• Thursday, June 20, 2024

Entertainment

Navin Kundra: ‘There’s nothing else like Frankie Goes To Bollywood’

 The popular British music star has combined his acting, dancing and singing skills for brand new musical Frankie Goes To Bollywood.

Navin Kundra

By: Asjad Nazir

HAVING studied drama at school and carved out a successful career as a singer/songwriter, acting on stage was always going to be an inevitable next step for Navin Kundra. 

 The popular British music star has combined his acting, dancing and singing skills for brand new musical Frankie Goes To Bollywood. Having seen this as the perfect project and time to take that leap, he plays a lead role in the latest stage production from pioneering British theatre company Rifco.  

He is looking forward to connecting with live audiences in a new way with a show that has received a positive response, since it recently premiered.  

Eastern Eye caught up with Kundra to discuss his creative journey, debut theatre play, character he plays, inspirations and future plans.

How do you reflect on your creative journey so far? 

 It truly has been a magical journey. It started with a dream of wanting to write songs and become a singer, which came true. I’ve been blessed with so much more. My music has taken me around the world and given me this wonderful life with all these incredible opportunities that are far beyond my dreams.  

I’m also very lucky to have such an incredibly loyal audience that support me, and don’t ever take them for granted.  

What did you most like about Frankie Goes to Bollywood?  

There is so much I love about it. Firstly, it is superbly written by Rifco founder and director Pravesh Kumar.  

The captivating, moving, entertaining and thought-provoking story has an important message. The songs written by Tasha Taylor Johnson and the music composed by Niraj Chag are stunning and powerful. This was important as I’ve built my career in music. I also love the cast and being part of such a talented and dedicated team. Life as a solo artist can feel lonely, and Frankie Goes to Bollywood has given me a new family.

Tell us about the character you play. 

 I play Prem Kapoor. Prem is a talented upcoming director who wants to make films that change the world. He is fed up with Bollywood churning out the same kind of movies. He’s also a romantic and wears his heart on his sleeve.  

At a preview of his first film, he meets Frankie by chance, and to find out more, you’ll have to come and see the show. 

 What is your own favourite moment in the play? 

 Too many to say. There were several moments while reading the script where my jaw just dropped. I’m sure yours will too when you come to see it.  

Do you have a favourite song in the show?  

It’s full of great songs, but my absolute favourite is Billion Colour Love Story. 

 It’s so whimsical, romantic, and dreamy. I loved the song so much that I recorded a version with talented singer Sonna Rele and we released it online. It’s available to watch on YouTube. I can’t wait to sing it live on stage every night.  

How does acting on stage compare to singing live?  

I have to do both in this show. I would say it’s a different muscle and stamina that’s required in musical theatre. Singing on stage is my comfort zone – I’ve been doing it for over a decade now. But acting, singing and dancing on stage night after night is a new experience for me. It’s much more challenging and I’m having fun while working hard preparing for it.  

What has it been like working with acclaimed theatre director Pravesh Kumar? Watching Pravesh work is a sight to behold. I couldn’t have asked for a better director to make my debut with. He is so deeply dedicated to making this show the best it can be and knows how to bring out the best in his team. 

 He’s very open and collaborative in his approach, and his work ethic is truly inspiring Many of the other actors come from music theatre schools where they are formally trained, whereas I have not, so was nervous about working with such an acclaimed director and whether I would be able to keep up with everyone else in the process.  

Pravesh has been very encouraging and patient with me and is sensitive to this being my first musical. I’m learning so much from him every day. Him putting his trust in me to bring such an important character in his story to life on stage makes me want to match his level of dedication to the project. He also has something to say with this production that is greater than the story itself and I respect him a lot for that. 

 How do you feel about embarking on a UK tour with this show? 

 I’m so excited. We will travel the length of the UK and I can’t wait to see everyone’s reactions to the show.  

Have you learned anything new while working on this show?  

So much. During the first week, it felt like I was going to a boot camp in musical theatre and there is so much to learn in this new world that I find myself in. 

 I’ve been keeping a diary and constantly taking notes of new things that I’m learning. In many ways it feels like going back to school. I’ll only share those notes with my VIP fans. (Smiles) You can sign up at navinkundra.com 

 Will you now be balancing both acting and singing?  

I would love to. Let’s see what everyone thinks. If there are any good acting agents out there, get in touch. 

 What’s your favourite Bollywood film?

 Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. It’s the first film I ever saw in a cinema. It has stayed with me ever since. To me, that movie is Bollywood at its best. 

Navin Kundra in Frankie Goes To Bollywood 2 scaled
A scene from ‘Frankie Goes to Bollywood’

 What can we expect on the musical front from you?  

Much more new music and some exciting collaborations. The songs are ready to go but I will most likely release them later in the year as I’m spending all my time on the Frankie musical right now. 

 Today, what inspires you? 

 The timeless dance between creativity and connection. 

 As a singer/songwriter stepping onto the stage of a new musical theatre production, I’m ignited by the opportunity to develop and showcase a different side of myself, and yet not myself at all as I portray a different character in a fictional world.  

It’s the shared moments of emotion and the silent understanding exchanged through melodies that fuel my passion for creating art. And today more so than ever before. 

 What do you mean?  

I believe that in a world often divided, it’s the love exchanged between a performer and audience that reminds me of our shared humanity, inspiring me to pour my heart into every performance.  

Today, as always, it’s the magic of storytelling and power of love that propel me forward on this exhilarating journey. 

 Why should we all come watch Frankie Goes to Bollywood? 

 There’s nothing else like it and it’s the first time I’m performing in a musical theatre production. 

 (Laughs) No, it’s not all about me. This isn’t just another show – it’s a celebration of diversity and a rare gem in the world of South Asian theatre. Shows like this don’t really get made. It’s a story for you, one that is relevant to you and represents you. So, if you don’t support south Asian art, who else will? It’ll be a fun night out and an unforgettable experience you can share with your family and friends. It will ignite your senses and leave you longing for more.  

Frankie Goes to Bollywood has begun a UK tour after its run at the Watford Palace Theatre ended last week. The shows at HOME in Manchester will run from Wednesday (15) until next Saturday (25). www.rifcotheat 

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