”˜Foreign Star of Bengal’ ”“ an excellent locally produced play

By Manju Mittal

A musical romance drama ”˜Foreign Star of Bengal’ was held at Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th  February 2019. The play written by Arvind Baswan, who stole the show not only as producer but as an actor as well.   Other actors did equally well in this touching tale. It was a pleasure to watch this flawless drama with a great message in the end.

‘Foreign Star of Bengal’ is a stage musical inspired by a true story act in Calcutta during the 1960’s. A love story following an Armenian girl and a Bengali boy who fell in love four decades ago, depicting the cultural diversity and the frictions that enrich the lives of individuals from two very different backgrounds. Performed in English this is a story that embodies a tale of love and courage, intertwined with music, dance and drama with a range of musical flashbacks that were a thrill to watch.

It is about Samir, a young architect who lands in Calcutta to restore a heritage Armenian building. There he gets acquainted with an elderly music teacher, an Armenian lady in her 60’s. Every day Samir notices young children rushing into her apartment to sing and dance. One day he notices children going back unhappy, on enquiring he finds her ill in her apartment and nurses her back to health. He asks her why she lives alone; she starts to reveal her story. The story discovers an unlikely mix that has not been explored before, highlighting the cultural diversity, the frictions and the lives of the individuals that inhabit the city. It is a story that embodies a tale of music, love and pain of longing between individuals set apart by physical distance.

It was an evening worth witnessing of theatre, to which the director Shabnam  said, “The world of theatre keeps drawing me back, after success with co-directing a hit stage musical and now the opportunity to direct Bollywood Central’s ‘Foreign Star of Bengal’. Of course, I could not resist performing in it. Bringing to life charming characters, in a fun masala infused Bollywood tale, and collaborating with highly talented local and international artists and crew has been a delight.”

Producer and actor Arvind Baswan said, “Foreign Star of Bengal has been an amazing journey staring in 2015, when my friend Samimitra Das coined the story till its final draft in 2018.  It is also our solo production, which has offered various challenges along with numerous wins such as our lovely title track ”˜Mera Dil’ written and sung by our resident song writer Gagan. We are on a mission to bring beautiful and diverse culture of India and South Asia to our global audiences. ”˜Foreign Star of Bengal’ is one such story I sincerely thank our audiences and sponsors for their support and their motivation”.

It was indeed a stupendous production. Director of the Play Shabnam Tavakol made this seemingly impossible dream a reality and put it all together into a finest stage experience. All the actors deserve an applaud with outstanding performance.

The highlight of the play is the dance sequences by the very talented dancer, actor and director Shabnam Tavakol. The live performances of Devdas, Umrao Jaan and Mughal-e-Azam’s hit song, the evergreen ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’. 

As the play runs for two and half hours with one interval and we slowly move through the stages where we flow from dialogues to capturing the wry humour. 

Bollywood Central Team

A must watch musical drama for every Bollywood lover, ”˜Foreign Star of Bengal’ was brought to Sydney by Bollywood Central. Both Arvind and Ravi surprised all with their maturity in producing the play and an excellent effort by a local director as well as actors. Credit goes to them to have brought quality stage play for theatre lovers who enjoy real theatre in today’s digital age

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