• Saturday, July 20, 2024


Fabulous stage musical for Hindi cinema fans


By: Sarwar Alam

RIFCO THEATRE’S grand musical production, Frankie Goes to Bollywood, is the story of a young woman from Milton Keynes making it big in the shark-infested waters of the Indian film industry.

Frankie (Laila Zaidi) feels connected to her late mother through their shared loved of the opulent and melodramatic Bollywood films they used to watch together. For Frankie, the glitz and glamour of Hindi movies is worlds away from her life serving popcorn in a cinema. However, a chance encounter with a director leads her on a journey that sees her overcome the odds to create a place for herself in the highly competitive industry.

Writer and director Pravesh Kumar’s story follows the well-trodden path of musicals where an outsider realises their dream. But what gives this its identity are the dazzling costumes, colourful set designs, extravagant musical numbers, fast-paced choreography, and Bollywood masala clichés you’re unlikely to see in any other UK theatre productions.

While the musical’s comedy delivers plenty of laughter-filled moments, especially at the antics of Frankie’s ditzy cousin Goldie (Katie Stasi) and Raju (Shakil Hussain), a star actor who’s determined to control her personal and professional life, Kumar doesn’t shy away from the toxic nature of the industry.

An initially naïve Frankie is forced to deal with misogyny and go-up against the perils of an industry built on nepotism. At the show’s core are the powerful female performances, led by the charismatic Zaidi, the scene-stealing Stasi and Helen K Wint who plays ageing star Malaika.

The male actors are also given the platform to make their mark.

Navin Kundra as Prem, the director who discovers Frankie, sees his role lessen as the story develops but shares great chemistry with Zaidi – in fact, their duet literally had one woman crying in the audience.

As for Gigi Zahir, who plays Shona, he is an absolute riot as a camp, overthe-top choreographer whose loud outfits and one-liners keep Frankie’s spirits up on her troubled journey. This ambitious production is a funfilled evening that all ages will enjoy.

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