Bollywood and Broadway… and never the twain shall meet.

bollywood-dreamz_insert_2And yet, they shall-with Bollywood Dreamz, “Journey of a Star” combining the theatrical magic of Broadway and the energetic choreography of Bollywood. The show promises to have all the elements of a successful musical: family drama, romance, good versus evil, a righteous hero, and a few fight scenes.

Envisioned, produced and directed by Sheetal Ohri, Bollywood Dreamz is an original screenplay that will be the first production of its kind in the Silicon Valley.

The inspiration for the show emanated from the inaugural Silicon Valley Awards held last November. The SVA honored and recognized people and organizations in the categories of Entrepreneurship, Science and Technology, Non-profits, Media and Films (Short Films) and Writers/ Book Authors. But along with the awards ceremony, the evening featured various forms of entertainment; including a fashion show and a one of its kind 20-minute Bollywood theatrical act entitled Laila Majnu. It was so well received that Ohri was motivated to explore a unique endeavor.

“Bollywood plays a key role in all our lives and the music has influenced [the] West too, so I wanted to depict the story with a message through drama and [also] thought about choosing the title [that describes] the journey of a star who was a simple guy living in a village,” adds Ohri.

She continued to explain that while there are currently many Bollywood shows being performed throughout Bay Area, none (until now) have taken the next step of incorporating a story line into the typical Bollywood routine of song and dance. With high interest in the integration of two forms of entertainment, Ohri set forth to create an original screenplay that she could bring to the stage.

Five months after Laila Majnu, Ohri’s vision has come to fruition. Bollywood Dreamz is a 60-member cast and crew production slated to open to an eager audience this month. The two-hour performance combines English dialogue and songs sung in Bollywood movies. Through her leadership and guidance, she has been able to facilitate a collaborative effort among musician Madan Oak of Wings on Strings Ensemble, main choreographer Uma Dhanapal of Kriyaa Dance Academy, and secondary choreographer Anusha Anand (who is also in charge of prop creation) of Anusha Anand Dance Connection.

Madan Oak is a disciple of world-renowned santoor maestro Padma Vibhushan Shivkumar Sharma. Oak has been studying Indian classical music for over 25 years and has won several college/university level awards in classical music competitions. He is also involved in promoting Indian classical music and culture in America and has headed several local Indian organizations.

In 2010, Kriyaa Dance Academy was founded by Uma Dhanpal, a renowned bharthanatyam (classical Indian dance) trained dancer and choreographer. She has performed at numerous shows in India and the United States, and choreographs for various local events. Dhanpal also works at Psymphony Radio (KLOK 1170AM), one of the leading multi-lingual radio shows in the Bay Area.

Anusha Anand brings to Bollywood Dreamz years of creative dance experience. Anand is a Bharathanatyam student who has explored various types of dance to re-invent her own choreographic style. She has learned from prominent gurus, including Shri Raja, Nirmala Madhava, and Deepika Anand. She believes in using her dance skills and talents to give back to the community, primarily by conducting free and fun-loving dance classes.

A number of auditions eventually yielded the lead role to Ausaf Masud, a local IT professional that has also worked in film and television. The multi-lingual Masud’s resume also includes hosting and modeling. His most recent movie, Vermaji has been accepted at the Cannes Film Festival (Short Film corner 2013 in the non-competitive section.)
When asked about her goals and hopes for Bollywood Dreamz, Ohri replied that she wants people to come away with the intended moral of the story: that while any common man may reach for the star and achieve great success, he will realize the importance of and always go back to family. Ohri added, “I hope people will love the performances of the performers who are working very hard and to make this show successful.”

Sunday, April 28. 3 p.m. Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center (San Ramon Performing Arts), 10550 Albion Road, San Ramon. $25-$35. sanramonperformingarts.com. (925) 973-3343.

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