Think Bollywood. What kind of imagery comes to your mind? Music, colours, costumes, drama, emotion – it is a kaleidoscope of entertainment like none other.
Think Nautanki. An art form for many, it is a term associated with live theatre – mostly the folk kind, playing out in the rural and semi-urban landscapes of the country.
Now bring the two together and you have the best of both Bollywood and Nautanki at the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, a suburb of New Delhi. Boasting of two shows – Zangoora (already a veteran of over 700 live performances) and the relatively new Jhumroo. I was treated to the former recently, and I did come back impressed.
Zangoora is, in many ways, one of those bedtime stories your grandmother may have narrated: an infant prince, whisked away by a loyalist when the king and queen are murdered by a minister, is brought up by gypsies only to find out the truth in adulthood. He then seeks revenge to claim his rightful place on the throne, and also finds his lady love along the way. And everyone lives happily thereafter.
It is not the story but the presentation that is sheer entertainment. Bollywood has always been at its creative best with music, colours, dances and costumes – and this is what you see here. Your favourite Bollywood numbers come on every few minutes, with dialogues used sparingly in between the musical. The dancers, scores of them, are a delight with their bright dresses and shaking more than just a leg or two with full gusto and energy. You have to restrain yourself from joining in the enthusiasm; you not only go foot tapping, but actually want to get up and dance yourself.
And I was surprised with the sets and special effects too. Many a live setting tend to look a bit tacky in the country, probably because the low budgets of theatre in India. Not so at Kingdom of Dreams. The sets were impressive, to match international standards. As were the flying objects. You had sequences where actors came on stage in their chariots and other ‘vehicles’ from up in the sky. Add to it screens with moving images on the sides of the auditorium and you need a neck to move 360 degrees to absorb it all in.
The dialogues and their delivery may come across as a bit of a slapstick, and highly simplistic, to some – but that is well in keeping up with the Nautanki flavour.
Are you wondering how the lead Hussain performed? I was there on a day when he was not – Hussain comes on mostly on weekends. But the other actors were good too. Go, lose yourself in the make believe world of Zangoora. It beats much of what Bollywood is churning out at a multiplex near you.
- Weekends can be very crowded, so do book in advance and reach well in time.
- Want to grab a bite? Reach early, and spend time at the Culture Gully with cuisines from all over India. This too can be very crowded especially on weekends and before show timings.
- You can pick munchies, beverages (including alcoholic ones) at the theatre during the break.
- Which seats should you pick? Go for Diamond with the lazy boy seats. The chairs for all other categories could do with an upgrade – they are a tad uncomfortable, more so since the show is long. And there are no cup holders for your drinks. Beyond Diamond, you could pick any other seats and the experience will not be very different. Except perhaps the first row (where you may have to crane your neck to see the stage) and the extreme corners at the back.
- Valets take care of your car – better than looking for a spot yourself.
- Strictly no photography allowed in the theatre – but ok to do so at the Culture Gully.
- For bookings and more info, visit kingdomofdreams.in.
The photos have been provided by Kingdom of Dreams.