Rah rah Rani

The Taj Express got a celebrity cheerleader when Bollywood actress Rani Mukherjee attended the musical's world premiere on June 7 at the Esplanade Theatre.

The petite actress was in town to show support for her close friend Vaibhavi Merchant, the show's director of choreography and co-producer and was on the stage after the show to present flowers to director Shruti Merchant, Vaibhavi and the rest of the cast.

When tabla! managed to catch up with her for a quick chat, she said she enjoyed watching every bit of the musical.

"I have done a lot of stage shows, this is unique in its format, as it is talking about India," she said, adding: "India is not only about songs and dances, not just about Bollywood and cricket. It is much more than that. Taj Express is a very nice way to tell the world about India, what India has and the colours of India."

She went on to state that she felt "so proud to be an Indian" while she was watching the show: "There are so many forms of dance, to have such diverse cultures, diverse religions... woven into one garland."

Rani wasn't all praise though. She revealed that it was a very different show from the preview the Merchant sisters held for their friends last year in Mumbai. But in a good way.

Apparently Rani was very critical of the first showing and Vaibhavi confirmed that her friend had been blunt in her appraisal. "She has been very honest with me," said Vaibhavi.

The Merchant siblings took the words of their friend seriously and, in Rani's words, "completely transformed the show from last year".

"I would say that what they presented here is in a true sense a world premiere. It's more true to the soul of the Taj Express," she added.

Rani also liked the fact that the all-Indian production made its debut in Singapore.

"People around the world know about the warmth this country exudes and it is a very correct platform to have the Taj Express' world premiere here. There are a lot of Indians here and there are lot of non-Indians who enjoy songs and dances," she said.

The actress who has two films coming out later this year also told tabla! that she would like to be part of a musical like the Taj Express.

"I would love to because it's like the Bollywood film on stage and it has all the drama and romance... it's got songs and dancing," she said.

And you really can't have an Indian musical without the songs and dances, added Rani. "We Indians are basically very colourful...we have a livewire energy. We are very unique. The songs and dances... it is a part of our culture. You cannot remove songs and dances from an Indian. It is interwoven from the time of our birth."

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