Theatre

Magical journeys

All for the stage: Shruti Merchant. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: mail picture_grkrm

She's made stars like Rani Mukherjee, Shahid Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Aamir Khan and Kajol dance to her tunes while assisting her sister Vaibhavi. Now 26-year-old Shruti Merchant, is all set to fly solo, with her directorial theatre debut “Taj Express”.

Choreography is nothing new to her. After all she's renowned choreographer B. Hiralal's granddaughter and Vaibhavi Merchant's sister. “Whatever I am is because of my grandfather and my sister. His work has been an extremely strong influence on my sister and me. My sister's training also helped me immensely,” says Shruti.

Sensing her inclination for the performing arts Shruti's mother let her learn Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Western dance. After college Shruti started working with her sister Vaibhavi. “I assisted my sister in various movies like ‘Baghban', ‘Meenakshi', ‘Rang de Basanti', ‘Krish', ‘ Aaja Nachle', ‘No Entry', ‘Veer Zaara', ‘Bunty aur Babli', ‘Lakshya', ‘ Fanaa', ‘Dhoom'... This was a great learning opportunity for me.”

She also confesses wanting to choreograph Madhuri Dixit who she finds enigmatic. Someday she plans to add some Indian spice to Hollywood movies with some jhatkas. “I would love to do Romeo Juliet on Broadway with an Indian touch,” says Shruti.

Memorable moments

While there were many memorable moments during this time, her all-time favourite memory is the premiere night of “The Merchants of Bollywood” in Amsterdam. “Before the show we realised that none of the costumes had arrived. Well, ‘the show must go on' and our show did. The cast and crew got all the old costumes out within a few hours and performed in front of a full house. That was one of the most magical shows and the audience were just fantastic,” she recalls nostalgically.

Shruti's journey to big time incidentally began with “Merchants of Bollywood” (MOB) for which she was associate choreographer. After two years of assisting Vaibhavi, Shruti took on “MOB” and was involved in the pre-production too, as the story revolved round that of her grandfather and sister.

First step

“I could not have asked for a better start for my first step in theatre training. For five years I toured with the show, travelled all around the world, worked with stage experts, met people from across the globe and learnt a lot. This is when I realised that theatre is where my heart lies. The theatre culture overseas is missing in our country,” says Shruti firmly.

She has now started her own company Quintessence Entertainment Productions, which has produced “Taj Express”, a modern day love story of a journey through India. An extraordinary story of an ordinary thief served with the flavour of the famous Indian nautanki is what the audience will see while on board the “Taj Express”. “Our musical has an original script, a beautiful compilation of folk and Indian music, a cast of 45 dancers and actors around 800 costumes and 1000 pieces of Indian jewellery to transport the audience to the world on the stage and to satisfy all three requisites: good music, spectacular sets and most important the soulful journey of love,” says Shruti.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 12:08:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/magical-journeys/article2455422.ece

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