The Bollywood connection

The Bollywood connection

Did you know that 2011 is the Year of India in Canada? The aim is "to highlight India’s culture, traditions and diversity, and celebrate the contributions of the Indian diaspora to Canadian society."

Many events are happening in relation to that goal throughout the year, one of which is a show happening this Friday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Concordia’s Oscar Peterson Hall (7141 Sherbrooke West). It will notably feature dancers from the Kadamb School of Dance and Music, an institution started in 1967 by renowned dancer and choreographer Kumudini Lakhia, who is credited with having rejuvenated the classical kathak dance form, which is traditionally performed solo, through the introduction of group choreographies.

Also on the bill are Rajan and Sajan Mishra, world-famous vocalists who’ve been blessed by Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music and the arts, with an extraordinary skill for singing ragas in harmony. "When we sing, we are one soul singing, even though we are in two bodies," they once said.

If you want to celebrate Indian culture some more, you can start by checking the movie listings. Unbeknownst to many, new Bollywood movies open in Montreal every other week, generally at the AMC Forum 22. Generally without publicity or media coverage, these films still attract quite a bit of people from the local Indian community. And just like Bollywood flicks tend to cover all the bases by blending romance, broad comedy, melodrama, musical numbers and more, the audiences that go see them are wonderfully diverse, including folks of every age group, from little kids to grandparents.

You should also make a trip to Manoranjan Center, a little shop located in the back of the Marché Priyanka (808 Jean-Talon West) where J.S. Bhandari presides over the biggest selection of Bollywood DVDs, CDs and posters in the city. When I talked to him, he told me about how, 15 or 25 years ago, not that many people outside of India were into Bollywood. "But since the last 10 years, Bollywood is now getting better known within the international community. Many people are going to India, where you still find classical dances and classical concerts, which is keeping the tradition [alive]," he says. "Plus due to the Internet, people get to know all about India, especially in the music field; that’s why it’s getting more popular."

As a member of the India-Canada Association of Montreal, Bhandari was involved with bringing Kumudini Lakhia’s Kadamb Kathak Group and the Mishra brothers up here this week. He’s been telling a lot of people about it and getting a very positive response. "We want non-Indians get to know the traditional culture of India, that’s why we’re bringing the heritage of India to Canada."

IF LOOKS CAN KILL…THEY WILL!

Sometimes it takes only a few words to grab your attention: "murder mystery burlesque show." What’s not to like about that? Coming from the folks at Glam Gam Productions, a local burlesque troupe that was recently involved with the organization of the Montreal Slutwalk, If Looks Can Kill…They Will! is a play in which the audience is invited to help Sherlock Homo solve a murder and possibly win a "slutty prize." Bringing together people of a variety of genders, sexual orientations, backgrounds and body sizes, the show is being described as part theatre, part comedy and part burlesque. At Café Cléopâtre, August 19 to 21 (doors 8:30, showtime 9:30). Two dollars off admission if you bring a non-perishable food donation for youth health organization Head & Hands. www.glamgam.com

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