Saturday, May 13, 2006

Chicago and Dubai

On Friday last, I went to see “Chicago”, the musical that has been making lots of noise in the entertainment world.
It was a beautiful evening and a wonderful setting, although the stage was smaller than I had expected and most of it was filled with the orchestra, leaving, I felt, very little space for the dancers.
But it was truly amazing how they managed to utilise that little space to dance and tell a story of the 30s Depression and the mafia rise of Chicago, coming and going with minimal props to tell the story of how women are driven to murder.
What actually came home to me was that Hindi movies have long been pilloried for song and dance. Once upon a time 10-12 songs were not considered unusual for a film. Then came the vilification of Hindi cinema for its musical slant and the music content has slumped to remixes.
Chicago was just like a Hindi movie; except that it was being performed live on a stage with the dancers who also sang, walking on and off the stage for more than three hours and almost a dozen songs. The only thing that was different was the amount of skin being exposed!! A fraction of that would have our moral brigades out in full force, after frothing at the mouth over “choli ke peechhe kya”.

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Dubai has been a different experience after decades in Ahmedabad, despite the climatic similarity. It is hot and often humid. But there it ends. The sand has been kept at bay and the buildings rise tall and high and coolly conditioned to keep the heat at bay.
What is happening in Ahmedabad now somehow makes me feel that the master planner has visited Dubai several times and seen how and what is happening and tried to do some hotchpotch replication.
The malls, the multiplexes, the blossoming of all sorts of eateries, ala Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.
It is all very nice and modern and impersonal. May be Ahmedabad should retain its inner city as the personal, intimate connection with the past, while letting the outer cities grow up as global villages.
Roots are basic to growth and without them the tree may just wither away. So let Ahmedabad retain its roots, please. Is anyone listening?

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