Hayward, Calif. — Bollywood’s “Dream Girl” Hema Malini dazzled her audience performing in the lead role of “Durga” at the dance ballet staged at the Chabot College here July 5 and the Redondo Beach Performing Center in Redondo Beach July 6.
The classical dance ballet — which drew inspiration from the Devi Mahatmaya stories — tells the tale of Sati, a seemingly subservient young woman, who defies her parents to marry her love, Lord Shiva. In her next incarnations as Parvathi and finally Durga, the goddess’s power grows as she slays the evil demon Mahishasura and ultimately asserts her power over her husband Shiva as the goddess Kali.
The famed actress, a freshly-elected Member of Parliament, is perhaps best remembered as the chatty Basanti in the movie classic, “Sholay,” She first met actor Dharmendra on the set of “Sholay,” and later married him in 1980.
A new Parliament session began July 7, and Malini — who contested from Mathura — toldIndia-West she would not be attending as she still has performances scheduled for seven more U.S. venues.
“It has been my great pleasure to perform one of our most powerful characters,” Malini told the packed audience onstage after the performance. “It is with the blessing of the mother that I am able to perform this for you.”
Master Deepak ji, an astrologer who also produced the show locally, told India-West he was humbled to be involved with this show, as he is a devotee of Durga.
“Durga is the divine power of all the universe. She creates the aura of power that is divine power,” he said, noting that Malini has portrayed the goddess previously.
Georgy Bhalla, the national producer of the show, proclaimed to India-West that Malini herself has gone through a transformation over the years, from her beginnings as India’s “Dream Girl,” to a “Dream-Fulfilled Girl.”
“Durga” has a 15-performance run across the U.S., said Bhalla, adding that every show thus far has been sold out. Despite Malini’s election as a Member of Parliament from Mathura, Bhalla said the star had promised him to fulfill her stage obligations with his show before returning to India to resume her role in Parliament.
The ballet began as Malini — in her incarnation as Sati — coyly flirted with Shiva, danced by Venkata Narayana Murthy. In one complex move, Malini — belying her 65 years — limberly reached out the back of her foot to tap the back of Murthy’s foot. Throughout the show, Malini successfully portrayed a woman emerging from playful childhood into a multi-faceted goddess.
As her parents appeared to dissuade Sati from marrying Shiva, the goddess disappeared into a haze of smoke, then reappeared as Parvathi, clearly transformed and ethereal in a resplendent pink and white costume. Shiva also reappeared and the couple were married as the 25-member dance troupe showered the pair with flower petals.
In one of the most captivating scenes of the show, female dancers dressed as the elements – first sun, then wind and rain and snow – elegantly glided about the stage, and then folded into the petals of a lotus.
In the next act, Parvathi appeared transformed as the powerful goddess Durga, who battled the evil Mahishasura — played by Sanjay Kumar — and his band of warriors. As the scene ended, Durga and Mahishasura waged battle singlehandedly; she emerged triumphant as she killed the demon and took his necklace of skulls.
In the final scene, Durga ultimately asserted the depths of her power by standing over her supine husband Lord Shiva with a trident, then reappearing seated on the back of a tiger.
Malini and her 25-member dance troupe from India received a long, standing ovation after the stellar performance, which was punctuated by lavish staging and elaborate costuming.
The dance program was organized nationally by Rhythm Asia and supported by TV Asia and Tathaastu magazine. Jai Masta di Entertainment were the local organizers for the Hayward show, with The Shah Foundation and Tisha Entertainment organizing the Redondo Beach program.