There is just not one, but several reasons to be proud of Aditya Chopra’s musical – Come Fall In Love. It’s the first time an Indian filmmaker is making his debut on Broadway with a Bollywood set-up. The composers are Vishal and Shekhar who are debuting too while Shruti Merchant will do her first Broadway musical as Associate Choreographer. Shoba Narayan in a refreshing turn of events will be seen essaying her ethnicity as Simran for the first time on stage.
The cast of the musical has 30 members, out of which 17 are of South-Asian and Indian- American origin. The cast includes names like Amita Batra, Neha Dharmapuram, Rohit Gijare, Irvine Iqbal, Usman Ali Ishaq, Nika Lindsay, Caleb Mathura, Kinshuk Sen, Meher Mistry, Shoba Narayan, Shahil Patel, Rupal Pujara, Geatali Tampy, Vishal Vaidya, Sonya Venugopal, Bhumit Patel, and Zain Patel – are over the moon for this is the first time in the history of Broadway that such a culturally diverse cast is about to be witnessed.
Several cast members have now shared their joy in being part of this exceptional moment.
Irvine Iqbal, who will be portraying the role of Simran’s father as the turbaned Baldev mentioned, “When the South Asian community is one of the largest ethnic minority groups in the US, why would we not ensure that our theatres reflect this demographic and see that musicals proportionately cast South Asian actors? Isn’t this the world we live in today? It’s increasingly clear that audiences are becoming more diverse and expect to see themselves reflected on our stages”.
Furthermore, he added, “If we don’t see ourselves represented on the stage how can there be any representation? The collective frustration of the American South Asian talent out there comes from not being able to have a meeting or audition to showcase their talents. We are either overlooked, ignored, or simply invisible to many with the ability to affect change.”
Rupal Pujara will be seen playing the role of Simran’s mother onstage, she shared, “I am so grateful to Aditya Chopra for pursuing his long-awaited dream of adapting DDLJ for the stage. Come Fall In Love is updating the beloved classic, DDLJ, by expanding the narrative of its female characters. In this version, Lajjo is not only a devoted wife and mother – but she’s also strong, soulful, and fiercely witty. This production is a step forward for South Asian women. It makes space for more of our stories to be seen by larger audiences.”
Sonya Venugopal and Nika Lindsay, are both honoured to have an opportunity like this where South-Asian talents are being welcomed with open arms.
Sonya shared, “I grew up feeling that authentic representation of South Asian culture was always lacking, and I was always searching for a way to be seen and heard in this industry. I think CFIL allows the audience, and specifically those who are South Asian, to see themselves on that stage. I have never seen, let alone been in a show where at least half of the company is South Asian, so this is a huge milestone.”
While Nika Lindsay added to it by saying, “To be part of a show that is carried by South Asian performers is a true honor. Before working on COME FALL IN LOVE, I had never seen, nor been involved with a production where I saw myself represented on stage at all, much less to the extent that I feel seen with COME FALL IN LOVE. So to be standing alongside sixteen other South Asian artists, telling a story inspired by one of the most beloved films in Indian Cinema, is a dream come true.”
Nika also elaborated on how she never expected, as a brown woman, to be a part of a project where she is considered in the majority. She expressed that it is a groundbreaking move and hopefully opens a lot more gates of opportunity for South Asians both within and outside the industry.
Shoba Narayan who also features in the ensemble cast mentioned, “The fact that we have an Indian musical headed to Broadway feels incredibly personal and monumental to me as an Indian American actor who was raised by Indian immigrant parents, and who loves Bollywood films, Broadway, and Indian fine arts. It’s a great moment of pride to see our Indian culture celebrated and represented so authentically on the world’s biggest stage. This is something I’ve spent my life and career fighting for. Hopefully, this will be the first of many.”
Kinshuk Sen plays the role of Kuljit – Simran’s to-be-husband in the musical, he says, “We have one of the largest South Asian casts I have ever seen on a western stage, that too being guided by a creative team that is also predominantly South Asian. Being from Delhi, but having lived and worked in the US now for almost a decade, I have almost always been the lone person of color, let alone the only Indian person, in every circle I have been a part of. So, to be a part of a team where my voice is being represented and heard, and that too positively and accurately, means the world to me. Our culture is so beautiful and yet, I feel like we have never gotten our due in the west… until now!”
Vishal Vaidya will be seen in the role of Ajit – Kuljit’s dad, he had commented, “As a Gujarati American who grew up dancing Garba, Raas, and Bhangra, I felt I had to leave that part of my identity behind when I pursued musical theatre. But here I am, speaking Gujarati in rehearsals with our brilliant Associate Choreographer, Shruti Merchant, and dancing with the extraordinary company of desi artists in our show. It feels like coming home.”
Neha Dharmapuram shared a sentimental incident that took place when a cast member mentioned to her, she said, “Something that one of my cast members said to me that has stuck with me throughout this whole process is ‘There might be a young South Asian girl in the audience that will discover her dream for the first time tonight. I go to work every day telling myself that by simply showing up for myself and my passions, I might be giving other South Asian creatives the courage to pursue their dreams. Not only that, I hope that watching so many South Asians pursue a career in the arts on one stage will give parents the confidence to support their children in pursuing non-traditional careers.”
Caleb Mathura, another coveted member of the ensemble cast, emphasized how important representation is. He added, “Representation always matters, but its effect is so evident within the Arts. I have met people who have traveled across the country to see this show. Not only are they coming to San Diego as a fan of the film, but as someone who yearns to feel celebrated, embraced, and respected. Our show gives them that feeling. I hope this is only the beginning of telling Indian stories onstage in America.”
From the technician’s team to the cast members – Come Fall In Love is a step ahead to make people more aware of the importance of inclusivity and diversity. It is a diverse celebration of cultural unification that helps in unshackling barriers. The makers have also mentioned a lovely song titled – ‘Love In Every Colour’ that further sheds light on the theme being highlighted.
One of the most reputed theatres in the US – The Old Globe has announced an extension of the said musical on popular demand. The show which started just last week has received a stupendous response from the audience and will now be running till October 23, 2022.