Theatre houses all over the world are facing the same crushing predicament: They’re busy handing out refunds rather than raking in ticket sales. Lives were upended and dreams were put on hold at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac), which had been in perpetual lockdown for almost half a year.
Director Datuk Faridah Merican’s labour of love, Bollywood Dreams, almost came to naught until the government announced that all events, shows or live performances in the creative industry are allowed to be held with a live audience from Mar 10. Suddenly, the lights at Pentas 1 are aglow again.
Bollywood Dreams was meant to kickstart klpac’s 2021 recovery programme but the stage production ground to a halt after the Movement Control Order (MCO) was reinstated in January. Although klpac as well as most theatre houses have resorted to using Zoom and other virtual means to record their plays, Bollywood Dreams has always been crafted for the big stage.
The two-hour show is adapted from playwright Mark Beau de Silva’s multi-award winning Hokkien play Big Head and Potato Head (2010). Set in 1980s Sungai Petani, Kedah, Bollywood Dreams chronicles the lives of two brothers, Pappu (Tin Raman) and Babu (Ian Skutu) who live with their mother (Ranessa Theyakaraja). The duo dreams of escaping the boring small town life by re-enacting scenes from their favourite Bollywood films.
However, the brothers’ fantasy is cut short when their Aunty Rupa (Alyce Michelle Joseph) returns home after leaving town years ago to pursue her acting career.
There will be drama, for sure, but the play is no where lacking in the song and dance department too. Bollywood and Kollywood music, along with one of the songs from Rajinikanth’s finest 1980s hit Podhuvaga En Manasa Thangam, will keep your toes tapping and fingers snapping.
Bollywood Dreams, painstakingly put together after months of virtual rehearsals via Zoom, will be presented in English with a smattering of Tamil. Joining the ensemble, which also comprises Amirah Redza, Ayushna Ganguly, Charity Yong, Devakar Rajah, Feyee Bethany, Nikkhil, Nisya Aziz, Sriyani Rao, Syarvin Sugumar and Tristen Loo, are classical Indian musicians Sivenesh Gopal (tabla) and Shaan Yogasingam (sitar).
The show will be recorded during the preview nights on Mar 24 and 25, while the streaming will most probably take place online via CloudTheatre in April.
Although Pentas 1 can only accommodate 168 theatregoers — instead of the full capacity of 504 — due to MCO restrictions, klpac is accepting donations to cushion the loss from physical distancing.
Malaysia’s local theatre scene is months away from a resuscitation but at least, the visceral thrill of a live show is back to colour our lives again.
‘Bollywood Dreams’, Pentas 1, klpac. Preview night: Mar 24 & 25 (8.30pm; RM24). Normal show: Mar 26, 27 & 28 (8.30pm; RM60, 80 and 100). Get your tickets here.