A few years ago, Omer Haider found himself in London’s West End, watching Peter and the Wolf (2006), the Oscar-winning animated film directed by Suzie Templeton. The film has no narrator and is set to music as images unfold on the screen to tell the story of a shy and timid Russian boy who lives near a forest. “I was mesmerised by how unique the show was, and immediately got in touch with the makers of the show to collaborate with them to bring it to India for the first time,” says Haider, who runs Showhouse Events, that organises concerts in India with the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre De La Suisse Romande and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, among others.
The concept is not new in India — Delhi and Mumbai have both hosted events where a film is stripped off its sound, and played to music performed live by a group of musicians. Last month, Mumbai-based musicians Tajdar Junaid and Rohan Rajadhyaksha performed at Magnolia furniture store, scoring live music to a number of silent films from the 1900s. But by bringing “Cinema in Concert” to India, Haider has set his sights on something bigger. “It is a four-city tour that begins in Mumbai this weekend. In July, it travels to Delhi, and in August, to Kolkata and Bangalore. We plan on presenting Cinema in Concert shows to Indian audiences twice a year, with iconic films set to live music by some of the leading orchestras of the world,” he says.
So, who can attend these screenings? While renowned and popular films such as The Godfather, Titanic and Skyfall have lent themselves to the concept in similar shows around the world, for their first outing in India, Cinema in Concert is catering to young children and families. The main feature, the Oscar-nominated Magic Piano (2011), is a 28-minute-long animation film, made by BreakThru Films that also produced Peter and the Wolf. It is the story of a young girl, Anna, who discovers an old piano that magically transforms into a flying machine. “This is presented along Chopin Shorts, a collection of three-four minute short films, each set to the compositions of the legendary maestro Frederic Chopin’s etudes,” says Haider.
Bringing Chopin to life is London-based piano virtuoso Dinara Klinton, who will also conduct an hour-long workshop in a number of schools in all four cities, performing pieces by JS Bach, WA Mozart and LV Beethoven, to name a few. “The workshops began in Mumbai on Tuesday and will continue till June 15, before the public shows that take place over the weekend,” says Haider.
Mumbai: St Andrews Auditorium,
Bandra, June 16-17
Delhi: Kamani Auditorium, July 28-29
Kolkata: Kala Mandir, August 4-5