Bollywood Carmen Live

Bradford City Park

There was, of course, only one way for a Bollywood A-lister to make his entrance to Bradford’s Mirror Pool – riding an elephant.

Indian film star Abhay Deol beamed with delight as he worked the crowd in City Park, transformed into a stunning Bollywood set.

“I come from Mumbai, a city of film, to Bradford – your city of film,” he cried.

He wasn’t the only star of the show. With 3,000 spectators dancing in unison to Bollywood hit Jai Ho, the audience was a character in itself.

With gorgeous costumes, striking lighting, slick song-and-dance numbers and thrilling action, this was a fabulous production making full use of the open space, as the performers moved from a stage in Centenary Square to a set at the Mirror Pool.

Celebrating the centenary of Indian cinema, the show transformed the opera, about a gipsy girl who seduces two men with tragic consequences, into a Bollywood extravaganza, complete with a romantic dream sequence, a macho fight scene and a moving finale.

Set in Bradford, this version centred on a waitress called Carmen with her sights set a Bollywood star who rolls into town. When she spies her chance to get noticed, via a flashmob dance, she seals her own tragic fate.

Preeya Kalidas was terrific as the fiery temptress, while Abhay Deol oozed movie star charisma as Bollywood hunk AD and Stephen Rahman-Hughes was hauntingly good as Carmen’s spurned lover.

Great performances all round from a cast that also included Bradford actress Rachel Leskovac, Chelsee Healey, Meera Syal and Sofia Hayat.

Bhangra pioneer Kuljit Bhamra’s lively ‘mash-up’ score fused Bollywood-blinged pop hits such as Rihanna’s Diamonds, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and Cee Lo Green’s Crazy with Bizet’s arias, including Carmen’s Habanera and the Toreador Song.

Bringing it all to live were infectiously joyous dance sequences by renowned Bollywood choreographer Honey Kalaria.

There is something about Bollywood that spreads happiness, and last night Bradford basked in it – and showed the nation why it is the world’s first City of Film.