Why not a musical on Lata’s immortal songs, a la magic Of ABBA? (Column: Bollywood Spotlight)

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So I say, thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing; Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing. My growing-up years were made so much less difficult by the spellbinding magic of the Swedish pop group ABBA. Every song they sang, every note that spilled out of the quartet’s ambit, was pure nectar.

Over the years the nourishing, nutrifying quality of ABBA’s music remains unchanged. I feel the same tingle in my soul when I hear even a line of ABBA’s song anywhere. Even talking about their music makes me emotional.

My love affair with ABBA began when I was a lonely 16-year old in Trinidad with only music and movies for company. One day while surfing the radio I heard Mama Mia.

My life changed.

Suddenly I saw sunshine peeping out of the clouds. My heart danced. My spirit soared. My feet tingled. It was love at first hear.

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Many, many years and decades later when the film “Mama Mia”, based on the songs of ABBA, was announced I was in seventh heaven, going on eighth. “Mama Mia”, released in 2008, had one of my all-time favourite actors Meryl Streep singing ABBA songs. I had a blast. And I wasn’t alone. The film went on to be the most successful musical of all times.

In the last ten years I must have watched the movie dozens of times, hoping that the story would be carried forward some day.

And it has. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”, the sequel to the spectacularly successful “Mama Mia” is out. We get to see it a little after the rest of the world, on August 3. Its producers — global distributors plan a limited release in India. Apparently there are less ABBA fans in India than in the rest of the world, a contention open to debate.

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Everyone I know from my generation is crazy about ABBA. The problem lies elsewhere. The musical format of presentation is nothing novel for us. All Bollywood films are musicals anyway. At least, they used to be. So a full-fledged musical like “La La Land” or “Mama Mia” seems more of what we already have. Or its like carrying coal to Dhanbad.

But here is the irony. While Bollywood and Hindi cinema, which patented and popularized the lip-sync songs, is moving away from the musical tradition, Hollywood is embracing it. Everyone in the Mamma Mia sequel — from the legendary Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Cher to the younger actors playing the young versions of the older cast members — sings and dances to the ABBA songs. Watching them, I felt time had stopped.

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It made me wonder. Why can’t we have a movie version of Lata Mangeshkar’s songs? A script written specially around her most popular songs, where the entire cast sings and dances to those memorable melodies.

I spoke to diehard Lata bhakt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and he’s game for the idea.

Now all we need to do its get Hema Malini and Alia Bhatt to play the older and younger versions of Lata Mangeshkar and the show is on the road.

Mamma Mia, I can hardly wait.

(Subhash K Jha can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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