Beyond Bollywood

Previewed 8 May 2015, Opened 11 May 2015, Closed 27 June 2015 at the London Palladium

The UK Premiere of the new musical Beyond Bollywood in London for a strictly limited seven week season - direct from sell-out performances in Mumbai.

A journey of a young girl in search of her roots, her legacy, her passion, her traditions and her love. Experience the music, the dance, the drama, the intensity, the pain and the joy when dreams turn into reality.

A young Indian girl, Shaily Shergill, leaves her home in Germany to set out on a journey to India with just one desire in her heart - to fulfil her departed mother’s dream. Shaily’s mother had been a renowned Indian Classical Kathak dancer, but the theatre she owned in Germany is now on the verge of collapse. Determined to continue what her mother had started, Shaily sets off for India to learn about her mother’s art and the other Indian dance forms - but can she save the theatre from collapse? Beyond Bollywood promises to take audiences on a truly authentic and spectacular cultural tour of India capturing the spirit and vivacity of Indian dance.

The cast features Ana Ilmi as 'Shaily Shergill', Mohit Mathur as 'Raghav', Pooja Pant as 'Jaswinder Shergill' and Sudeep Modak as 'Ballu'. Written, directed and choreographed by Rajeev Goswami with lyrics by Irfan Siddiqui and music by Salim Merchant and Sulaiman Merchant.

When this production opened in May 2015, Michael Billington in the Guardian noted that, ""while this show offers a lavish spectacle, you wish that the company had remembered to pack a decent script... It is only in the second half, when we can forget about the silly story, that the show takes off. It becomes a celebration of different folk traditions including the Garba dance of Gujarat and the Punjabi bhangra, and of the festivals of Holi and Diwali." Donald Hutera in the Times thought that "pretty much the entire first half of the production comes a cropper thanks to a witless, ham-fisted script, acting that is at times embarrassingly broad and some flat and ghastly digital projections in lieu of a set... while in dance terms the second act reaches extra levels of engagement by focusing on various folk styles. There’s also a surprising bit of camp fun that’s over all too soon. The show contains definite traces of the kind of pop cartoon kick that Bollywood films can deliver, but this colourful slab of theatrical cheese lacks a sustaining charm." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail described it as being "all very camp. Alas, it is also a bore. The dancing and music is separated by the thinnest of plots... The singing and orchestration is canned. The non-musical moments are — there is no other word — atrocious." Lyndsey Winship in the London Evening Standard said it was "a good-hearted, colourful, cheesy-as-hell dance musical... The set up is weak and the sexed-up Bollywood/R'n'B dance routines have little power or fire... Still, if you can get through the first half, this is a lively dance show and a fun night out for fans of Bollywood pop."

"There were many empty seats for the glittering opening night of this Bollywood musical. Latecomers drifted in unhurriedly throughout. Perhaps they already knew that this was a show in which neither storytelling nor character matters a jot... Then there are solos from the keyboard, tabla, pakhawaj and sitar players, and they are virtuosic, each one of them, but already the show has become, at best, an over-extended after-dinner entertainment... Writer-producer Rajeev Goswami directs the sub-comic-strip characters without flair. His talent emerges in the choreography, which, if sometimes lacking in finesse, is always spectacular. Thanks to accomplished dancers in glorious costumes, this is an exultant dance extravaganza. Nothing more." The Mail on Sunday

"The virtue of this ambitious Mumbai musical is that it introduces styles of dancing, from garba to lezim, that are largely unknown over here. There's a nagging feeling, however, that authenticity has been sacrificed to please new audiences. The writer, director and choreographer Rajeev Goswami also includes numbers that fuse the worst of East and West, and the video designs are so garish, they overwhelm the performers... Unsurprisingly, the dancers are more comfortable with movement than words. A potentially exciting dance show is stymied by the paltriest of stories and finally fails to live up to its title." The Sunday Times

Beyond Bollywood at the London Palladium previewed from 8 May 2015, opened on 11 May 2015 and closed on 27 June 2015.