Elaborate costumes, extravagant dance routines and not one but two love stories intermingled into one Bollywood-style musical make Butterflies of the Mughal Garden one of the most ambitious plays to be staged this Mardi Gras season.

Co-written by Kunal Mirchandani and Gary Paramanathan, both members of the gay South Asian group Salaam Nameste, Mughal Garden draws parallels between the doomed love affair of the 15th century Mughal emperor and a modern romance between an Indian and an Australian man, all set to a stunning score and choreography.

“Due to its very nature Bollywood serves as an ideal platform to tell a gay love story,” Mirchandani said.

“The musical genre has always been quite popular among gay men. No self-respecting gay man dares to walk around without an arsenal of show tunes under his belt.

“Madly in love? Do a twirl and break into song. Feeling heartbroken? Gyrate around the room while passionately beating your chest.”

Paramanathan said the genre lent itself to Bollywood stories because they are often about forbidden love.

“Gay love in many cultures is considered forbidden, hence to live it out on stage in all its glory is very inspirational to the GLBQT people,” he said.

But Mirchandani said people should attend with an open mind.

“First and foremost, we’d like to see audience members thoroughly entertained,” he said.

 “Secondly though, while the play doesn’t have an explicit agenda it does create some interesting parallels. If the play somehow manages to incorporate a message of tolerance effortlessly into the story then I will feel quite fulfilled.”

Butterflies of the Mughal Garden plays 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 February, Metropolitan Community Church, 96 Crystal St, Petersham. Tickets: www.mca-tix.com, 1300 306 776.

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