Aruna Harjani premieres "WEST BOLLYWOOD" // Q&A with Abhi Sinha
Popular Indonesian and ethnic Indian playwright, Aruna Harjani, presents the World Premiere of her comedy with music WEST BOLLYWOOD, directed by Kiff Scholl, produced by Murray Kalis and Donna Lane.
The comedy centers around a favorite Indian son, Pratap, played by Abhi Sinha (The Young and the Restless), who, after proposing to his male American flame, brings his beloved home to meet his Old Country Indian immigrant family. Tradition is turned upside down, and chaos ensues in this Cinderella spoof with plenty of Bollywood dancing!
We had the opportunity to ask lead actor Abhi Sinha some questions about his role and expirence in WEST BOLLYWOOD!
You primarily act in TV/film, what are the biggest challenges you've faced acting on stage?
How little time there is between scenes - in television and film you have 30 minutes or more between scenes. In theater you have about 30 seconds. That was definitely a challenge for me. And, this is my first stage play.
Aside from the challenge of playing Pratap, I would have to say the dancing. I now understand why dancers are in top physical shape because I am SORE!
What are you enjoying most about playing Pratap?
As for playing Pratap - I’m enjoying playing a role that is not your typical Indian stereotype. One of the biggest problems I see with many roles I audition for is that Indians, especially males, are still stereotyped. I mean, just watch “Deadpool.” That’s how Indian men are portrayed in TV and film: The cab driver, the nerd. I love that the role of Pratap breaks barriers. I’m a leading man, I’m Indian and I’m gay. How often does that happen??
The only other role in Hollywood that will showcase all three (I.e. leading man, Gay and Indian) is “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the portrayal of Freddie Mercury. While I am a fan of Rami Malek (he is a fine actor) - he’s not Indian, and Freddie Mercury was.
We love that West Bollywood is an Indian LGBT+ love story. How important was it for you to play this role?
This role is particularly interesting because it deals with two subjects. Indians are still very conservative as a society and having interracial marriage, even if you’re heterosexual, can be challenging. But adding the LGBT storyline is a double whammy.
I feel that it’s very important to play this role. It’s progressive. Many Indians in general need an eye-opener and to come out of their microcosms of what they consider traditional. I think this role, and the play as a whole, is the first step out of their current Indian mindset.
Make sure you check out WEST BOLLYWOOD! The play runs Friday, July 27 - Sunday, July 29 (Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm; Sunday at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm) at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046.
Tickets ( $25 General Admission) are available at: https://www.plays411.com/newsite/show/play_info.asp?show_id=4841 .
check out the West Bollywood team's
first table reading!