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The theatre miracle that was Bottoms Up

Saturday, 28 June 2014 - 6:00am IST Updated: Friday, 27 June 2014 - 10:02pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

“There are those who accept situations and those who rise to change them”

We talked about my taking Parsi theatre to the mainstream, my challenging the notion that Parsi plays were only comedies, my breaking the fallacy that English theatre was elitist and only for the chosen few, resulting in my building a regular weekend English theatre audience, offering a whole new opportunity to so many new producers, directors, actors, as well as my commitment in staging plays with social messages, plays which ‘had to be done’. Finally my foray into musical theatre.Going one up on my theatrical pusuit was going to be tough but you need a Burjor to trump a Burjor.

I wanted to stir up a storm in the theatre world again. I wanted to create a theatre experience without language boundaries for all audiences whether their spoken language was English, Gujarati, Marathi or Hindi.

I don’t recall how and where I first met Bharat Dabholkar, the genius copywriter of Da Cunha Advertising.We started discussing how we could overcome the language barrier and bring in audiences from all walks of life under one roof to enjoy a play. Little did we realise what we were up to. But over countless cups of tea and months of writing and rewriting, the perfect script was born.We invited perfomers from across theatre to join us and assembled a multi-talented team of actors, singers, musicians, dancers et al. We had Atmaram Bhende,Shubha Khote,Viju Khote,Vihang Naik etc from the Marathi stage, my wife Ruby and myself, Madhav Pradhan etc from the the Gujarati stage and Keith Stevenson and Bomi Kapadia from the English stage. Louis Banks composed the music and the dances were choreographed by Karla Singh.The dance team included the then-unknown but now famous Shiamak Davar. Another unknown, Sunita Rao was the singer who later became famous cutting her own albums.We mounted the show with glamourous sets created by Derryck Jefferies. I knew it in my bones that this was a true tour de force and that it would break all barriers and records.

The show titled Bottoms Up under my banner Burjor Patel Productions and written and directed by Bharat Dabholkar created box-office history. Bharat kept on updating the script . Bottoms Up was followed by Son of Bottoms Up, Grandson of Bottoms Up, Best of Bottoms Up etc.The show ran for over 300 performances and broke all box-office records.We are soon bringing back this iconic entertainer with new ‘masala’ to make your oncoming festivals of Diwali and Christmas full of love and laughter.

The show toured all over India and even all the way to Dubai.There were hiccups and heartaches on the way.At our final show in Delhi, Karla Singh’s dancers informed us they were moving out of the show.We were in a quandary since on our return to Mumbai we had shows planned. A fledgling company then called 'Wizcraft' made their professional debut with us with their dance troupe which had an unknown Arshad Warsi as their lead dancer.Today Wizcraft is the toast of Bollywood and Arshad Warsi of  'Munnabhai' fame a popular Bollywood actor.We also lost a dear friend and actor Madhav Pradhan who unfortunately suffered a heart attack on the sets at a performance.

That’s my story for the day.We put Mumbai on stage and took the stage to all of Mumbai.


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