Carol Furtado’s stumble into The Merchants of Bollywood starring role

Carol Furtado from The Merchants of Bollywood.
Carol Furtado from The Merchants of Bollywood.

SOME interviewees give run-of-the-mill quotes – their story can almost be written before they open their mouths – and then there is Mumbai beauty, Carol Furtado.

The Merchants of Bollywood leading lady did not always dream of a life on stage, nor was she devoted to Bollywood.

In fact, Furtado unwittingly – and reluctantly – fell into dance and the role of Ayesha Merchant.

Her fate unfolded when a choreographer saw her dancing with friends in a pub and from there she went on to perform in music videos and at gigs, including one alongside Slash of Guns N’ Roses.

“Although I am Catholic, Indians are synonymous with Hinduism and these are the people you are brought up around,” Furtado said.

“The cultural influence seeps in because everyone’s eyes are on you, sizing you up, and they say: ‘What kind of a culture does she come from? She doesn’t have any values and morals.’

“So dancing was never considered a lucrative business, let alone a career option for me.”

Most interesting is how she landed the role of Ayesha: a young girl who parallels Furtado as she struggles to balance tradition and passion.

“I told my friend: ‘Please don’t get me involved in this Bollywood sh*t – I just want to do my music videos and dance (modern) around’,” the performer said.

“But my friend went behind my back and sent my pictures and details to the producers and one day they called me.”

Furtado decided to “save face” and have a coffee with producers.

“I was just going to have one cappuccino then wipe my hands of it and the next thing I know the director takes me to a concert hall, where all the actors of the production are, and says: ‘Read this.’

“I thought I would just get to the last page of the script and then the director said: ‘These are the dates, let’s talk contract.’

“My plan was to go along with it and then go home and call saying: ‘Sorry, no.’”

Emails quickly went out saying Furtado had the role.

“I thought: ‘My God – I have to do this!” she said.

“Then they told me the contract was for three months and I said: ‘OK, fine’ and the show did so well that the contract went for nine months.”

Furtado performed Ayesha from 2006-11 then reprised the role in 2013 and embraces the show wholeheartedly.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: The Merchants of Bollywood

When: November 9-10

Where: Crown Theatre Perth

Tickets: ticketmaster.com.au