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Beyond Bollywood

A vibrant display of Indian song, dance and culture at its finest

Posted: 24.04.15

Performing alongside the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai to name a few, high profile Bollywood choreographer Rajeev Goswami has described his upcoming West End production as a ‘journey through India.’ Making its debut as the first West End production from India, Beyond Bollywood brings authentic Indian dance to the West End. A magnanimous hit already in India, this world class act brings together legendary Bollywood artists, including memorable songs and lyrics written by talented lyricist Irfan Siddiqui, and featuring an original score by renowned musical director duo Salim-Sulaiman. The production provides the audience with a true insight into the best of India culture, representing each glorious state along the way.

An impressive entourage of 24 dancers, four actors and four musicians from India will be featured in the show to personify the country’s diverse culture and showcase folk and classical dance. The production is about a young girl who leaves her home in Munich, and travels to India to fulfil her mother’s wishes. Director Rajeev explained: ‘I didn’t want to make it a Bollywood movie on stage. Unlike a B-town movie, the songs in the musical are required to be there. The songs in the production manage to take the story forward, with very little dialogue.’

Rajeev’s admiration for the West End and theatre scene is what inspired him to create his own musical. He divulged: ‘Back when I was a dancer, I used to blow all my allowances on musicals. I’ve always been a fan of the London West End, so there couldn’t be a better opening for a production like this anywhere else. I wanted to open my musical in the most grand way possible.’

Inspired by the theatre culture in Munich, versatile Rajeev was motivated to create his own storyline: ‘There is a large Indian community there and it made me wonder, how would I survive there without Indian music or culture? That’s what made me want to create a market for Indian dance and music, in a place filled with opera singers and classical audiences.’ His aim is to show the British and international audience the richness of folk culture and dance in India, from Bhangra to Kathak.

Irfan Siddiqui and Salim-Sulaiman have won the Indian audience’s heart already with Bollywood compositions in films such as Fashion and Kurbaan. The seven original scores composed by Salim-Sulaiman, are all created to capture the essence of each unique Indian state and their own folk dance culture. Irfan emphasised: ‘India is a country of different religions, cultures and states. Every state has its own style of music and dancing and we have tried to capture the same thing through our music and choreography. It was my aim to recreate the flavour of each element of the culture through the words of the songs.’

Writing lyrics for an international theatre audience as opposed to the more familiar lyrics written for film songs is quite different, as Irfan elaborates: ‘The songs are in Hindi, so the British audience wouldn’t understand the meaning of the songs – but this doesn’t matter, as music transcends all cultural boundaries. The marriage of costumes, music, dance and the spectacular performance is what the audience want, above all else. But bearing the international spectators in mind, I focused on the sounds of words to reach the audience. For this reason, our theme song is titled Namaste India. The lyrics I have chosen are very easy to understand as they are so catchy, so you will want to know the meaning of them.’

Beyond Bollywood is promised to be a production rich with culture, colour and vibrancy – a true representation of the versatility and essence of India. With an exclusive 60 performances in the UK, for eight weeks only, the musical will premiere at the London Palladium on the 8th of May. Rajeev Goswani invites everyone to watch his masterpiece of a production: ‘We’ve made this production with utmost honesty and entertainment. You come here, you dance, you sing, you have a blast and then go home…and maybe come back another weekend!’

Beyond Bollywood will be showing at the London Palladium from 8th May 2015 – 27th June 2015
Find out more here
For tickets, see here

Fariha Sabir

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