AN ACCLAIMED choreographer bringing a Bollywood musical to the West End said he will showcase a “meaningful and informative” performance for audiences.
Beyond Bollywood, to be staged at the London Palladium for a 60-day run, will celebrate the history and resonance of Indian arts.
Featuring hundreds of costumes and a cast and crew of 45, Rajeev Goswami described the show as an “authentic cultural tour of India”.
“It’s not just about people leaving their minds back home and watching people shaking their legs. It’s more meaningful, interesting and informative; yet not boring,” Goswami told Eastern Eye.
“Audiences should expect fun, dance, music and a lot of Indian cultural traditions which we try to bring through to the stage. There are scenes which give facts about India and the reason why we dance so much. We also explain the background of a particular dance.”
Goswami has worked on over 300 Bollywood shows and concerts, including co-choreographing and acting in awardwinning The Merchants of Bollywood during its Australian and New Zealand run.
The 40-year-old also trains Bollywood stars, working with Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukerji and Kajol. He said: “I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and it’s a dream come true performing here. No Indian show has hit the West End at this level at the Palladium. “I have travelled abroad extensively, but performing in the West End is a different ball game. It’s very different to the audiences we’re usually performing in front of.”
Rehearsals have been taking place in Mumbai, with dancers putting in 10 hours of practice a day.
“When it comes to training, we’ve learned the hard way as I feel there’s no easy way to success. You need to go through that grinding (stage) and that’s what I’m doing to my students and crew.
“We’ve got to perform in front of the audience. The platform we’re getting is the West End, which is really respected. We are representing the Indian form of dance, Indian culture and Indian tradition, so I want to leave no stone unturned,” he explained.
“My dancers are giving their best and I have no complaints. They are as equally as enthusiastic about doing the show as me. They’re working hard on their bodies, their dance style, and everything I want from them.”
Goswami, who got into dancing durng his college years, credits Bachchan as his role model.
“Any Indian dancer my age would say they started dancing because of Amitabh Bachchan. “Dancing was my first love. It’s always been my hobby. Though it’s my profession now, I would say I’m driven by my passion for it.
“I had to train myself; I used to learn dancing while doing my homework for school. Back in the days, we used to watch videos of Michael Jackson and MC Hammer.”
Beyond Bollywood which explores traditional folk dances Bihu, Garba, Kathak, Lezim, Bhangra and Kalbelia, tells the story of Shaily Shergill, a young Indian girl who leaves her home in Germany for India to fulfill her late mother’s dream.
The UK premiere will take place at the London Palladium on Friday (8).