Shilpa Shetty has been touring Europe and is now playing in theaters all across the UK in her musical extravaganza Miss Bollywood. The tour started in Germany and though well received it did have a bit of a rough start technically. However, that is what touring dates are for to get out the kinks and make sure the costumes arrive on time before you play the West End or Broadway. So far, audiences all over have really enjoyed their night at the theater and many of them have cheered at the end. Shilpa has been praised by the critics but in some reviews they have not been as kind to the show itself. We thought we would bring you some of the reviews from critics and fans alike.
When the show was in Berlin fans went crazy and according to Neeta Lulla, “I knew Shilpa was a well-known face internationally, but I didn’t anticipate this. When she arrived on stage, all hell broke loose.” Lulla designed all of Shilpa’s 15 incredible costumes for the show.
Next we have a comment from an audience member who saw the show in Germany and he also got to meet Shilpa backstage. He posted this on his blog: “If you live in Germany, go and watch the show “Miss Bollywood – The Musical”. It’s awesome, it’s fun, it’s great entertainment! All dancers are great. I have to admit I never watched any Bollywood movie, yet, and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like the show that much. But little did I know – it was not only Hindi sounds, but European music, too.” ~ Steffen Nork
One review gave Shilpa thumbs up but the script thumbs down. Shelina Begum said in her review: “Shilpa Shetty looked amazing in her glittery costumes and she sure knows how to move from doing classical Bharatnatyam and then alternating to modern chart topping dance movements.”
She added, “But the downside, and yes there is a huge one, and that was the faltering story that we had to watch. Though there were many intervals with music and dance, which kept the audience entertained and awake, the actual story could have easily been put together by some ten-year-old at primary school, though a ten-year-old I think could have done a much better job.”
The critic did love the climax of the show and said, “The last 20 minutes of the show had me tapping my feet and wanting to get up and dance and guess what I even got to do that when the dancers jumped into the aisles getting the audience out of their chairs to groove along to ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ taken from the film of the same name.”
On the web page Punjab 2000 one reviewer wrote, “Bollywood actress and screen icon, Shilpa Shetty, made a spectacular UK stage debut with her captivating musical, Miss Bollywood, on Saturday 3rd November at the Opera House, Manchester, where her dazzling performance was received by a standing ovation from the full house audience. Shilpa Shetty brought the full grandiose of Bollywood cinema to the stage, in one of the most lavish stage productions of the year, winning over audiences with a mesmerizing performance that recaptured the magic of some of Bollywood’s greatest hits of the past 40 years, and wowing the packed out Opera House in one of 2007’s most eagerly awaited stage shows.”
In a review by Andrew Edwards on the British Theatre Guide web page he praised the show and especially Miss Shetty. “Shilpa Shetty has been a big star in India for fourteen years and shines brightly in this jolly fusion of Eastern and Western dance and musical theatre styles.” He went on to praise the cast saying, “Added to the mix is some well delivered physical comedy from neighbors Hasmukhlal and Mansukhlal and his very wise eight year old daughter Shruti and you have the recipe for a very entertaining evening in the theatre. The Bollywood style dances by top Indian film choreographer Ganesh Hegde were more successful than the Western style but all had a certain pzazz and energy. The forty talented dancers were clearly enjoying what they were giving.”
Adding, “The story is rather slight and pantomimic at times. It is a version of the standard boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again but is held together by the principals and, in particular, Shilpa Shetty. The work she has put in to make the transition from film star to stage performer really paid off. She received a rapturous reception and, to the delight of the audience, traded on her more recent press coverage. She included a joke about not being too goody goody and another about dreaming she was just to be kissed by Richard Gere.”
Another fan wrote, “I saw it in Berlin, We all enjoyed it very much. We all loved the way Shilpa danced. The crowd all got up and clapped when it’s almost the end. Everyone loved the show. It is truly spectacular.”
“Just saw Shilpa’s musical, all I can say it’s totally BRILLIANT, Shilpa is so beautiful, excellent dancing skill, she is very talented, I just love the hold show, I highly recommend to ones who is not sure about it. After the show fans can get to meet Shilpa and get her autograph,” said another audience member.
