On a pleasant Friday evening, the mood inside the Grand Theatre at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC) was bright and cheerful as we waited for the 'The Great Indian Musical...' to begin. After all, having missed the last season of Feroz Abbas Khan's glittery and glowing tribute to India's journey from a civilization to nation, attending this became even more special. And so, with our phones on silent mode, and tongues on mute, we submitted ourselves completely for the next 90 minutes, to the dazzling spectacle unfolding on the stage in front of us, clearly visible up close, from our platinum seats ten rows away.
‘The Great Indian Musical: Civilization To Nation’ – conceived, written and directed by Feroz Abbas Khan is a spectacular tribute to the country's past, present and future, presented via an eclectic mix of dance, drama and music that enchants and engrosses the viewer throughout. The sets here are larger-than-life and delightful and the music is soothing and highly absorbing. Beginning with Ramayana/Mahabharata the narrative celebrates India's syncretism as it takes us through different epochs in the nation's consciousness—the growth of Buddhism and Jainism, the beginning and the eventual spread of the Bhakti movement, the spread of Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and the inclusion of the tribal culture and way of life, British India's uprisings and the quest for freedom and independent India's aspirations for growth and prosperity—all of which go on to make the country a rich amalgamation of diverse values and ideas culminating in the India, as we know it today. Each era/period or point in India's rich history is marked and celebrated with deftly orchestrated dance sequences and electrifying music, presented by exceptionally talented artists.
There is Ajay-Atul (Music), Vaibhavi Merchant and Mayuri Upadhyay's unparalleled choreography, shimmery and flowing costumes by Manish Malhotra and internationally celebrated, multiple award-winning artists helming the light design (Donald Holder), stage and scenic presentation (Neil Patel) and and sound and projection designs by Gareth Owen and John Narun respectively.
Seamless stage play and coordination meant that we moved from one epoch to the next as if we were turning the pages of a book and learning so much more about the journey of a nation, as it went from being a culturally rich and diverse civilisation to a nation in all its colours. It is said that stagecraft or stage setting is not a background; it is an environment.
When inside the dark and aptly quiet hallways of the Grand Theatre, one couldn't agree more. Here, the show is priority and foremost and if one is late, one is rightfully made to wait before one can take their seat. The prompt and courteous staff makes sure you have an uninterrupted and fully absorbing experience. The best part: there is no intermission here. And this way you get to immerse yourself fully into the dazzling performances on stage, so that the spellbinding dazzle remains with you long after you have left the theatre.
'The Great Indian Musical Civilization to Nation' is on till October 8 at NMACC Mumbai.