Bonjour Bollywood

In France,I feel a growing fondness for things Indian. Did you know that the kurta-churidar is the latest trend in Paris? Rudraksha and bangles are popular too.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published:February 10, 2012 3:23 am

The musical Zangoora inspires a film by a team of television producers from Paris

In France,I feel a growing fondness for things Indian. Did you know that the kurta-churidar is the latest trend in Paris? Rudraksha and bangles are popular too. Even designer Karl Lagerfeld presented an India-inspired collection. For the shows I produce,we often use Indian-sounding music and dancers as well. India is the next big country for us,fashion-wise and idea-wise,” says Dominique Cantien,a television producer from Paris.

Cantien and a team of five have dropped anchor in Delhi,to make a film on the musical,Zangoora,which is performed daily at entertainment park,Kingdom of Dreams (KoD),in Gurgaon. Through this film,the team hopes to tell a story of India.

In KoD,where old Bollywood movie posters flutter on a wall,a group of Rajasthani singers play the morchang and khartal and a train coach-turned-eatery sells pao bhaji,the three Parisians sit around a table,fascinated. Cantien,Laurent Goldstein,David Pierre-Bloch along with French actor Stephane Ferrara,who is touring with the group,are here to shoot an 80-minute-long documentary and a show series on Zangoora and the making of KoD for French channel NRJ 12. Cantien,Pierre-Bloch and Goldstein are producers of this seven episode-show and the documentary.

While theatre purists have often scoffed at Zangoora’s over-the-top depictions,the musical attracts a sizeable audience at every show. Its fans describe the play as “Bollywood Live”,especially since some actors are from the film fraternity — Hussain Kuwajerwala and Gauhar Khan among them. Kuwajerwala plays Zangoora,a gypsy prince,in this fantasy set in the fictional kingdom of Shaktishila. A love triangle between Zangoora,princess Sonali and a gypsy girl Laachi spices up the storyline.

“I watched Zangoora last year and informed David about it. In France,Bollywood is very popular,we watch the movies and know the songs,though we don’t remember names. Making a documentary on a Bollywood musical sums up this fascination,” says Goldstein,who divides his time between Delhi and Paris. The documentary has tentatively been titled In the heart of Kingdom of Dreams and is expected to release in France next month. There are no plans to release it in India at present.

The film will comprise not only scenes from the play but also the off-stage lives of dancers,stars,producers and backstage help. “We have picked up 10 people involved in Zangoora such as Gauhar Khan and Hussain as well as dancers and backstage technicians. We follow them as they create this musical and highlight who they are when they are not performing in this fantasy tale,” said Pierre-Bloch.

Ask him what it is about Bollywood that holds his attention,and pat comes the reply “dance,drama,special effects,music and costumes”.

For their first show of Zangoora,Cantien flaunted a neon green bag with a Meena Kumari image and Goldstein wore a mehendi green stole with a madhubani imprint.

Cantien adds that she hopes a show on a Bollywood musical will “revive the dull French television industry and tells people to dream”.

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