Trends: A Berry Bumbug Christmas!


The cast of 'Bumbug - the Musical' - a tale of Indian immigrants in America

The Cast of 'Bumbug - the Musical' - Photo: Corky Lee

‘Bumbug – The Musical’ is a Desi Christmas Tale

Trends sometimes turn into traditions. For the immigrants who came from India, Christmas was often a lonely time of the year. Fast forward a few decades and many of them will tell you it’s now  a favorite time of the year, with non-stop shopping, social get-togethers and yes, even a tree and lights, thanks to their American-born children. Now these same American Born desis are starting a new Christmas tradition – their very own desi Christmas Carol!

‘Bumbug the Musical’, produced by LAUGHistan,  is a hilarious rock musical playing in Manhattan, and it could become the next holiday tradition with a desi twist to it. Created by New York actors and writers Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri, it’s a  joyous celebration of  immigrant life where everyone seems to bring their own traditions to be mixed up in the giant blender of America.

“No matter where you come from, what cultural background, what race, everyone has moments of loneliness and doubt in the city that never sleeps,” says actor and musician Samrat Chakrabarti. “In Bumbug’, we explore the theme of community and intricacies of being global citizens in today’s world through the joy of music.”

The band: Konrad Payne, Samrat Chakrabarti, Ranjit Arapurakal and Shiv Puri

The band: Konrad Payne, Samrat Chakrabarti, Ranjit Arapurakal and Shiv Puri. Photo: Corky Lee

‘Bumbug’  –  A Rock Musical with a Desi Touch

Indeed the catchy, feverishly energizing music hooks you from the very first number, ‘Get on the Train’ and takes you on a wild joy ride with a rock musical that makes you want to jump in your seat. The music is composed by Chakrabarti and the band includes him as well as Bamboo Shoots member Shiv Puri, Konrad Payne and Ranjit Arapurakal.

‘Bumbug’ is set on Christmas Eve in a Quickie Mart where you don’t have the cartoon character Apu but a grouchy, unhappy Indian immigrant Scroogewala (Andrew Guilarte) who finds no joy in Christmas or the American way of life. His favorite phrase is ‘Bakwas Bumbug!”

Scroogewala is an FOB (Fresh off the Boat) and attracted to Sunita (Lipica Shah) who is an ABCD, and their lives seem worlds apart. Enter the Angel (Adrienne Moore) who shows him what the future will be like – unless he changes his ways.  Loss, love and transformation are all embedded in this immigrant Christmas tale.

The Indian-American Experience

The musical, directed by Mercedes Murphy, stars a lively, appealing cast – Falu,  Debargo Sanyal, Andrew Guilarte, Lipica Shah and Adrienne Moore with Kiarri Andrews, Brooke Ishibashi and Matthew Knowland in the Ensemble. The sly and witty dialogue has many Indian references from Ganapati to Tilda Basmati Rice to Kingfisher beer and keeps the crowd chuckling. One lyric brings in a familiar prayer chant with a plaintive, materialistic line added in:

‘Master Card aur Visa, American Express Lord Pleasa,

The economy is so bad today – Om Jai Jagdish Hare’

Indeed Samrat Chakrabarti and Sanjiv Jhaveri’s irreverent script has droll humor and even tender moments, and a warmth and universality which will have all audiences, not just South Asian, relating to the story.

Falu, Lipica Shah and Dabargo Sanyal in 'Bumbug -The Musical'

Falu, Lipica Shah and Dabargo Sanyal in 'Bumbug -The Musical'. Photo: Corky Lee

Falu’s Dance Fever

“It’s a very nice Indian Christmas Carol – it’s a twist but it’s fun and everyone can come, children can come,” says Falu. “It’s a very funny storyline and we tried to make all 70 minutes really entertaining.”

Falu, who has quite a fan following as a singer,  makes a fun acting and dancing debut. Having never danced or acted before, she had to go through a full learning curve, practicing 8 hours a day for over a month and a half. Since she is lifted in the air, Broadway style, she had to practice the balancing trapeze moves ten times a day, and work with the choreographer on jazz, hip hop and belly dancing.

“When you’re on Broadway you act, you sing and you dance,” she says. ” It’s not what I do so for me it was a whole different world. But if you give anything time and dedication you can achieve anything in life. I now have agents calling me – can we sign you for this play or for that movie!”

So you never know what you are capable of till you do it – and that might be a nice bonus message to take home from ‘Bumbug – the Musical.’

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About Author

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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