba-fest, which keeps packing them in down the road, Bombay Dreams wears its $14m budget resplendently on its sari. And at least the score by A.R. Rahman sounds as if it was written after 1979, even if some of it - the signature tune, "Shakalaka Baby", for example - resembles second-hand Britney Spears, and not just because it is lip-synched. Even though the musical now feels less pastiche-heavy and more sincerely romantic in tone, the overall effect is still synthetic and the genuinely moving moments sparse. The American cast is gung-ho in an infectious, slightly wearing way.

And finally a nice piece and fact sheet on Bombay Dreams, from


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