2022 marked 20 years since the original, London production of Bombay Dreams premiered in the West End at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 19 June 2002. Inspired by Hindi cinema, or Bollywood, Bombay Dreams has music by A. R. Rahman, lyrics by Don Black with the book by Meera Syal and Thomas Meehan. It was originally produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Among the original cast were Preeya Kalidas (Bend It Like Beckham, East Enders) as Priya, Raza Jaffrey (Code Black, Homeland) as Akaash, Ayesha Dharker (Star Wars, The Father) as Rani, Dalip Tahil (Baazigar, Raja) as Madan, and Ramon Tikaram (This Life, Game of Thrones) as Vikram.
On New Year’s Day, BBC Radio 2 dedicated a two-hour feature to the production. Host Kalidas delved into the world of Bombay Dreams by interviewing her fellow cast members, as well as the creative team, and playing musical numbers from the show, including Love’s Never Easy and hit single Shakalaka Baby.
Kalidas describes Bombay Dreams as “the first Bollywood musical to take the world by storm, […] catapulting Indian culture and music to the mainstream.” She goes on to say that the show “was brought to a mainstream stage because of Andrew Lloyd Webber.”
In Andrew’s interview, he explains that the music of the “incredibly talented musician” A.R. Rahman was the inspiration for the show. Andrew contacted Rahman, with whom he became close “pretty instantly” before travelling to Mumbai to start developing the musical together. “Quite honestly, as a composer myself, it was a privilege to present somebody’s music of that talent.”
The producer and his leading lady compared the Bombay cast to a “family,” with Andrew saying “I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed putting on a show as a producer more than Bombay. It really was wonderful.”
You can listen to the rest of Andrew’s interview, and to the entire show, now on BBC Sounds.