“Bollywood Boulevard” captures spirit, artistry, and history of Hindi cinema from the classical era to the present day.
On August 26, in the majestic setting of the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, just outside Washington, DC, Hindi songs and dances dating back to the 1940s elicited laughter, tears and thunderous applause.
The “Bollywood Boulevard: A Journey Through Hindi Cinema,” a two-hour show comprising live music, dance, and film clips and showcasing the history of Hindi cinema, was a feast for eyes and ears.
More a thousand people were singing along with the singers and dancing in the aisles. For those in the audience, who were not familiar with Bollywood, it was an occasion to experience the spirit, artistry, and history of Hindi cinema from the classical era to the present day.
“I love Bollywood movies, songs and dances, “said Daisy Brown, a resident of Richmond, Virginia, who drove two and half hours to be at the show.
“We had to be here,” said Jagdish Sarin, a former Voice of America Hindi service head, who was at the show with his family. “It was like going on a memory lane and a reintroducing Indian ethos to our children who are born and raised here.”
Featuring 18 dancers, nine musicians, digital backdrops and film clips, more than 100 years of Hindi cinema was alive at the stage show..
According to the organizers, the show, first of its kind in the United States, was inspired by the music of maestros R.D. Burman, Lata Mangeshkar, and A.R. Rahman, the dance moves of superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai and Priyanka Chopra, and romance as captured by Raj Kapoor and Yash Raj Chopra.
“It was beautiful to see what life all was about,” said 80-year-old Vimla Khurana. “Who can better tell that than Hindi cinemas?”
The younger generation that grew up here in the United States whistled and danced to the beats.
“Bollywood Boulevard” was created by MELA Productions in association with the Aaditaal Music Project. It was conceived as an idea by US-based executive producer, creator, and dancer Heena Patel of MELA and was created in partnership with Rushi Vakil of Aaditaal Music Project.
Patel, born in Toronto, and Vakil, born and raised in India, teamed up in 2017 to further people’s curiosity for the genre on the stage through “Bollywood Boulevard.”
“Our effort was to deepen peoples’ understanding of Hindi cinema,” Patel said.
“Being a child, like other South Asian immigrants in the ’80s, we grew up with Bollywood music and cinema. Bollywood was around me in all shapes and forms, be it cinema, music or dance, since I was a little girl.”
“There was popular Hindi music all around me, that pushed me to understand it and follow it more passionately, so we created this high-energy cultural bridge” said Vakil.
Indian American Arvind Manocha, the president and CEO of the Wolf Trap, said that it was wonderful to see all families and friends getting together and enjoying the Bollywood show.
Wolf Trap, in Vienna, VA, has hosted prominent artists from all around the world, including many South Asian artists, such as Asha Bhosle and A.R. Rahman.