Friday, 16 June 2017

Review Bring On The Bollywood

Catherine Kelly's career has included freelance journalism, as well as art director and magazine editor roles. She currently runs training workshops and has worked extensively in India.

Bring On The Bollywood
by Samir Bhamra
Music by Devesh Sodha and Niraj Chag

From India With Love

A feel-good extravaganza, Bring On The Bollywood, currently on tour,  has plenty of talent on board within its romantic East versus West star-crossed lovers musical comedy format.

There's a love story with many of the elements and twists and turns expected of a Bollywood movie plus a neat twist examing contemporary British Indian attitudes towards India.

Inspired by Oliver Goldsmith's eighteenth century play She Stoops To Conquer, the stock figures of Goldsmith's comedy and the Bollywood genre meld together well. It proves a strong framework setting up the modern against  the traditional, reality versus idealism, all within a romantic comedy that pays heart-warming homage to Bollywood.

Nisha Aaliya's Dr Katrina Pawar is our London-based heroine who returns to her parents' home in India for the wedding of her younger brother, Lucky played by Anthony Sahota. There's a series of tangles resulting in Katrina's parents' home being mistaken for a hotel but true love wins the day when the "samosa" love triangle is resolved.

Dance, unsurprisingly in a show modelled on Bollywood, takes centre stage choreographed by Subhash Viman,  Dr Leena Patel and Sonia Sabri  in a dazzling and dizzying array of ensemble set pieces. Many of the songs are also recognisable from Bollywood movies.  

Nevertheless it's long at nearly three hours and would benefit from hefty cutting and pacier direction by the show's creator and director Samir Bhamra.

This might also have increased the chemistry  between the two good-looking leads,  Aaliya as Katrina and  Robby Khela, who displays fine vocals, as her British born Indian love interest Ronny.

In a supporting role, Yanick Ghanty as Bollywood actor Amit has plenty of earthy comic swagger and is nicely matched with Rekha, an innocent Indian ward of the Pawar family, gracefully played by Sophie Kandola. Errant playboy son Lucky is a star turn by Sahota whose easy mastery of physical comedy quickly won the affection of the audience.

At the same time, it's often the more experienced veteran actors who carry the show.

Avita Jay's lovelorn Kanga gives maximum value both in the acting and singing stakes. Sakuntala Ramanee as the powerhouse matriarch matchmaker Lalita determined to marry off her children and Rohit Gokani as her bumptious husband Colonel Sunder Pawar also push the production up a much needed gear - ‘We don’t like each other but we love each other’.

There's spirited work from the dance ensemble of Emiko Jane Ishii, Jo Bispham, Mithun Gill, Raheem Mir, Kesha Raithatha.

However, having recorded backing tracks rather than live music did sap some of the energy out of the show and made me wonder whether it needed more volume to get audience toes tapping.

Apart from one clever transition when the Indian villa became a mountain top, the set, designed by Richard Evans, seemed rather inflexible in signalling mood and location changes, although Pete Bragg's lighting design made up a lot of the deficit.

Bring On The Bollywood has a great concept, story premise and  a witty script with depth and insight even if more experience in the 24-strong cast would give it the zing it deserves. However, the audience around me thoroughly enjoyed it and it's a sparkling upper range amber light.

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