Miller Outdoor Sizzles with Bollywood Masala
A Report By Ruchi Mukherjee
It has now become a Labor Day ritual for Houston’s desi community to celebrate the long weekend with some Bollywood fun. Approximately 8,000 people from a diverse cross section of Houston gathered for a successful sixth Bollywood Blast ‘Once upon A time – dreams come true’ musical extravaganza on Sunday September 4, 2011 at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park.
This two hour long musical was the result of the strenuous labor of Bollywood dancer/choreographer/teacher Mahesh Mahbubani. Bollywood Blast plays a major role in mainstream awareness of Bollywood dance in Houston, and Mahesh Mahbubani plays a vital role as the pioneer behind bollywood dance style in Houston, Texas.
Set against the backdrop of popular Bollywood songs, ‘One upon a time’ started off with Dr. Bhuchur (as the father) narrating a bedtime story to his young daughter. “The theme this year is inspired by fairy tales, Cinderella, Beauty and the geek, Red Riding Hood and Weeping Beauty, with plenty of Bollywood masala,” explains Mahesh.
The idea was to cater to an international audience and this was Mahesh’s fourth year in directing Bollywood Blast, and thanks to Oscar winner A R Rahman of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ that brought Bollywood into mainstream focus.
Bollywood dance is quite popular in mainstream Houston through Mahesh’s regular workshops at Rice university, Houston Community College, Museum of Fine Arts, Young Audiences of Houston and local schools.
He has also taught at the Texas dance educators program where he introduced Bollywood fusion dance style, a unique style created by Mahesh.
“I feel Bollywood dance is fun, has a mass appeal and is easily identified by the masses for its simplicity of dance movement,” says Mahbubani. Singing and dancing is a very important part of Indian culture. It is narrative and serves as a means to express human emotions.
The show was all about celebrating life and a vibrant display of Indian culture via the colorful costumes that were all custom designed from Mumbai, India. There was also a lot of use of ballet costumes as the effort was to combine the east with west in order to draw parallels to the script this year that had a huge influence from fairy tales.
This year was the sixth successful year and was a culmination of ten weeks of rehearsals and four months worth of planning. The dancers were all students of Mahesh’s Bollywood Dance School and have been training with him for the past three years. The musical consisted of a dedicated team of 60 dancers ranging from as young as five to fifty years old. Mahesh has brought professional quality to the show while also encouraging students from our community. “Everyone has a star within and I help them rediscover that star and let them shine through dance,” says Mahbubani who is a product of Bombay the land of Bollywood.
Photos by Roswitha Vogler [photosbyrovo.com]
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