Sydney-based Swastik Productions stages one of the most successful shows, Taj Mahal: A Timeless Love Story, at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta
Dazzling costumes, sweeping dance performances, foot-tapping music and a tale of love as immortal as time itself brought Taj Mahal: A Timeless Love Story to life at Sydney’s Riverside Theatre in Parramatta on the eve of Diwali this year.
Featuring spellbinding sets and a cast of more than 120 performers, the show created the 14th-century Mughal empire on stage…. Think chaotic bazaars, regal courtrooms, majestic palaces and stately gardens, complete with fountains and water pools.
At the heart of the production, however, was the story of the Taj Mahal—the events that led to creation of the world’s most magnificent monument. “Love is a very fierce emotion and through this play I wanted to show the full scope of what love can accomplish,” said Sumati Lekhi, the artistic director of Swastik Productions. “In today’s age of instant posts, instant likes and instant everything, I feel the true meaning of love is lost on most people. But through the story of Taj Mahal I wanted to show how deep, meaningful and intense love can be, and what it can achieve.”
Everyone is familiar with the iconic façade of the Taj Mahal; some even know the story of Mumtaz Mahal—the empress of Hindustan—in whose memory her husband, the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, built the Taj Mahal. “But there’s more to this tragic tale of love and loss than meets the eye,” says Sydney-based Kunal Mirchandani, the co-director, co-producer and scriptwriter of the play. (Article continued after gallery)
“This play brought to life a vibrant chapter of India’s history, showcasing three generations of Mughal emperors and queens. Their intertwined lives and dreams inspired the greatest expression of love that this world has ever seen, the Taj Mahal,” says Mirchandani.
Set in 15th and 16th century India, the play traced three generations of love stories of the Mughal dynasty—the unconventional love between Hindu princess Jodha and Muslim emperor Akbar; the tragic tale of rebellious prince Salim and court dancer Anarkali; and the eternal romance of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz, which culminated in the creation of the Taj Mahal.
The first half of the show clearly belonged to Shurobhi Banerjee and Gunjeet Singh Chattha, who portrayed the timeless love story of Jodha and Akbar on stage. Beautifully directed and choreographed, their sword-fight scene was both romantic and humorous in equal measure. (Article continued after gallery)
The second half, on the other hand, brimmed with the tale of Salim and Anarkali, played by Dhruva Thorat and Manasi Kundap. Their young, rebellious love—featuring standout dance performances by Kundap on tracks like ‘Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya’—gave the show its quintessential melodramatic Bollywood moment.
In the end, though, it was the performances delivered by Kristy Gupta (Mumtaz) and Satish Kala (Shah Jahan) that truly moved the audiences to tears. Mumtaz’s passing away during childbirth and Shah Jahan subsequent grief was poignantly presented on the stage.
Injecting these scenes of love, humour and grief were about a dozen dance performances, created by different choreographers at Swastik Productions. ‘Mohe Rang Do Laal’, ‘Azeem-O-Shan Shehanshah’ and ‘Khalbali’ were some of the most stellar performances of the night. A truly spectacular show, all in all.
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