Anuvab Pal: Democracy and Disco Dancing (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Anuvab Pal: Democracy and Disco Dancing

Karla Gowlett

Shining the light of Bollywood onto a troubled modern Britain

Last time he was at the Fringe, Anuvab Pal came to school his mostly-British audience about their colonial past, with himself and his plummy accent as exhibits A and B. This time around, he assures the crowd that he's going to go easy on them, given how stressful and divisive our politics already are. Instead, Pal is here to recount an equally polarising issue which has similarly split India down the centre for decades: the 1982 Bollywood musical drama, Disco Dancer.

Is it a cinematic masterpiece or a horrifying train wreck? Is it a comedy or tragedy? Back in India, the debate rages on with no sign of abating, so Pal spends the latter half of his show doing a spirited recreation of Disco Dancer, so that the audience can settle the issue once and for all. While he does an excellent job of conveying the film's surreality, Pal's true comedic strength still lies with his incisive critiques on British governance, landing several strong punchlines in his opening segment about the absurdity of referendums, and comparisons between the East India Company and UK department stores.

But just when it seems as though this may become a show of two halves, Pal marries the British legal system and Bollywood together in a hilariously absurd manner that involves, of course, busting out some serious disco moves. A thoroughly enjoyable hour that lends historical perspective upon our present-day mess.

Assembly George Square Studios, until 26 Aug, 5.30pm, £11–£13 (£10–£12).

Anuvab Pal: Democracy and Disco Dancing

  • 4 stars

Mick Perrin Worldwide Anuvab Pal is trying to understand a thousand years of this bewildering British Isle through his Indian lens, deploying respectable tools he's mastered like corruption, deceit and fake news to find whether they exist in this land. And thereby bring two great cultures closer. Much needed in a…