Viraf Sarkari , director and producer of Wizcraft International’s latest production Balle Balle, talks about its music and the challenges one faces while working on a Broadway-style musical
Talk about Indian culture and tradition and one of the first things that come to mind are weddings, which are usually big and grand. Taking this theme, Media and Entertainment Company — Wizcraft International has announced its newest production — Balle Balle, a crazy Indian wedding theatrical. Directed by Viraf Sarkari and produced by Andre Timmins, Sabbas Joseph and Sarkari, the Broadway-style musical comedy combines the popularity of Bollywood music and madness of an Indian wedding. The play will premiere in Mumbai on November 9. Prior to its launch Sarkari says that Balle Balle is a combination of fun frolic, music, colours, song and dance. The director tells us more:
What is Balle Balle all about?
It’s a Broadway style Bollywood musical which is based on the theme of a grand Punjabi wedding. The play has got 24 actors and dancers. We have an entire team of production designers, costume designers, music composers and director. A lot of creative talent has worked with me to make the play happen. The musical is a humorous presentation of Indian weddings known world over to be larger than life. The storyline weaves through love stories, mix-ups, relationships, emotions and celebration, brought alive by endearing characters that audiences will immediately identify with.
Can you throw some light on the music which is an integral part of the play?
Balle Balle is going to feature 25 iconic Bollywood songs. The actors are going to sing the songs live and perform to it.
The story has been with you for seven years. Have you made any changes in the story keeping the young generation in mind?
The story has been with me for eight years and over a period of time, the story has evolved. Every time you do a scripting, it evolves. The evolution also comes from the fact that you are interacting with your creative members and a lot of ideas are exchanged. You integrate the best and then finalise the story. Though 70 per cent of it is what I had thought but the rest is a combination of a lot of thinking and improvisation while rehearsing the play.
Considering Wizcraft, which is known for its extravagant productions, what’s the USP of this play?
The play is extravagant in its production designs, costumes, look and everything related to it. But what’s interesting is that it’s been designed to be a touring show, which means it fits into any auditorium across the world. We are touring with the show far and wide, so designed it accordingly.
What are some of the challenges when it comes to directing musicals?
Obviously the biggest task is the story. When we get the right story, everything else falls into place. Also, getting a good scriptwriter is very important. Then there are challenges that we face in different phases like the casting. When it comes to Broadway-style theatre in India one of the most difficult things is to find the right cast because musicals are not very common here. We call it quadruple threat which you have in theatre. It means the actors we select need to look the part, can sing, dance and also be a good actor. It’s a combination of talent. You can realise the amount of auditions we had to conduct to select 24 actors. We had auditioned around 1500 to 2,000 people and then zeroed in on the 24.
What are the key areas you need to keep in mind when working with such a huge cast and crew?
The most important aspect for actors to remember while working in a musical is that they need to stay in their character while they are singing and dancing. They can be enacting a happy, comic, emotional or angry scene but they need to stay in their character.
Are you nervous as the show is about to debut and the audience is expecting everything to be grand?
Yes, I am. What we have created is a hardcore commercial Bollywood production. You can’t go wrong with an Indian wedding, especially a Punjabi wedding. Most Bollywood films we have watched, which revolve around the wedding theme, have never gone wrong. That’s because people love watching a happy situation which has fun frolic, music, colours, song and dance. Balle Balle is a combination of all that.
ST Readers Service
Balle Balle will premiere at Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir, Bandra (West), Mumbai November 9.