Wah! Wah! Girls – A British Bollywood Musical is at the Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2. Until June 23.
East London’s Stratford meets Bollywood in this new drama from Sadler’s Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Kneehigh.
Too many people think that Bollywood films are made up of flimsy plots strung together with a series of songs but this isn’t accurate.
Tanika Gupta pays homage to India's cinema industry with a great soundtrack taking songs from iconic films
They – not always – but often, tackle serious issues.
Here we have a story about love against the odds, and hidden family secrets that are later uncovered in shocking revelations.
So, lots of drama as is appropriate for the genre.
Gupta pays homage to India’s cinema industry with a great soundtrack taking songs from iconic films such as Umrao Jaan, Sholay, and Devdas in the play, which centres around a night club and its dancing girls,
Khal Nayak’s Choli ke Peeche song was there too of course, and delivered with moves as suggestive as the lyrics leant themselves to in the film.
This made for a nostalgic experience for us movie buffs in the audience who have grown up on a diet of Bollywood flicks albeit while living away from the mother land.
At the heart of the story are two ‘unlikely’ love stories expressed with all the passion and playfulness that goes with romance.
The original songs including the one that takes its name from the musical’s title were also pleasing.
Incidentally ‘wah wah’ refers to the Urdu word pronounced ‘va va’ most often used as a form of high praise.
The word 'wah wah' refers to the Urdu word pronounced 'va va' most often used as a form of high praise.
It can literally be translated as ‘wow’ and is usually declared with gusto by native speakers in situations that bring pleasure.
This could be in response to anything from enjoying a meal to watching a dancer interpret classical poetry in such a beautiful, stylistic and meticulous way with depth and feeling that the viewer is rendered unable to use any word but this one to express an appreciation.
The script is not one that requires hard work. It’s all there, easy to digest, lighthearted and entertaining.
However, its humour lacks real wit in parts and my date wasn’t convinced by the accent of a Polish handy-man’s character who she said kept falling into a style that was ‘too American.’
The show would be better described as theatre containing songs than a musical.
Though that could be in part down to the venue, which leans itself to performance of a more intimate nature than say the brash in-your-face – and that is usually exactly what we are going for when we go to see a West End show at a larger venue.
This is instead a more pared down piece when compared with Bombay Dreams which had music from A. R. Rahman and was produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 2002.