Dubai: Jaan-e-Jigar, the spectacular Broadway-style Bollywood musical running at the Rajmahal Theatre in Bollywood Parks Dubai has been winning rave reviews from everyone who has seen it.
The musical extravaganza, which made its debut in the region with the opening of the park last November, explores a larger than life world, full of magic, drama, music, dance, colour and all things Bollywood. It is strung together with a number of hit songs and an original soundtrack created by famed music director Pritam Chakraborty.
The story line resembles a typical 70s’ good vs evil flick of two brothers – Jaan and Jigar – separated at birth only to be reunited by a twist of fate years later.
“The response to the show has been overwhelming. We were confident it would be a hit,” said Jason Ramsburg – Director of Entertainment, Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR).
As much as it is about the song and dance, Jaan-e-Jigar is also about the extravagant sets designed by Omung Kumar of Black and Saawariya fame. There are seven in all and together with a number of props, 3D LED screens, they make for a glitzy glamour musical. Special effects used in the show are of such high standards they must be seen to be believed.
Here we speak to five of the key characters in the show:
Marjaani, the treacherous sister
Played by Ritu Sharma (30)
Her first run as Marjani, the treacherous sister of Salamat, the King of Ishqabad was an astounding hit at the Rajmahal theatre. “I was very nervous. I had been practising for the role since a couple of months and one day the director came up to me and said I was to take the stage that evening as Marjani [being a daily show, more than one actor is trained for one role]. I was nervous but something took over me when I went on stage – I became Marjani. I could sense how the audience reacted to every move, every gesture I made. I loved it. Marjani is a dark character yet people love her,” said Sharma, a graduate of National School of Drama, who has acted in a number of television serials and Bollywood films.
Challenge of playing Marjaani: “One of the main challenges is the voice modulation I need to keep up throughout. My voice has to be loud and shrill and I have to be able to reach out to the audience especially to those sitting at far end of the theatre.”
Best thing about her character: “The madness, the passion with which she goes after whatever she wants. It is a negative role but a very interesting one”.
Jaanbaaz, the hero
Played by Yogendra Vikram Singh (28)
A graduate of the Film and Television Institute of Pune (FTI), Singh first auditioned for his role as Shahzade Jaanbaaz, one of the sons of King Salamat in February 2016. I also came to Mumbai for a second round of auditions and a few months later I was selected to play both Jaanbaaz and Jigar. I am the only one who plays two roles in the musical – Jaan and Jigar. I switch roles every week.”
Challenge of playing Jaanbaaz: Me role requires me to do a lot of daredevil acts for which I had to undergo training. We had a stunt director fly in from abroad to teach us the fight scenes. Our practice sessions would go on for at least 10 hours and one day it went up to 16.”
Best thing about the character: Jaanbaaz is the hero and the audience loves him.
Jigar Shiraz, the good-hearted Casanova
Played by Manish Ghulati (26)
Jigar is a character full of life, but Manish Ghulati is no less. “My journey has been quite amazing. I graduated in media and mass communication. I did many television projects including being part of the creative team of Emotional Atyachar Season 3. Then I was introduced to Kingdom of Dreams, a musical play in Delhi. There has been no looking back since.”
Challenge of playing Jigar: “I was initially preparing to do Jaanbaaz. But when I was given the role of Jigar I had to break my shackles to get into the skin of the character. Jigar is a good-hearted Casanova. He is full of life and flirting with women all the time. I had to tweak my personality to suit the role. The other challenge was getting fit and building muscles. I was skinny when I auditioned but Jigar is robust and I had to train to get fit for the fighting scenes.
Best thing about the character:
The fact that I can flirt with girls on stage and backstage.
Nashooq, the modern Shakuni
Played by Ajay Sharma (35)
Ajay Sharma is a post graduate in theatre from Kurukshetra University. He has worked in Crime Patrol, an Indian TV series, and Bollywood flick Nautanki Saala among others.
Challenge of playing Nashooq:
Playing the role of a physically challenged person is tough. I have to stay hunched for long periods of time. I wear a wig and prosthetics on the face. After the show when I am home I have to do a lot of stretching so my back does not hurt. But I love such demanding roles.
Best thing about the character: He is the modern Shakuni, but with a twist. He is the master-mind behind every move by Marjani whom he loves and does everything to make her happy until he finds out her deception.
Jugnu, the loyal guardian
Played by Hem Shankar (32)
Shankar was 18 when he got to play Othello in Delhi. Since then he has done 50 plays, 12 of which have been directed by him.
Challenge of playing Jugnu: Nothing really. I am totally in synch with my character.
Best thing about his character: Jugnu is like Chanakya, making important policy decisions. He is a wizard and a magician. He is the king’s loyal servant and till the end supports his shehzaades (sons). All he wants is peace and love in the Ishqabad kingdom.