One of Indian literature's seminal works, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic novella 'Devdas' has influenced many generations of Indian culture. With multiple adaptations on the silver screen, the tragic love story has become an integral part of India's culture.
Now, Indian theatre house AGP World, along with Singapore's Arte Compass and Zee TV APAC are set to bring a Broadway-style rendition of the timeless Indian love saga. ‘Devdas - The Musical’ will get a world premiere from April 21-23, 2023 at the Esplanade Theatre in the Lion City.
The 100-minute multi-starrer explores the saga of star-crossed lovers Devdas and Paro, torn apart by unfortunate circumstances. This iconic tale of love in its purest form has been re-told time and again, the most recent on-screen adaptations being a Bollywood blockbuster movie starring Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan, and Anurag Kashyap's 2009 black comedy vehicle Dev.D.
"There's a lot of passion in it, plus madness so that's a very strong combination. It's going to be a beautiful night as the people of Singapore go through this part of history with us," Aanchal Chauhan, who will be portraying Paro in the production, said.
AGP World's Ashvin Gidwani is the producer of the musical version adapted and directed for stage, with original content that connects with the audience through music, dialogue, dance, and theatrics. Elaborate set designs, vibrant colours, evocative lighting and special effects to recreate the opulence of India’s former capital, Calcutta during the early 1900s.
Speaking about the play, Gidwani expressed his excitement about adapting the timeless tale into a new form.
"Devdas has witnessed several renditions in the Indian cinema, yet there is something about the epic that connects with the audience. We are very excited to be premiering this in front of an international audience for the first time, and Singapore’s diversity and thriving arts community makes it the perfect place to do so,” he said.
The novel, published over 100 years ago, is among one of the most famous love sagas in Indian classical literature.
Eminent British theatre director, writer, actor, and teacher Toby Gough, who previously scripted The 'Merchants of Bollywood', 'Taj Express' and is well-known for devising multi-cultural adaptations of Shakespeare plays, comes on board as the Creative Director for this grand musical which is co-directed by renowned Indian director Ranga Godbole.
The musical stars Bollywood actors such as Sunil Kumar Palwal, Aanchal Chauhan, Bhavna Pani, Jayesh Thakkar and Smita Jaykar, who play key roles in the musical. Adding to the star-studded lineup is Arif Zakaria, who will play the role of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the writer of the classic tale.
The musical is further enriched with songs from the original score of the Bollywood chartbuster movie Devdas, as well as new mesmerising melodies such as Woh Zindagi Hi Kya, Shyam Tore Rang Me, Toota Re Manwa that feature an entirely original soundtrack composed by Parivesh Singh and sung by some of the most prominent Bollywood singers including Shaan, Kailash Kher, Alka Yagnik, Suresh Wadkar, Shail Hada, Bhoomi Trivedi and Antara Mitra.
The choreography by Devendra Singh (Debu) features stunning performances and a fusion of Indian classic and contemporary dance styles.
Akila Iyengar, Managing Director, Arte Compass stated that the original work has been a big part of literature and cinema in India for over a century.
"We are proud to bring the epic to the stage for the first time ever in Singapore, produced in two languages. The production is all set to thrill diverse audiences with a highly talented cast, extravagant sets, aerial dance choreography and the original classical as well as contemporary music scores,” she added.
There will be two shows in Hindi with English surtitles at 8 pm on April 21 and 22 and two shows in English with Mandarin surtitles on April 22 at 3 pm and on April 23 at 5 pm at the Esplanade Theatre. Tickets for the show are available online.