Glamorous stage show The Merchants of Bollywood originated from the family history of its choreographer.

The result is a high-energy whirlwind musical - in true Bollywood style - told against a historical background, which will grace the stage for the first time in Tauranga next month.

The Merchants of Bollywood tells the story of a family dynasty who hold the responsibility of upholding the ancient traditions of the Kathak dance, the dance of the gods. Shantilal Merchant is the last in the line of gurus and this tradition is about to die out.

Creative producer Mark Brady came up with the original concept, which was written by Toby Gough.


Brady says they were looking for a story and spent a lot of time with Vaibhavi Merchant, who was the granddaughter of the late Shri B Hiralal, one of the founders of the golden age of Bollywood.

Vaibhavi is a successful Indian director of choreography who has worked on numerous Bollywood films. "Her family history captured my interest, it became very apparent that their family were very connected with the Hindu film industry and I decided, 'that's the key, that's where we are going to take this'."

Main character Ayesha Merchant, based on Vaibhavi, is played by Carol Furtado. Ayesha is a young girl with a traditional village upbringing who has big Bollywood dreams.

"She possesses the courage to defy convention and pursue her dreams. She is also talented enough to become the reigning queen of choreography in Bollywood all on her own merit.

"But she's also like her grandfather - she too grows disillusioned with the industry as she realised how commercial it's become. She too finds fulfilment and peace upon returning to her roots."

The Merchants of Bollywood features a cast of more than 40 performers direct from film city Mumbai - the home of Bollywood cinema.

Dance scenes are choreographed by Vaibhavi herself, who still sometimes tours with the show. Vaibhavi's choreography incorporates many styles of Indian dancing including folklore from Rajasthan and contemporary forms such as disco.

Among the glitz and glamour and riot of colour will be 1200 eye-catching costumes, and no less than 5000 pieces of glistening jewellery to catch the light from all directions.

The music is by award-winning composers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant (no relation).

Brady says to expect "high energy music with wall-to-wall dance".

"It has great acting and it's a beautiful story. This will be a visual feast for the audience, it will appeal to anyone who is interested in dance and culture."

This will be the first in a four-part concert series by Baypark. The series will cater to the family and mature market and sees Baypark adopting a more proactive approach to sourcing high-quality concert acts, says business development manager Gillian Houser.

"By actively searching out these performers, making contact with the artists and their agents we have secured a diverse range of entertainment such as The Merchants of Bollywood," says Houser.

"These are the sort of quality entertainers that we aim to bring to Tauranga and reinforce Baypark as the hub of entertainment in the Bay of Plenty," she says.

The Merchants of Bollywood has been seen by more than two million people across 20 countries.

the fine print
What: The Merchants of Bollywood
When: Tuesday, October 23
Where: ASB Baypark Arena