Cultural Insourcing

Bombay Dreams, a play I first saw in London, has finally made it to America.

Call it outsourcing. Just as major financial institutions and computer corporations have exported jobs to India, that is where Lloyd Webber found a way of recycling the hoariest of plotlines and romantic cliches to give them currency and political correctness. [...]

The hero is Akaash (Manu Narayan), an "untouchable" from the slums. (Will there be a caste party after the premiere?) In the course of half an act, he decides to save his endangered neighborhood from predatory developers by becoming a movie star and buying the whole area himself, he forgets his roots, falls in love with his producer's daughter, gets romantically involved with Bollywood's biggest sex symbol star (played by Ayesha Dharker, the only holdover from the London production) and discovers that evildoers are afoot among the forces gentrifying old Bombay. Oh, yes, and Sweetie, a transsexual eunuch, is in love with him. There are numerous dance numbers. Big ballads. Betrayal. Revelation. Redemption.

No one would have the audacity to mount such a show, with its unabashed sentimentality and well-trod romantic conventions, if it were set in modern New York or London or Hollywood. But Bollywood? That's another story. Anything goes, and it generally all goes at the same time.

Contrary to proclamations from the bien-pensant, markets allow cultures to mix and flourish, rather than decay and vanish.

Share this