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Bombay Dreams - The Musical

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Bombay Dreams is a musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose other work includes Evita, Starlight Express, Cats and Whistle Down The Wind. It is everything you'd expect from Lloyd Webber, loud, colourful and with fine attention to detail. This is enforced by the fact that Bombay Dreams continues the recent British passion for all things Indian, bringing Bollywood1 from the big screens of Asia to the stage.

The Story

Set in present-day India, the story follows the orphan Akaash on his rise to become a hit Bollywood movie star after escaping the city slums. Akaash falls in love with Priya, the beautiful daughter of the top movie director. Priya's ambition is to make serious films, but she is unhappily engaged to Vikram. Meanwhile, Akaash's best friend Sweetie looks on, knowing that her love must remain unrequited, as she is a eunuch.

With many unexpected twists, the plot sees Sweetie try to use Akaash's fame to save the slums. Will Akaash remember his roots, or will fame, and all it brings, make him forget?

The Music

To make Bombay Dreams sound as magical as it does, Andrew Lloyd Webber drafted in AR Rahman, a man who has had more hits than Madonna. Together with Don Black, a lyricist who has worked on several musicals with The Really Useful Company2, they have produced a catchy and irresistible soundtrack that mixes both English and Hindi lyrics. The track listing for the soundtrack album is as follows:

  • 'Bombay Awakes'
  • 'Bombay Dreams'
  • 'Like An Eagle'
  • 'Love's Never Easy'
  • 'Don't Release Me'
  • 'Happy Endings'
  • 'Ooh La La'
  • 'Shakalaka Baby'
  • 'Are You Sure You Want To Be Famous?'
  • 'I Could Live Here'
  • 'Only Love'
  • 'Chaiyya Chaiyya'
  • 'How Many Stars?'
  • 'Salaam Bombay'
  • 'Closer Than Ever'
  • 'Ganesh'
  • 'The Journey Home'
  • 'Wedding Qawwali'
  • 'Bombay Sleeps'

There are two big Bollywood numbers, 'Shakalaka Baby', a colourful piece involving fountains and later performed as an encore. The song was released in the UK, managing to reach No 38 in the British charts. The other is 'Chaiyya Chaiyya', sung completely in Hindi, translated as 'Walking Gently'. The rest divides up into heart-wrenching, often romantic ballads and more fun, energetic numbers.

The Original Cast

  • Akaash - Raza Jaffrey
  • Priya - Preeya Kalidas
  • Rani, ageing Bollywood superstar - Ayesha Dharker
  • Sweetie - Raj Ghatak
  • Kitty, a reporter - Shelley King
  • JK, 'The Big Boss' - Raad Rawi
  • Madan, Priya's father - Dalip Tahil
  • Vikram - Ramon Tikaram

Bombay Dreams is the first British musical to have an all-Indian cast. Raza Jaffrey is no stranger to West End musicals, having previously starred in Mamma Mia, a musical based on Abba's hits. Preeya Kalidas also had a small role in the hit British comedy, Bend It Like Beckham, about an Asian girl's dream to become a footballer.

1'Bollywood' is the name for the Indian movie industry, based in Bombay and nicknamed after Hollywood.2Andrew Lloyd Webber's production company.

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