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Gandhi gets Bollywood twist for Christchurch

Gandhi gets Bollywood twist for Christchurch

Show Director Shawn Thomas (front, centre) is excited to tell the story of Gandhi in a uniquely Bollywood style.

17 April 2018

Christchurch will be treated to a Bollywood adaptation of the life of Mahatma Gandhi in the third annual Bollywood Dreams show starting this Thursday.

Bollywood Dreams is a Christchurch dance school which teaches the style made popular in Indian films. It was founded by 24-year-old Shawn Thomas in 2014 when he was given the opportunity to perform at the ICC Cricket World Cup opening ceremony.

The musical is choreographed and directed by Thomas from a story written by New Zealanders Jay Holland and Ciaran Findlay.

Three shows, almost all already sold out, run from Thursday to Saturday at YMCA’s Papa Hou auditorium. This year’s performance follows two years of sold out shows based on popular Indian romantic comedy films.

“This show is a celebration not only of Bollywood dancing, but also of one of India’s most famous sons,” Thomas says.

“Because the show’s been written by two Kiwis, it’s also a fun mash of Indian and New Zealand cultures and that’s what dancing is all about — bringing people together.”

The musical highlights some of the most important moments in Gandhi’s life, before and during his non-violent struggle for Indian independence from British rule.

It’s a musical extravaganza of 13 Bollywood songs and dances across a variety of genres, complemented by a spectacular set which depicts the era of the man who shaped an entire nation.

More than 50 performers, aged between six and 26 and of all different abilities, make up the cast.

The majority are Indian-New Zealanders, but around 10% are not, and Thomas says Bollywood dancing is growing in popularity in this country.

“Bollywood dancing is so much fun and Kiwis are embracing it as a great way to stay fit,” he says.

“Since founding the school just four years ago, we’ve grown to having 70 students. Many have never grown up with Bollywood but now love it as much as us Indians do.”

“We see Bollywood dancing as an awesome way to celebrate Indian culture and help teach people that there’s more to our culture than butter chicken.”

The rise in popularity of Bollywood dancing in New Zealand is evidenced by such things as this video, of Canterbury police having a dance off with Thomas and his crew, amassing more than a million views.

“On top of this, TV3 is creating its own Bollywood dancing reality TV show which is definitely something to look out for,” Thomas says.

“Diwali festival is also growing every year and it’s an awesome time to be growing up as a proud Indian-Kiwi.”

Tickets for the musical are $15 to $20 and can be purchased from Eventfinda.


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