It’s the stuff fairy tales are made off, clad in feathered headpieces and neon shoes, set to nineteen much-loved Kishore Kumar songs: what could possibly go wrong? More than you’d expect, proves Jhumroo, a new musical that opens at the Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon this week. Yet, we suggest you not only go watch but stay until the final curtain call: despite hackneyed dialogues and a dragging plot, this story has a happy ending.
Plots and Plots of Love?
Jhumroo is essentially a masculinized version of Cinderella, centering around Bholanath Tripathi, a protagonist who has deep affection for singing (which he can’t do) and the coolest girl in the office (whom he can’t have). He finds an unlikely fairy godparent in the spirit of Kishore Kumar, his guru and muse, who possesses our hapless hero and lends him singing talent compelling enough to win an Indian Idol-esque contest and also the heart of his beloved. The wicked stepmother here is a (male) contest judge, acerbic and violently protective of his own protégé, Ali, who until Bhola’s arrival is frontrunner for the contest prize.
Sweet Dreams are Made of These
The true heroes of Jhumroo, however, are props and production: on stage, elaborate scenes magically form and melt away in moments, replaced by whole new vistas. Dancers stomp on and off, sometimes transforming the whole auditorium into a whirl of color and sound. A three-paneled screen emanates from the back of the stage and is used to gorgeous effect, depicting everything from Kishore Kumar’s impish, darting spirit to Marine Drive, which new lovers navigate in a light-limned car. Oh, Mumbai, this Scouter misses you so!
Wake Up Bid
But not even Kishore Da’s music, Manish Arora’s costumes and Ashley Lobo’s choreography can redeem the first half of Jhumroo, which goes for too many cheap laughs, too very often. If it wasn’t for this review, we would have left by interval.
It’s a good thing we stayed, though, as the next segment is a huge improvement, mainly because it provides unexpected plot twists and gives the actors an opportunity to actually.... well, act. Gaurav Gera, who plays Bhola, is evocative and convincing in the last few scenes, and Ali is charismatic and easy on the eyes. There’s also a terrific song sequence set to O Saathi Chal, where the skates Hema Malini and Rajesh Khanna don in the original song are replaced by ceiling harnesses, allowing the leads to quite literally sweep each other off their feet.
Sappily Ever After
By the end of the two and a half hour show, we experienced a similar sensation, exhilarated and slightly dizzy: it could have been the confetti or kitschy tunes, or maybe a cat-eyed dancer who bounded up the stairs to dance with a kid in the audience; but for a few moments, despite its many flaws, Jhumroo had us falling in love.
Getting there: Kingdom of Dreams, Auditorium Complex, Sector 29, Gurgaon, book tickets online at www.kingdomofdreams.in, start at Rs 500.