Interview: Shazia Mirza on Epic Bollywood Stage Transfer, Disco Dancer
Award winning, critically acclaimed British stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza takes to the stage in a new adaptation of Bollywood’s iconic film Disco Dancer, at Sadler’s Wells 16-20 November 2022. We caught up with Shazia to talk D-I-S-C-O, her inspirations and favourite London haunts…
Tell us about Disco Dancer: how did you get involved and what does the movie mean to you?
Disco Dancer is an iconic Bollywood film released in 1982. It was voted the worst film of the decade as well as the first Indian film to gross a thousand million rupees. It’s a typical rags to riches story like most Bollywood films. It’s about a Disco Dancer who develops Guitaraphobia due to the death of his mother by electrocution with a guitar. It’s cheesy as hell, happy, sad, and dramatic and a lot of fun. It’s Saturday Night Fever with a lot of spice. Great songs, great dancing and comedy.
The producers of this show saw me doing stand up, loved it and asked me to be in this show. I said yes immediately as Disco Dancer is a film I watched growing up. It’s iconic, ground breaking, nostalgic, and really great fun. It reminds me of being a child, having dreams and trying to fulfill them.
What can your audience expect – from your performance and from this 80s Bollywood phenomenon reimagined on stage?
People can expect songs like “Jimmy Jimmy”, “I am a Disco Dancer” and music from the legendary Bappi Lahiri. Energetic dancing, stand up comedy from me about Bollywood and what it meant to British Asians. There is also really great film footage and the set is vibrant.
Are there any Indian disco legends we should listen to, to help prepare for the show?
I would say, don’t prepare anything at all. Just enjoy seeing this show for the first time, or if you watched it growing up, see it on stage for the first time. You will easily be able to get into the groove of the music and moves. It’s all very catchy.
Who or what inspires your comedy voice?
I am inspired by everyday people and everyday life. There is so much going on, you really don’t have to make it up. Last night I saw Matt Hancock eating a sheep’s vagina with Boy George. I could never have invented that story in a million years.
Are there any acts we should look out for that you would recommend?
What advice would you give to up and coming comedy?
Work as hard as you can all the time. Don’t think someone will discover you. They won’t. They’re too busy discovering themselves. Gig a lot, write a lot, think of ideas a lot. And have tenacity. The people who go far in comedy are not the most talented, they are the most determined.
What are your favourite London haunts?
I go swimming in Hampstead Ladies Pond all year round. It’s cold water, but good for your mind as well as the body. The Arcola Theatre in Hackney puts on the best shows, both comedy and theatre, and Dishoom has the best black daal I have ever tasted.