Desi Sound of Music
Growing up in the UK, I was exposed to all the classic mid-20th century children films: Mary Poppins; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Bedknobs and Broomsticks; Alice in Wonderland; Wizard of Oz, and The Sound of Music. These remain to be amongst my all-time favourite films. They are great examples of wholesome and creative entertainment. I can still recite these films, and am filled with child-like joy every time I think about them.
So when my best friend told me she had tickets to watch The Sound of Music live in Mumbai, she didn’t foresee my excitement. I thought we’d be watching the international Broadway musical and was impressed that they would perform in India.
When we arrived at NCPA, to my dismay, The Sound of Music we were to watch was an Indian production by Raell Padamsee starring Dalip Tahil (who is known in Bollywood for his side roles — often as a villain — in films like Qayamat Se Qayamatak, Baazigar, Deewana) and noone else I recognized. The poster didn’t look promising and I half-chuckled to myself thinking “an Indian re-production. Let’s see how much they’ve ruined it”. Terrible bias, I know. Just, something about Indians performing Sound of Music didn’t sit right.
I was completely wrong and felt pathetic for the prejudice. The show was amazing. Dalip Tahil was outstanding. His stage presence, acting and voice blew me away. He should never have bothered with Bollywood! Delna Mody played the lead role of Maria and she was phenomenal too. She mimicked Julie Andrews so well, that if you closed your eyes and listened to her, you would believe it was Andrews herself. All the other characters, the kids, the nuns, were fabulous too, from the way they depicted the characters to their live singing, I was overwhelmed and so proud about how wonderfully an Indian production could pull it off.
What also struck the heart was the inclusion of kids from NGO’s like Happy Home and School for the Blind and Salaam Bombay foundation, who also performed so beautifully, I was stunned and it brought a tear to my eyes.
Learning: Never underestimate. Give modern India the benefit of the doubt.
If you ever get the opportunity to watch The Sound of Music live in India, don’t miss it.