THEY thought so highly of Singapore that the Merchant sisters felt that when it came to launching their first stage musical Taj Express, Singapore was the place.
Speaking to the media on May 11 at the NTUC Centre, Shruti and Vaibhavi Merchant felt that after the staging of the Australian production of The Merchants of Bollywood in 2010, which was based on the lives of Vaibhavi and her grandfather, it was the reaction from the Singapore audience that sealed the deal.
Vaibhavi, who is also the director of choreography of Taj Express, said : "The audiences have been wonderful out here. We felt that the world premiere has to be in Singapore."
The musical, which has English dialogue and Hindi songs, will be staged at the Esplanade Theatre from June 6 to 10, showcasing India's diverse culture and heritage in a two-hour show of song, dance and music with extravagant costumes and set designs. It will also have Indian pop and Bollywood songs as well as traditional folk dances like the Lavani from Maharashtra, the Koothu from South India and the Tandava, the dance of Shiva.
Popular Hindi cinema actors like Rani Mukherjee and Salman Khan have confirmed their attendance at the world premiere show on June 7.
Taj Express has four actors, 42 dancers, over 2,000 costumes and 1,500 accessories. Using the actual Taj Express train service as a platform for the simple love story of boy meets girl, the musical travels from Mumbai to Varanasi, giving the creators a chance to weave dance and music into the plot - ensuring the production is "as entertaining as possible" said the Merchant sisters.
The sisters also picked the winners of a dance contest. Finalists had to take part in a flash mob organised by De Ideaz, the musical's promoter at the Ticket Cube in Orchard Road. The Merchants acted as judges.