Monday, November 02, 2009

Japan jives to Jai Ho!

They are young and love music. They’re in tune with the times and want their melodies to be heard. They love Rajnikant, A R Rahman and 
Bollywood, and their latest project is called India Dreams.

Except for the fact that Kyoko Ikeya, Yusuke Yanai and Shuhei Narumi can speak little English, no Hindi and hail from Japan, you might easily be led to believe they belong to Youngistan.

But such is the effect of Indian music, say these musicians, who have travelled from Japan to perform at a Japanese restaurant, ai. Kyoko, the female vocalist, says, “Indian music is so full of energy that no one can escape it. Also, the scale at which Bollywood performs is phenomenal.”

The extravagance of Bollywood and its infectious melody has not only got the Japanese in raptures but the entire world. The famous ‘Jai Ho’ number in Slumdog Millionaire is only one example. Author, playwright and scriptwriter Anuvab Pal who is working on a book about the “seminal influence” of the movie Disco Dancer on Bollywood, says that some ideas in Bollywood are so unique that their appeal is wide.

“There was something about Indian filmdom in the 1980s, its notions of spectacle and movie making. In many ways, the ideas in Shaan, Mr India and Disco Dancer were so imaginative and extraordinary, that their appeal has become global.”

While dancers in Beijing are jiving to the beats of Bollywood, dance studios and gyms in Silicon Valley are grooving to filmi numbers to keep fit. Even international reality shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Superstars of Dance are waking up to Indian dance and music, to Bollywood in particular, earning choreographers like Nakul Dev Mahajan the title of ‘Hollywood’s best Bollywood choreographer’.

Shuhei Narumi, the pianist, in the Japanese band, says what fascinates him about India is that people here are always smiling. Which is why he believes that not only will Indians like the band’s attempt at Bollywood numbers, they will also appreciate Japanese music.

Says Yusuke Yanai, the male vocalist: “We have dreamt about this place and India Dreams is our interpretation of these dreams. Hopefully, we will be able to make you dream about Japan.”

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