July 2011

Bombay Dreams comes to the big screen


I’m always surprised by the fact that so many Americans don’t know anything about Bollywood.  Because it is so good.  The Indian films are produced in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and feature lavish sets, detailed costumes, beautiful leading men and ladies, lushly scored music and dance numbers and always, always have very romantic love stories.  Basically Bollywood movies are American soap operas with Indian dress and singing. 


Perhaps because of the English speaking world’s relative unfamiliarity with Bollywood movies, musical theater superstar Andrew Lloyd Webber (of Cats and Phantom of the Opera Fame) produced a musical called Bombay Dreams in 2002. A.R. Rahman, the composer who scored the music for mega-hit Slumdog Millionaire, wrote the music for the musical. Bombay Dreams opened on London’s West End in 2002 and then went to Broadway in 2004.  The show toured the United States beginning in 2006. 

Huun Huur Tu at Philadelphia Folk Festival

I was lucky enough to see Huun Huur Tu, an ensemble of Tuvan throat singers and musicians, perform live at the Old Town School of Music in Chicago this past year. Believe me when I tell you that YouTube doesn't quite capture the experience. Not all the overtones that can be produced from the human throat can be encoded in .flv. It's music that has to be experienced live in order for your ears to physically pick up on all the tones being sung. But recordings do give a decent enough approximation of how throat singers can produce multiple tones at once. It's pretty amazing stuff. Check out Huun Huur Tu's 2006 performance at the Philadelphia Folk Festival below.