Previewed 31 May 2002, Opened 19 June 2002, Closed 13 June 2004 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London
A feast for the senses, Bombay Dreams combines the glamour of the movies, heart-aching romance and epic spectacle. It tells the story of Akaash a young slum dweller, who dreams of becoming a huge movie star, and of his fateful encounter with beautiful Priya, the daughter of one of Bollywood's greatest film directors. Can he achieve his dream of stardom or will this come at a price? Will Akaash and Priya's love survive? And will they find, like in all the best Bollywood movies, their happy ending?
The story of Bombay Dreams is one of universal themes - dreams and ambitions, the desire to accomplish and the importance of culture and roots. And at its heart it is a love story set against the backdrop of the colourful and magical Indian movie industry - 'Bollywood' - in Bombay, a city of stark contrasts where romantic fantasy and harsh reality live side by side. With the hero, Akaash; the heroine, Priya; the temptress, Rani; the movie mogul, Madan; the big boss, JK;, the dreamer, Sweetie; and the gossip columnist, Kitty.
The original cast for Bombay Dreams in London featured Preeya Kalida as 'Priya', Raza Jaffrey as 'Akaash' and Ramon Tikaram as 'Vikram' with Ayesha Dharker as 'Rani', Raj Ghatak as 'Sweetie', Sophiya Haque as 'Miss Mona', Shelley King as 'Kitty', Raad Rawi as 'JK' and Dalip Tahil as 'Madan'. The production has music by AR Rahman, lyrics by Don Black and book by Meera Syal, based on an idea by Shekhar Kapur and Andrew Lloyd Webber, it is directed by Steven Pimlott with choreography by Anthony Van Laast and Farah Khan.
"Bombay Dreams, a loving, lavish celebration of Bollywood... brings a breath of India, a new sound, new choreography, a whole new style and vibrancy with it... Moreover, it's not simply a welcome change from revivals and musical tribute shows, but a case of the empire striking back. Bombay Dreams may not be the hottest thing to come out of India since the vindaloo, but at its best it's as exotic and enticing as one's first taste of curry. Anything can happen in a Bollywood movie and, generally, most of it does... The score is by tiny composer A.R. Rahman, who is huge in India. He's sold more records than Madonna and Britney put together and it's easy to see why. Poppy, melodic, catchy, mushy, slushy, moody and, when he wants to, a spine-tingling romantic sweep... Mark Thompson's evocative set designs cast a gaudy spell. The actors, mainly unknown British Asians, bring a refreshing, wholesome lack of sophistication to the show you can't fail to warm to." The Mail on Sunday
"Andrew Lloyd Webber's extraordinary new production Bombay Dreams starts falteringly. But as the entirely predictable, yet infectious, story develops you can't help being seduced by its energetic charm. And there can be no doubt that the wonder of East has worked its magic in the West End... In Raz Jaffrey - who brilliantly plays the lead - a singing star is born. He is well complimented by leading lady Preeya Kalidas, villainous Raad Rawi and Shelley King's bitchy gossip writer Kitty Ge Souza. Bombay is a mesmerising city and for a worrying while I wandered whether this musical would capture its unique specialness. But the show's finale unfolds in exuberant and exciting fashion. Lord Lloyd Webber has another hit on his hands." The Daily Mirror
"The composer, A.R. Rahman, has supplied some pleasantly plaintive numbers and one or two stirring ones... There is fine dancing, and some of the visual effects have a good deal of charm... As for the cast, the young leading couple - Raza Jaffrey and Preeya Kalidas - are personable and efficient, and there are some engaging character sketches. Ayesha Dharker and Raj Ghatak both score, one as a veteran Bollywood love goddess, the other as a cynical but gallant eunuch called Sweetie. Shelley King unsheathes formidable claws as a showbiz journalist. It's true that the story is as preposterous as anything dreamt up by Bollywood itself... None of this is enough to add up to a hit, however. The book is often weak, the lyrics are dull, and many of the routines in Steven Pimlott's production are just that - routine." The Sunday Telegraph
"It's no good knowing, as the show's producer Andrew Lloyd Webber says he does, that the keystone of a musical is its book, if you can't tell a good one from a bad. Meera Syal, famous for catty humour, has provided plenty of put-downs but none of the big, heartfelt emotions from which a musical's songs must spring... The only consistent tone is one of cheap, empty knowingness, which, at times plunges to an appallingly low level of taste... The composer, A R Rahman, has written a few attractive phrases but simply repeats them without variation, or lets them sink into a sea of mush. The principal sound is an impersonal disco noise, and Don Black's pedestrian lyrics don't repay close listening. The two leads, Raza Jaffrey and Preeya Kalidas, are, like the music, no more than blandly pleasant." The Independent
Bombay Dreams in London at the Apollo Victoria Theatre previewed from 31 May 2002, opened on 19 June 2002 and closed on 13 June 2004.