Why does India seem soulless

India crackers

Bollywood cinema probably has as much to do with real India as the Cologne Carnival has with everyday life in Germany. The “Bollywood” dance show doesn't take the clichés from the Indian potty films seriously either. Instead, she played fast-paced with them in the Cottbus town hall.


Bollywood is the film industry from the huge metropolis of Mumbai (known in the west as Bombay). Poppy, colorful mass-produced goods for relaxing and dreaming for modern city dwellers, dripping with kitsch and exoticism, with dance, music, spirituality and a sappy love story - the Indian counterpart to America's Hollywood cinema.
“Bollywood - The Show”, a dance theater production from Mumbai that is currently traveling through Europe with great success, is based on these guidelines. The plot in the Bollywood films is always the same anyway, it is said jokingly on the stage. A pair of lovers is rejected by their parents, the young woman falls into the clutches of a villain and in the end the lovers and their family are happily reunited. The dance show, which was conceived by the British Toby Gough, follows this pattern: Ayesha leaves her grandfather's village temple because she loves dance films. She wants to make a name for herself as a choreographer in Bombay. There she falls into the clutches of the funny Tony (recognizable in our photo at the back by the tight white suit, the oversized sunglasses and all sorts of pink chi-chi). Tony is a Bollywood director and always makes people laugh with his nasal-stretched personalities.
The simple English texts appear translated into German on video boards. Even so, the viewer would have no problems following the simple plot, which is spiced with humor and harmless nonsense. The fact that the depiction nevertheless mercilessly presses on the lacrimal gland in some moments is part of the ironic game.
Of course there is a happy ending: Ayesha finds her way back to her roots, marries her childhood sweetheart and dances from now on in the spirit of her grandfather, who has since died and is now smiling in the background. The crude story is obviously an absolute minor matter or rather just a transparent pretext to string together an almost inexhaustible chain of dance choreographies. The approximately fifty-strong ensemble throws legs and arms in the air, circles their hips, claps their hands, jumps in breakneck flick-flicks and somersaults that the audience loses hearing and seeing. A brightly colored dance chases the next, in breathless succession the actors hop across the stage in new, always gaudy, even more candy-colored costumes. Picturesque dance explosions sweep through the hall like machine gun fire. Some scenes illustrate the traditional side of India, then the dancers wear lavish and gold-embroidered robes. Other scenes show the modern, booming Asian subcontinent, then the dancers rotate in torn jeans and skin-tight camisoles.
In addition, a firework of colored light effects burns off. Trendy disco and hip-hop rhythms pump out to languishing singsong and folk drumming. In fact, the show is reminiscent of American-style black music videos. Men and women revolve around each other, it is about the game of attraction and rejection of the sexes. Although the bodies are half-naked and oiled, the Bollywood show leaves it, however, according to Indian customs, with a completely adult-free eroticism.
The dancers show childlike joy in the movement and enormous stamina - even after two and a half hours they look crisp and do not even sweat. And although they are obviously used to celebrating successes, they seem delighted and amazed at the cheers that echo them.
Despite all the commercialism, the show doesn't look like a soulless, professional money rip-off machine, the Indian performers obviously have fun performing. In the hall in the stands, their relatives enthusiastically sing along with the songs and small children dance Ringelrein. At the end, the Cottbus audience said goodbye to the sympathetic Bollywood troupe with frenetic applause.

The next appearances of "Bollywood - the Show" are sold out. Tickets are still available for Leipzig in April 2008. Information at www.bollywoodshow.de