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Musical review: Bring On The Bollywood

When it comes to falling in love with Bollywood, every fan has their own story for why, when and how they fell under its spell. Despite most of us acknowledging the cheese factor, we allow ourselves to get lost in the fantasy of Bollywood movies and it’s this element that possibly explains why so many British people identify with popular Indian cinema when in fact, it’s so far from their own cultural experiences that they don’t even know the language. Exploring this connection is what inspired Artistic Director Samir Bhamra when it came to conceiving his latest production for musical theatre company Phizzical.

In the early days before I had even watched any films it was the visuals of Bollywood that intrigued me; seeing images of women looking utterly glamorous in the music videos and on posters, and as a lover of fashion and costume I loved the colour and creativity that existed in this fantasy world. Now that movie watching is part of my life, I love Bollywood because it’s a form of entertainment that engages all your senses and emotions and I’ve yet to find another genre of film, or other form of entertainment that can achieve this.

Bring On The Bollywood takes some of this allure to the live stage in an epic musical. You are enveloped into the colourful world of the movies right from the opening sequence; a high-octane dance performance of the title song Bring On The Bollywood. It’s fun, it’s flamboyant and it’s filled with positive energy. New comer Nisha Aaliya opens the play with her warm and bubby depiction of Dr Katrina Pawar, an Indian doctor living in London and forever dreaming for her real life movie moment to occur. A dancer by profession her moves are captivating and she was clearly born to perform.

The story focuses on Katrina’s visit to India for her younger brother’s wedding and as luck would have it, their romance is not the only one on the cards as our heroine finds herself falling for an unexpected suitor. Though the play feels very Bollywood, the story is not as predictable as one may assume. There’s a good dose of family drama, romance, tension and even fantasy spirits ensuring all the masala ingredients you’d expect from a movie are there.

I couldn’t take my eyes off the outfits. If I had access to the wardrobe department I’d swipe the lot. Exquisite long Gujarati skirts in rainbow colours, shimmering sequin ensembles and chic Asian attire - the costumes brought each scene to life and at times left my utterly in awe because they were just so stunning, I can’t remember the last time I saw a show where every outfit was on point. The standout one being a jaw-droppingly beautiful skirt worn by Katrina along with a sparkling black cropped top, it was just gorgeous!

Performed mostly by a young cast of newcomers, Bring On The Bollywood though a commendable piece of theatre does at times feel too ambitious. Asking newbies to sing, dance and act is a tall order. I adored the dance sequences but the singing fell hugely short of the same quality. Similarly frequently the script was lost in the diction, I didn’t always catch what the characters were saying and for a play of this length (verging on the same as a Western End show) it dragged in places because of these elements.

That said it’s a family show and no doubt these details won’t matter to fans of Bollywood looking for a good old-fashioned fun night out.

Bring On the Bollywood tours the UK from 6 May to 26 August 2017. The showing I attended took place at The Rose Theatre, Kingston.

Images: Nicola Young

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