It has become a Labor Day ritual for Houston’s desi community to celebrate the long holiday weekend with some Bollywood fun. Approximately 8,000 people from a diverse cross section of the Bayou City turned out for the sixth annual Bollywood Blast Once Upon a Time.... musical extravaganza last weekend at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Set against the backdrop of popular Bollywood songs, the two-hour musical began as Subodh Bhuchar (playing the father) narrated a bedtime story to his young daughter.
“The theme this year is inspired by fairy tales, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty, with plenty of Bollywood masala," explained Bollywood dancer/choreographer/teacher Mahesh Mahbubani, who has directed the Bollywood Blast for four years.
Singing and dancing is an important part of Indian culture. It serves as a means to express human emotions. And the success of Oscar winner A. R Rahman, composer of the music in Slumdog Millionaire, has brought Bollywood into mainstream focus for American audiences.
“I feel Bollywood dance is fun, has a mass appeal and is easily identified by the masses for its simplicity of dance movement," Mahbubani said.
The show, presented by the Samskriti Society for the Performing Arts, featured a vibrant display of Indian culture, with colorful costumes custom-designed in Mumbai. The production was a culmination of 10 weeks of rehearsals and four months of planning.
The 60 dancers, ranging in age from five to 50, are students at Mahbubani's Bollywood Dance School and have been training with him for the past three years.
Ruchi Mukherjee is a lifestyle feature journalist for TV Asia and host of Lights Camera Action, on online magazine that covers Houston Indo-American society news.