Phizzical: Belgrade Theatre Coventry and New Wolsey Theatre brings this Bombay/Bollywood style Musical to The Lowry Theatre for five nights only.
Artistic Director Samir Bhamra stated that Bombay Superstar was dedicated to his mum whose love for Bollywood cinema flowed between their veins. Bhamra witnessed many Bollywood films growing up where he saw larger than life stars unite people through their onscreen stories, inspiring him to create his 50th project in the hope to unite audiences in an era where people need to unify again.
It seems that most of the influential Bombay Superstar of the 1970-80s inspired his storyline specifically the flamboyant Rajesh Khanna of the early seventies. The story of Bombay Superstar tells the tale of a naive 16-year-old girl whose mother dies and goes in search of her biological father a successful director in Bombay. The product of a love child from an extra marital affair her ‘Appa’ Din Dayal (DD) refuses to acknowledge her to anyone apart from Tiger a rival movie mogul who discovers a letter acclaiming the truth of her parentage.
The story has the drama of any Bollywood plot with affairs, love, betrayal and revenge including a whodunnit section based on a real life 1982 accident in Bollywood that left an actor fighting for their life after a prop gun was replaced by a real revolver. There are quite a few interlinked storylines which seemed a little disjointed at times regarding the love triangles, unrequited love, deception, and determination of Laila (Nisha Aaliya) in her quest to become a Bombay star.
There are only two established vocals throughout the show that of Amar who plays Amma and Pammi a gossip journalist and Chirag Rao who plays Din Dayal the father and director. Both vocalists had a stunning vocal range who sang throughout whilst most of the cast lip synced to them.
Set to the soundtrack of the iconic Bollywood songs from the 70s and 80s the cast and five talented musicians under the direction of Hinal Pattani deliver what you would expect from a Bollywood musical.
It is a difficult one when the finest part of the show is the costumes, lighting and set design rather than the plot and acting on the stage but Bombay Superstar is one of those productions. I found myself drawn to glitz and glamour of the costumes and the fabulous choreography from Shruti and Rohan Shah from the Bollywood Dance School UK than anything else performed on stage. The set design and Mark Jonathan’s lighting design again was more impressive than the script itself, due to the fact that the songs and dialogue consisting of non-English words/lyrics there was a caption board above the set which provided the audience the translation it also included the entire English script throughout the performance. This was extremely helpful during the songs; however, unfortunately because the entire casts script was there to see I found myself reading each line which highlighted the errors of their delivery, especially Tiger’s understudy Adeel Ali who seemed to stray and ad hoc the entire script making it appear that he was unprepared to deliver the role of Tiger.
On a positive note, I feel I have to highlight the talent of the ensemble Alexandra Adams, Daisy Hardy, Pavan Maru and Aaron Mistry who danced so eloquently and delivered a superb performance throughout the evening.
Bombay Superstar personally was not one of my favourite performances, however I can see it will have an appeal for people/audiences who enjoyed the old style Bollywood films that explore Indian culture and social customs as well as the themes such as family ties. India’s film industry is the world’s largest in terms of films produced annually so I can imagine there is a lot of people out there that would enjoy this musical, but it was not for me I am afraid.
Well done to all involved and remember this is only one person’s review of the musical so keep entertaining and enjoying what you do as production team and a cast member.
Reviewer: Katie Leicester
Reviewed: 8th November 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★