It’s not often a Broadway show hits Malaysian shores, so when it was revealed that the internationally-acclaimed Mystic India would be arriving in KL this month, it was big news indeed.
Billed as a journey through the ages of India, the spectacle of light and sound will bring the larger-than-life flavours of Bollywood into the nation’s premiere theatre, the Istana Budaya, for a whole week. There, the highly-trained dancers of the New Jersey-based AATMA Performing Arts Company will take centre stage as they twist and twirl their way through the 100-minute show in perfect unison.
To date, the show has toured across four continents, selling out venues and garnering rave reviews wherever it lands. Now, for the first time it comes to Southeast Asia, with KL as the first date on its whirlwind tour.
Back To The Roots
Mystic India is the brainchild of Amit Shah, an Indian born and bred in New Jersey who at the age of 23 founded the award-winning AATMA Performing Arts Company with the goal to bridge the gap between traditional Indian and modern Western forms of dance.
The first US-based Indian dance company to receive critical international acclaim, AATMA prides itself on being preservers of Indian culture while constantly aiming to evolve the art of dance through a fusion of Eastern and Western elements.
Mystic India, which Shah created in 2011, is a clear reflection of this mission, realised through the concept of ancient India’s transition into modern India, from rural roots to Bollywood cinema and beyond.
“Malaysia has not experienced a live Bollywood performance for a decade, and I believe Mystic India is perfect for local fans, bringing just the right combination of nostalgia, fantasy and entertainment,” says Gavin Singh, CEO of event organiser Eeman Corporation.
Guided by a narrator, audiences will be whisked away to earliest India in the first half of the 100-minute show, where mythological tales rooted in the subcontinent tell of kings, gods and earth-moving events. Up to 30 superbly pitched dancers from AATMA bring to life the legends, traveling all over India to places like Gujurat, Maharastra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu, while they do so.
The choreography picks up pace in the second half of the show as the ancient gives way to the modern, and the calm precision of classic forms like Bharat and Kathak merge with street styles like hip hop and breakdancing. The evolution of dance is mirrored in the music as well; tabla rhythms and bamboo flutes fuse with disco and pop tunes for energy-charged routines that will leave you breathless.
Ode To Bollywood
It took a team of 40 designers a staggering four years to create the entire wardrobe for the show, which after the curtain draws, will see dancers changing costumes 700 times. The vibrant outfits range from sequined veils and ballooning bottoms to a multitude of colourful bejewelled skirts and so much more.
It’s every bit as arresting as the biggest Bollywood blockbusters, and much of the soundtrack is drawn from here as well. Mozart of Madras A.R. Rahman’s music makes an appearance, as does that of Vishal-Shekhar and Sulaiman Sekha – musical titans in the scene.
Meanwhile, a colossal LED screen will supply the backdrop to many of the numbers and over 100 moving lights will shine down on the stage to create an immersive scene straight from the movies.
The tribute to the world’s largest film industry doesn’t stop there as a Bollywood Bazaar will be erected at the Istana Budaya throughout the duration of the show. Visitors can pick up all manner of accessories and clothing items as well as a wide range of desi culinary delights.
More than just a show, Mystic India is a sensory experience combining dance, theatre, history and special effects, to create a unique amalgamation of colour and culture. It could just be the next best thing to hopping on a plane and going to India in person.