The Manchester Evening news gave it 3 stars and Kevin Bourke said, “The good news is that the last twenty minutes or so of this Bollywood-on-stage fantasy are fantastic fun and you’ll go out dancing into the night.
But – and it’s a big but – the build-up to that warm-hearted explosion of energy and exuberance can feel a bit too much like hard work, even for an audience who love its star Shilpa Shetty, whether from her mishaps in that TV house of horrors or from her actual Bollywood stardom.” He again faults the story and says, “It’s a silly fable, of course, but that wouldn’t matter a jot if the dance sequences were as exciting as they could have been. Unfortunately, until that final sequence, they’re mostly just set to soppy pop tunes and so the show simply fails to live up to its promise.”
Two audience members at the show in Manchester gave the production 4 stars and said: “Went to see the show on Sunday night and the story was a bit flimsy and some of the scenes a little bit strange and uncertain. It was also a little bit disappointing that there really wasn’t any live music rather that there was a lot of miming to hit Indian film songs… in essence you may have a better time playing loud Bollywood music like ‘Kajra Re’ and ‘Beedi’ in your bedroom and dancing in front of the mirror. However, the last 20 minutes were excellent especially after the cast jumped into the audience and got people dancing… the hit music thereafter came at an electric pace, the dancing was fevered and the audience loved it… You do leave the Opera House singing songs that maybe should have been there but weren’t like It’s The Time To Disco but you do go away relatively happy! All in all, it was just like watching a Bollywood movie live (without the sub-titles) but a lot of money to pay for a great last 20 minutes!!”
Another person agreed saying, “Really enjoyed the show it was a great night out from the dancing, light hearted story with lots of humour, some beautiful costumes, good music and lighting.”
One review in the Times Online did give the show only 1 star and said, “Shetty certainly looks stunning, her body all muscular femininity, skin and hair gleaming. Her first appearance – in a midriff-revealing orange outfit – prompted whoops of excitement but when she wasn’t undulating her killer curves, impatient shuffling and muttering set in. Anyone who wasn’t paying attention between numbers – a selection of hits from Bollywood movies – didn’t miss much,The dancers are mechanical, the script diabolical, the acting amateurish and the costumes look nastily cheap. It all lacks brio and excitement; and though she is elegant to the last, Shetty alone isn’t enough to make it worthwhile.”
However, several theater patrons in response to this review wondered if he saw the same show they did and questioned his knowledge of Bollywood. “I saw this show on Sunday in Manchester and noticed no impatient shuffling or muttering between dances. The show was fun, everyone dancing in the aisles and singing along to the classic Bollywood tunes. Yes the story was weak but most people went there expecting a song and dance spectacular which is exactly what Miss Shetty and her cast delivered,” wrote M Singh. And another said, “I also saw this show on Sunday and wonder whether the journalist above maybe walked into a parallel universe? Because the show I watched was thoroughly enjoyable, the costumes were fab and the dance routines did not disappoint. The only ‘muttering’ I heard from the audience were the whoops of recognition of the songs from the girls sitting next to me! I have never been to a show with such a great atmosphere, the dancing in the aisles being the icing on the cake. And so what if there was the odd reference to Shilpa’s recent headlines!… even Shakespeare used that trick to appeal to all of his audience!”
Finally, on The Stage website which is a magazine for theater professionals and read by theatre aficionados the musical got a very good review:
“Looking beautiful and moving with graceful ease, Shetty leads a cast of 40 dancers who perform a plethora of visually-exciting pieces, involving 12 glamorous costume changes for the star. The choreography, danced to recorded music, captures an eclectic mix of styles, concluding with a 20-minute tribute to Bollywood’s greatest hits.
Not so much a musical, more a dance spectacle, the only drama comes from the unwelcome advances of a predatory producer, so this is really a triumph of spectacle over substance.
But, it doesn’t pretend to be any more than an example of how cultural diversity can be demonstrated in an entertaining way and proves that dance speaks an international language understood by everyone.”
The musical is continuing its tour around the UK and winds up with performances at the Royal Albert Hall in London on December 12th!