Dieter Goes To Bollywood

Flying 30 German journalists to Mumbai to watch rehearsals suggests Dieter Semmelmann isn’t cutting any corners for the launch of the Indian dance spectacular he’s touring around Europe for the next 10 or 12 months.

The irony is that his Bayreuth-based Semmel Concerts, part of the CTS Medusa Group of promoters, has had to change the name of the show – except in the U.K. – from “The Merchants of Bollywood” to “Bollywood – The Show,” based on the perfectly understandable logic that only a handful of mainland Europeans will have the first idea who “The Merchants” are.

For the benefit of that audience, and probably a massive slice of the U.K. audience as well, the Merchant family is at the heart of the Indian entertainment business and includes one of the founding fathers of Bollywood cinema and also the country’s best-known choreographers and composers.

Hiralalji Merchant was at the forefront of the Indian cinema boom. His granddaughter Vaibhavi, who’s the show’s choreographer, is a household name.

The music was written and arranged by Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, who also wrote the music for “Naach” and “Dhoom,” which have grossed 500 million worldwide ticket sales between them.

The show’s already on sale at Zurich Maag Music Hall, where it will play from September 12th to October 1st, Berlin Admiralspalast October 4-21 and Vienna Stadthalle January 23-28.

The U.K. leg, which is being promoted by Harvey Goldsmith, will be launched at a July 6th press conference at the Indian High Commission in London, includes short residencies in mostly 2,000-capacity venues in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bradford, Cambridge and Cardiff. It finishes with a two-week run at London’s Hammersmith Apollo December 21st to January 7th.

After that, it returns to the GAS territories for shows in Bremen, Basel, Vienna, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich. Semmel’s Christoph Scholz said further shows are being negotiated in Holland, Belgium, France, Scandinavia, Portugal and Spain.

– John Gammon