Bharati has become a real tradition in Paris. Since the success of the movie Devdas in 2006, this Musical Indian show has moved into the Palais des Congrès every year with its dozens of dancers, its Hindi film covers and its colourful costumes.
Yesterday night, I attended the Première of this new series of shows. It was the first time. Some of my India-loving friends had told it was only made of clichés and that the cover versions were not sung very well. Actually, this show is very good quality but it is just a kind of long commercial for an idealized and caricatural country. So, when you’ve been in Indian stuff for several years, seeing Bharati is not an amazing discovery and watching the film Kabhi khushi kabhi gham again at home could be better.
All the Indian clichés are elegantly but superficially presented in this show: yoga, ayurvedic medecine, Bollywood, the Ganges, Krishna, Holi, coconut breaking and of course the wedding at the end! But these themes are never developed to learn something significant about India. What is Bharati’s future husband doing on the Ganges? Why is this river sacred? Krishna and Radha appear once or twice in their lovely costumes; who are they? What is their story?
Of course, the highlights of this show, the reason why one should go and see it, are the choreographies, the excellent dancers in their colourful costumes. Obviouly, the songs, -modern Bollywood covers-, are short enough not to make the audience bored. And obviously, at the end, this same kind audience is asked to dance on the last song. By the way, I didn’t expect the audience to be so passive during the show. I thought it would have been like a kind of fiesta with people dancing and singing all along. But unfortunately it wasn’t. Despite of this, people seemed very pleased while leaving the concert hall and many of them felt like dancing.
To conclude, this show doesn’t depict authentical India but India as the French expect her to be. It reminded me of this film by Gurinder Chadha, Bride and Prejudice which seemed so tasteless to me, so sweetened, so western-oriented. Certainly a lovely and sweet promotion to attract Europeans to Gold Triangle-Package Tours.
I can’t leave you without letting you know this story told during the show by the French-speaking hoster:
One day, Prakash went to a famous ashram and the guru taught him that God was in everything and every creature. Prakash was very happy to know that and took the lotus position to meditate: « Om! » he said. The following day, Prakash was walking on the road when he saw a huge elephant running towards him. The mahout on the elephant was frantic and shouted at Prakash: « Move aside! Move aside! The elephant has become creasy! I can’t control him anymore! » But Prakash kept on smiling because he knew that God was in everything and every creature: « If God is in everything and in every creature, God is in the elephant too, and God can do no harm to me! » So he sat down in the middle of the road, took the lotus position and started to go: « Om, Om! » What was supposed to happen, happened indeed! The elephant crushed Prakash! When Prakash returned to the ashram, all his bones were broken. He said to the Guru: You told me God is in every creature! But the elephant crushed me! » The Guru answered: « God was in the elephant indeed, but He was also in the mahout who was telling you to move aside! »