TAJ Brings Dazzling Light to Canadian Art

Lisa Ray in TAJ - photo by Sid Sawant

Lisa Ray in TAJ (photo by Sid Sawant)

Film Star Kabir Bedi and Celebrity Cultural Critic Samita Nandy on TAJ 

October 28, 2013TAJ brings Canada to the attention of art lovers that have travelled around the world.  The international project not only put the Greater Toronto Area, but Canada in the global spotlight of performance arts.

Funded by Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council, TAJ received critical acclaim and recognition in media such as The Globe and Mail, National Post, CBC television, City TV, and Broadway World.  The dance-theatre stages two film stars: Kabir Bedi and Lisa Ray.  While Lisa Ray is well known for her Oscar-nominated film Water and Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada, Kabir Bedi is known for acting in the James Bond film Octopussy, Bold and Beautiful, Sandokan, and many Bollywood films. He has been a voting member of the “Oscars Academy” (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences) for 30 years as well.

Currently TAJ is on a 7-city tour in Canada and has ignited a fire of passion

Sashar Zarif & Ensemble in TAJ - photo by Sid Sawant

Sashar Zarif & Ensemble (photo by Sid Sawant)

in the hearts of many spectators.  Written by Canada’s award-winning playwright John Murrell, TAJ is a visually stunning performance that is presented through a combination of poetic script, captivating music, and multimedia projection.  TAJ was successfully presented in Mississauga, Kingston, and Sault Ste. Marie, and now on its way to Ottawa, Markham, and Sherwood Park and Banff in Alberta.

Kabir Bedi in TAJ

Kabir Bedi in TAJ (photo by Sid Sawant)

On his way to Kingston, Kabir Bedi revealed the power of the new script that has been written for TAJ.  Bedi affirms that the script is completely revised and different from the one presented at the Luminato arts festival in 2011: “It flows much more beautifully.  It is totally an elegant play that integrates dance and drama more, has a balance of characters, and presents more clarity. It is vivid, symbolic, and dramatic.” Bedi was flown from India to take part in the revision of the script in Canada.  It is “pleasure to perform with such a script.  I feel terrific,” says Bedi.  TAJ received a standing ovation after its opening show at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga.  

In contemporary culture, Taj Mahal is often commodified and represented in

Lisa Ray in TAJ

Lisa Ray in TAJ (photo by Sid Sawant)

ordinary products such as tea boxes, calendars, and a hotel chain.  This commodification occurs because the iconic architecture is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is a symbol of romantic love. But what needs to be remembered, Bedi asserts, is “the story behind the love.”  Bedi further says that the “Taj Mahal is more than a name – it is a living symbol of triumph and tragedy in world history.”  The 2013 performance of TAJ and its symbolic expressions mobilize spectators to imagine and fully embrace the passion and powerful emotions with which the architecture was built.   In particular, TAJ inspires producers and audiences to consider the human element that famous figures share with all.  TAJ illustrates that Shah Jahan is a human being – he is an emperor as well as prisoner that has become famous for his lasting love and passion.

Lisa Ray and Kabir Bedi in TAJ - photo by Sid Sawant

Lisa Ray & Kabir Bedi in TAJ (photo by Sid Sawant)

Canadian-Afghan community developer Freshta Ahmadzai saw the Taj Mahal during her stay in India and was one of the spectators at the opening show. For Ahmadzai, Kabir Bedi’s acting is “flawless – he was the perfect Shah Jahan.” She adds, “I thoroughly enjoyed the telling of the love story through dance. The dancers were graceful and magnificent. It would be excellent if they did international performances as the story is based on world history.” Nita Dayal-Nicholson, who was also present at the show, says TAJ is an “absolute visual enticement. The Kathak dancers literally floated on air with their precise footwork and spins. A stunning stage presentation of Shah Jahan’s pure, deep and never ending love for his Mumtaz.” Nicholson was born in England, lived in Fiji, grew up in Canada, and married in Jamaica.  With global travel experiences in Wales, Scotland, England, Nepal, Bhutan, Australia, New Zealand, USA, and Ireland, Nicholson contends, TAJ should have “international acclaim.”

To find out more about the upcoming performances of Sampradaya Dance Creations, please visit: http://sampradaya.ca/_bin/events/pastEvents/TajTour.cfm

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Samita Nandy holds a Doctorate from the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University in Australia.  She is the Founding Director of the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) and a reviewer of New Media & Society Journal in SAGE Publications. Email: info@cmc-centre.com

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