Hi folks, March has been amazing. I have just returned to Delhi after one super ride on Golden Chariot and it feels great to be back with a bagful of stories from South India. The state of Karnataka mesmerized me and I can’t wait to share my travelogues. But before that, I must talk about few noteworthy events that I attended before the trip. Today, I am going to talk about one such culturally immersive experience that I experienced 2 weeks ago.
Ghungroo – The Sounds of Yore is the first dinner theater. It is a unique, immersive dance musical, that unfolds and weaves the story of Delhi as the seat of power and discusses its impact on the cultural-scape of India, through centuries. The setup is artistic and the performances have a theatrical format peppered well with quirky story-telling. The animated format of the caricatures is a great way to teach us a few lessons of history. When the dances end, an authentic Indian Barbecue dinner at ‘Angaaray- Straight from the Fire’ begins.
Delhi or Dilli has a rich and glorious past. It has been 106 years since its declaration as the capital of the country. The plethora of monuments speak of its bygone eras but in our fast paced busy lives, we rarely slow down to peep into its ancient history. In the last twenty years that I have lived here, I have seen it transform in many ways and everything about it has become a part of me now. Thus, I believe that the story of Delhi must be told and retold again and again in different ways. When I got the invitation to visit and review Ghungroo, what really appealed to me was its concept of putting dance, theater, history, food on one platter. It sounded entertaining and fresh, thus I seamlessly agreed to check it out.
BEHIND THE SCENE
The pictures and experience are from my visit on 10th March 2017. The venue is Parsi Anjuman Hall, Bahadur Shah Zafar Road, LNJP Colony (Near Maulana Azad College). I started from Faridabad, Sector 28 and took a direct metro to ITO. After a 5 minute walk from the station, I was right there where I was supposed to be.
I consciously made it to the venue before time to click an empty room and meet the performers. The stage and the setup of the hall looked cheerful and vibrant. The seats looked clean, colorful and comfortable. I was pretty keen to meet the artists. My camera caught them wrapping their musical anklets to the feet (Ghungroo), adorning the corner of the feet with a red (religious) liquid (Aalta) and giving final touches to their looks.
Delhi or ‘Dehleez’, the doorway to India and the seat of many empires, has stood through centuries of glorious and colorful past. Without Yamuna, the essence of the city would be lost. This meandering river has forever patronized the city and witnessed its enchanting tales of power, conquest, revenge, devotion and love.
What happens at Ghungroo- The Sounds of Yore? When everyone is seated in, the lights go down and the stage is lit with musical fire. We get to see cute caricatures and animated anecdotes of history. The story-telling is beautifully complemented with dance performances. Starting from the first documented ruler of Delhi, Prithwi Raj Chauhan, tracing the journey of Bhakti Movement through Sufism, followed by a stylized form of Kathak for the Mughal Courts, Tarana, ending in Bollywood, the performances showcase the history and spirit of Delhi.
To me, it was quite an engaging act. I was glued to my seat and my eyes kept to the stage only. The dances were beautifully choreographed. I loved looking deep into Delhi through the musical enactment of the little bytes from the past. I liked the blend of past and the present where it was taken over by Bollywood numbers. In my view, I preferred the Kathak act more than anything because we rarely get to see these ancient dance forms. Bollywood should be kept to a minimum.
ANGAARAY-STRAIGHT FROM FIRE
The concept of dinner theater says that first you enjoy a theater performance and then you treat your senses with some good food. I was pretty hungry by this time and was really looking forward to some fresh and delicious food from the barbecue.
It was a breezy night and the open-air arrangement looked enticing for sure. It was a lovely change from the usual dolled up restaurants. One was free to just walk through and choose from the buffet setup. The food was Indian and was being served straight from the fire. The choices were limited but everything about the food looked fresh. The tandoor was taking care of the bread. The barbecue stations were laid with starters for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Some of the dishes were simple and cooked tastefully, especially the veg starters were devoid of thick (spicy) marinations but yet tasted yum. The dal was hot and simple. The chicken curry was cooked just the way we Dilliwallahs love it. The Jalebis were being fried right there, the sahi tukra was just rightly prepared and one had the option to indulge in Indian style of chow mein too.
But of all the good things said and done, the food did not really impress me the way I wanted it to do to me. There was nothing wrong about it but nothing stood out for me exceptionally. The barbecue concept is a winner for sure but the other options have to be equally delicious to call it a great experience.
First of all things, I felt Delhi chaat and Biryani was missing from the menu. Second, the starters were good but the choices of main course were not enough. Third, there should be a signature dish to give you the real taste of Delhi.
The choreography and the performances were impressive.
The animated slides around the history of Delhi were eye catching and immensely engaging.
The dance performances of various eras were different from each other and unique in themselves.
The tables were laid out well.
The starters looked fresh and tempting straight from the fire.
The rustic, raw and simple spread of food (buffet style) under the open sky was a lovely change from the conventional restaurant style.
Thumbs Down! (Some suggestions)
The Bollywood section should be cut down and more of classical should be added.
The Angaaray section needs to be worked upon as a whole.
I do not insist on adding more options but then I want everything to taste like delicacies of Old Delhi. For now, some of the dishes didn’t work for me.
The food spread needs to boast of some signature dish and give each one an authentic Delhi indulgence.
Overall, it is a great concept and it should be worked on to add variety to the performances. People love to do something different on the weekends and this can be a great option. Guests from other states and countries will love to know about Delhi in a theatrical style.