A.R. Rahman to stage Broadway-style musical in India

By Dipankar De Sarkar

London, Feb 12 (IANS) Music composer A.R. Rahman, making a self-confessed "U-turn" after his success with the "Lord of the Rings" musical on London's West End, is now planning to bring a mega Broadway-style musical to India.

"Yes, it will be very soon," Rahman said at the Jet Airways-sponsored gala launch of the "Lord of the Rings" compact disc in London Monday.

Rahman said his plan is to create an original musical play - of the kind seen in London and New York - to be put up on an Indian stage, most probably in Haryana, near Delhi.

The staging will hinge on plans by Indian events management and entertainment company Wizcraft to develop an entire town near Delhi, patterned after Las Vegas, Rahman told IANS in an interview.

"There will be a big theatre, that's all good news. It's good to see people opening up," he said.

Although Rahman is keeping his plans tightly wrapped, it is aimed at linking Indian tourism with a modern musical stage, just as London's West End attracts millions of international tourists.

"A lot of things are too early to say, let's hope for the best."

Whether the original musical will be on the scale of London's musicals remains to be seen - Rahman himself prefers something on the scale of "Lion King", based on a popular Disney film.

"Lord of the Rings", the most expensive West End production, is an eye-popping spectacular that cost 12 million pounds (about Rs.950 million) to put up. On any given night there are 226 people - from computer programmers to actors - involved in the show, which brings British author J.R.R Tolkien's fantasy epic to life.

But Rahman, who has breathed life into the cult classic with his music, said he has made a "u-turn" after his stint with West End and Hollywood - he scored the music for "Elizabeth: the Golden Age" - and is now looking at India.

"I've been given great respect in India. It's time for me to give back," he said in the interview.

His biggest projects at the moment are his music production company K.M. Music and a music school that he launched in Chennai on his birthday, Jan 6.

Looking at India again, he said, has had "a liberating effect" on him.

With American and British musician-friends ready to fly to India to help with his project, Rahman said his school is designed to teach "the minutiae" of music to young Indians, adding: "That's what every kid wants to do - learn music the right away.

"Some of this stuff is beyond money - it's about changing people's perspective on things. This can only be done if you have a musical vision. It might not give instant gratification, but in the long run it's going to help shape up a lot of things."

The launch of the CD Monday night was a gala affair led by Raja Segran, Jet Airways regional vice-president for Britain, Europe and Americas.

Drawing a parallel between the "Jet experience" and the show, Segran said both were known for their "quality, innovation and the fact they take people on a magical experience".

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