Actor Ayub Khan-Din Takes to stage for Bollywood play

Mumbai, June 29 (IANS) British Pakistani actor-writer Ayub Khan-Din who shot to international fame playing the lead in "My Beautiful Laundrette" and "Sami & Rosie Get Laid", is back directing a play about Bollywood called "Bunty Berman Presents".

However Ayub is quick to point out that the play is not really a celebration of the song-and-dance formula that Bollywood is famous for. He celebrates another kind of Bollywood in the play, thereby creating a confusion among critics.

"The reviews are mixed. Critics in the West are much more comfortable with Indian actors on stage in colourful costumes doing 'Bollywood'. I'm not interested in that. Even when I try to explain that 'Bollywood' is a derogatory term to Indian film makers, unfortunately they see it as a catch-all phrase for the Indian cinema," says the actor-director-writer.

Ayub says "Bunty Berman Presents" is a homage to all his childhood Hollywood and Broadway influences, as too all the Hindi films he grew up watching.

"The style of the show definitely reflects my personal cultural influences. So if people think they're coming to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams they will be very wrong. It's more 'Singing in the monsoon or the Marx Brothers in Bombay than anything else," he said.

The play is about a Bollywood producer in the 1950s falling on hard times.

Ayub said: "'Bunty Berman Presents' is a musical set in a failing Bombay film studio in 1957. Bunty's films aren't doing well and he loses his financial backing. His overweight ageing hero and friend, Raj Dhawan, is not pulling in the audiences and decides to vanish for the sake of the studio. Bunty is forced to accept the help of a notorious gangster Shankar Dass."

Ayub had to play the lead in his play at the last minute after the original actor Erick Avari was injured.

"The week before we opened we lost our leading actor. So I had to step up to the crease and take over the role. My first time on stage in 22 years! Daunting with only six days' rehearsal and never having sung in front of an audience before.But I'm having a whale of a time," he said.

Ayub is now working on adapting the well-known E.R.Braithwaite novel "To Sir With Love" to the stage.

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