Friday, May 10, 2013

When Bollywood and Hollywood Collide

Photo credit: Monique Carboni
Bunty Berman Presents... is a great idea in theory--a musical about 1950s Bollywood presented in Hollywood Golden Age style. Occasionally, such as at the end of acts 1 and 2, everything comes together, but too often the show falls short of its potential.

Ayub Khan Din wrote the book and lyrics and co-wrote the music with Paul Bogaev. After an actor was injured in early previews, Din stepped in to play Bollywood movie producer Bunty Berman. Berman is struggling as his leading man Raj Dhawan (Sorab Wadia) is aging and can't carry a movie like he used to. There are a bunch of subplots, including a love story between leading lady Shambervi (Lipica Shah) and her childhood friend/tea boy Saleem (Nick Choksi). Despite the best efforts of the cast, who are all working extremely hard with Wadia having the best results, the humor often fails to land. The show should move at a madcap pace, but director Scott Elliott fails to keep the momentum going. It would have been nice to have more Bollywood music, but big, old-fashioned ensemble numbers like "Let's Make A Movie" are the high points. The show is visually appealing thanks to Derek McLane's sets and William Ivey Long's costumes. It just needs a tighter script and about an hour shaved off the run time.

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