In the first place we were told that this show advertised itself as a Taj Mahal Sound & Light show so we thought great, that sounds good. However, we were fooled, it turns out to be nothing more than a bad 80 minute or so melodrama and dance performance in a theatre with a 5 minute section at the end where they move a few lights around a copy of the Taj Mahal on stage. When we arrived we found hordes of tour buses with plenty of people there so thought OK, maybe this could be interesting if there were that many people there. Nope, nothing of the sort.. The large numbers of people says more about the dearth of things to do in Agra in the evening than any reflection on the quality of the performance.
The performance is a combination of conversations between a few people on stage, about 6 dances with larger numbers of people and some scenes mixed with photos or video projected onto screens. The performance is in Hindi but the problem is that the Hindi sound is blasted out across the auditorium at nearly full volume. Headsets are proved for the audience with translations in 10 languages I think but even with the headset volume control cranked up to full one could hardly hear the English translation above the Hindi. Plus of course at top output not surprisingly the sound from the headsets became extremely crackly so it was anyway quite difficult to hear. Mind you after a few minutes it became apparent that the scriptwriter should have been shot as the writing was just awful, I was embarrassed for the actors having to spout such rubbish though I think they were lip syncing anyway so perhaps they didn't care! The story was meant to tell of the building of the Taj but instead was just a soap opera about the intrigues between the different members of the Royal Family at that time. The dances were little better, very stiff and boring. The programme announced that they had specially hired a Bollywood choreographer to arrange the dances but it can't have been a choreographer of any standing as I am sure even I could have done better and I'm no dancer. Only one of the dances, the last one, had any sense of style or interest, though that was only compared to the other ones.
The only half-way decent aspect of the whole evening was that the performers costumes were colourful. We were told that they were accurate reproductions of local costumes and whilst that may be the case they certainly didn't seem to be accurate copies of Court dress for the period, far too stiff and heavy and closed up. I'm not an expert by any means but to me the costumes just didn't seem right for the Royal Court.
The organisers seemed especially proud of the large model of the Taj which appears on the stage at the very end and which was meant to have taken years to make and is they say a faithful reproduction of the Taj Mahal in the same marble. Well, maybe it is, but when you are seeing the model from the middle of an auditorium you just can't see any of the fine details, it really might as well be made out of extruded plastic for all one could see, so really is pretty pointless. Nor is it a 'sound and light show', just a few laser like lights moving back and forth.
Also the seats were not particularly comfortable being quite narrow though the one good thing was that they did provide a bottle of water per person by the armrest. Furthermore. the staff were not friendly and seemed quite surly. I do appreciate that dealing with hundreds of tourists is not likely to put you in a good mood, but still... Last but not least, the ticket prices were outrageous, at least for India, at I think 2,500 for the most expensive seats – which were about half the seats in the theatre, so even when one paid all that money for a 'best' seat one was still sitting halfway down the theatre! No photography allowed inside the theatre though I managed to snap a few outside and in the hallway.
Thirty years ago this might have seemed like an excellent show but nowadays with so many better entertainments available, no, a complete waste of time I'm afraid.
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