Siddharth Roy Kapur on ‘Beauty and the Beast’

March 30, 2016

Beauty and the Beast” will return to India this summer. The Broadway musical opened to sold-out shows in Mumbai and New Delhi last year, featuring an all-Indian cast and costing as much to produce as the average Bollywood movie.

Beauty and the BeastWith live musicals charming urban audiences and tickets ranging from 1,500 rupees ($22) to 7,500 rupees ($112), Disney is hoping to bring more such shows to India.

Disney India chief Siddharth Roy Kapur spoke to Reuters about the musical and plans for more live events in the country.

Q: What did the first season of “Beauty and the Beast” in India teach you?
A: The first season was spectacular because we were completely sold out in both cities. Any trepidation we might have had about how the shows would go was completely washed away. It did give us the impetus to decide to do a second season in both cities and also look at live entertainment as a sustainable business model in India.

Q: Any changes in the second season?
A: In terms of audience numbers, we did 10 shows in Mumbai and 10 in Delhi. In Mumbai, the audience capacity was 2,300 people per show, and in Delhi it was 1,600 per show … In the second season, the capacity is the same, but we plan to do more shows. A lot of people who couldn’t watch it the first time around will come back.

Q: What are your long-term plans for live events in India?
A: It is really about bringing world-class content to India. The good part is we have a treasure trove of shows from the Disney theatrical group in the United States, from “The Lion King” to “Aladdin” and “Mary Poppins”, “Ida” and “The Jungle Book”, that we have done on Broadway and the West End, and then travelled the world with them. To bring these shows to India every few months or so, is what we are looking at; and also to encourage local talent.

Beauty and the BeastQ: What are the obstacles in the way to make this a lasting business in India?
A: Over time, the most important thing to make this business model sustainable is to ensure there are more venues. Mumbai and Delhi are just two centres, but there are cities like Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad [and] Ahmedabad which are ripe for this sort of entertainment. Audiences there are also clamouring for different experiences, but the venues at these places make it impossible for us to take a show of the scale of “Beauty and the Beast” there. Hopefully, we’ll find a way out, and in a couple of months, have some ideas that we can work towards implementing.

Q: Is it more to do with the size of the venues than the actual infrastructure?
A: That’s exactly the problem. The other cities don’t have a stadium the size of the NSCI (Mumbai) or a Thyagaraj (Delhi), where one can think of putting up a show. Aside from that, they also need the capacity to withstand the scale of this production because we have a lot of heavy equipment that has to be suspended from the ceiling. There is a certain depth to staging area and a certain height you require.

Beauty and the BeastQ: When will the next production come to India?
A: Sometime next year, when the next production will be launched, with a local cast and crew.

Q: What was the budget for “Beauty and the Beast” and has this been a profitable venture for Disney India?
A: This is as much as a medium-budget Hindi film, which I don’t think anyone else has done. I wouldn’t like to get into financials, but at the end of season two, we will be in a situation where we will be on the plus side.

(Editing by Tony Tharakan and Robert MacMillanFollow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay, Tony@tonytharakan and Robert @bobbymacReports  | Disclaimer: This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission)

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