She might have had an impressive career on film, television and in the pop industry, but multi-talented star Preeya Kalidas is at her best on stage.
Ever since she won hearts in her lead role in iconic musical Bombay Dreams, the gifted singer and actress has consistently returned to her theatrical roots, and will, no doubt, be the one to watch in the hotly anticipated stage adaptation of Bend It Like Beckham. Preeya plays Pinky in the Gurinder Chadha-directed production, which features a new collection of songs and talented actors including exciting newcomers.
Eastern Eye caught up with Preeya during her intense rehearsal process to talk about the Bend It Like Beckham musical, football, fashion, cooking and more. Always engaging, Preeya surprised EE during the interview with a confession.
Do you find it easy to move between music, television, films and theatre?
I feel very fortunate that I am able to diversify my creativity in all four areas of the entertainment industry. It keeps me stimulated and also, I don’t believe you should be boxed in anywhere.
How does theatre compare to the others?
Performing on stage is very different to turning up on set for a film and what you do in that stays like that forever. But with a stage show like Bend It like Beckham, you get the chance to perform it again and again, which also lets you have continuous fun to play the character and let it evolve.
You have had a prolific career on stage. How much have the various theatre projects helped shape you?
I think your life experiences can help feed the emotional journey of a character. Also, working with a number of talented individuals in the various projects has definitely been inspiring.
Your greatest theatre success was, of course, hit musical Bombay Dreams. How do you look back on that project?
Bombay Dreams really was ground-breaking in that it was the first time a story about our community was represented on the mainstream stage and backed by one of the most successful men in that world, Andrew Lloyd Webber. To be at the forefront of that and be the first-ever British Asian to play the lead in a musical was a dream come true for me.
Tell us about the Bend It Like Beckham musical?
It is based on the hit film [of the same name] and it’s a new musical which is opening on Friday (15). It is a live show that will make you dance, laugh and cry. I will be playing Pinky, the fun-loving, marriage-obsessed sister of wannabe footballer Jess in the production.
How does the stage adaptation compare to the movie?
It’s the same story as the film, but woven in are some fantastic musical numbers that have been beautifully orchestrated and written by some of the best in the business. It is a nice amalgamation of Punjabi music fused with a West End/pop musical influence.
Are you worried that the expectations around it will be super high?
I’ve been on the Beckham musical journey from the start, which was about four years ago. The producers have been doing workshops of the songs and script, and whenever we did a run through, I cried every time. To me it’s a special show that is representative of the diverse community I know and love. I hope the audiences that come to watch it will feel the same.
Do you have a favourite moment in the musical?
(Laughs) Apart from my wedding number in the show, there is a song that Pinky and Jess’s dad sings called People Like Us, which is so beautifully written and poignant. It is about our parents who have come to this country to make a better life for themselves and I can’t listen to it without crying.
What has it been like working with Gurinder Chadha on a theatre project?
Gurinder is an inspiration and I love working with her. Bend It Like Beckham is so special to her for various reasons, so she pays attention to every single detail. I love the fact that she has incorporated some of her Punjabi musical favourites into the piece and made sure that the authenticity of the community is real.
Do you follow football yourself and do you support a team?
Growing up, I had my brother supporting Liverpool and a dad supporting Tottenham, so it was difficult deciding whose side to be on. (Laughs) So I decided to support Chelsea just to annoy them.
You wear striking outfits at red-carpet events. Who are your fashion inspirations?
My mum always made a point of looking nice when she stepped out the house, as she would always say you never know who you’ll meet.
So my early inspiration was my mum, but now as social media is so big and I am an avid Instagram user; that’s where I tend to find inspiration as there are a lot of stylish women out there.
What one fashion tip would you give?
Just remember that what may suit someone else may not suit you.
Your hair also gets a lot of attention. What is the secret of your glorious locks?
Crack an egg, mix with olive oil and use as a hair masque then wash.
What are your greatest unfulfilled ambitions?
(Laughs) To get married. Oops, did I just say that?
So what type of man will win you over?
The type of man who won’t jilt me during my wedding as he did in East Is East, have an affair with someone else like he did in EastEnders or leave me for 72 virgins in heaven like he did in the comedy Four Lions.
Are you a romantic?
It takes two for true romance to blossom, but yes, I do love romance.
You have achieved a lot, but what is your biggest motivation today?
I’m motivated every day by people I surround myself with – all positive beings who strive to do the best they can in whatever situation they are in.
What are the five things that you always have in your handbag?
My phone, MAC lipstick Lady Danger, house keys, bottle of water and phone charger.
What are your biggest passions away from work?
I love cooking. To me, any excuse for a dinner party as I love to cook for friends and I think they love it too. We have a WhatsApp group called Kalidas Kooks.
What inspires you today?
The idea that life is short, so get up, dress up, show up and never give up.
Finally, why should we all get tickets for the Bend It Like Beckham musical?
Nothing beats live theatre and we are bringing this fantastic film to life in a way that is so moving, uplifting and poignant. You can come on a date, with family or alone; regardless, I will guarantee you will have a good time. And the ice cream is really good in the interval.
Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical opens at the Phoenix Theatre in London on Friday (15). Visit www.phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk and www.benditlikebeckhamthemusical.co.uk to find out more.