PREPARE to be swept away to the dazzling world of Bollywood...

From the makers of Britain’s Got Bhangra comes the world premiere of Frankie Goes to Bollywood, a new musical inspired by real stories of British women caught in the spotlight of the world’s biggest film industry.

Prem Kapoor is an independent film-maker who comes from a family of film-makers. He wants to prove himself and change the world with his stories, but he feels lost in the world of mediocre Bollywood cinema.

Frankie never wanted to be a star. All she’s ever really wanted is a close, loving family. She loves watching Bollywood films because they remind her of her mother and a place where she can belong.

After a chance encounter with an up-and-coming director, Frankie finds herself in Bollywood, cast in a movie and thrust into the limelight. Might the Bollywood world provide her with the family and community she has always dreamed of? Suddenly Frankie is immersed in a world of fame and fortune but as she climbs the ladder of stardom, she realises that she has to sacrifice to reach the top.

Goldy is Frankie’s cousin, who works with her at the cinema. She dreams big but struggles to take action. She sees Instagram as the key to fame and is desperate to increase her followers.

Malika is a Bollywood starlet who knows her reign is limited. By playing the game, she has made it to the top of a ruthless world ruled by men - and now she’s waiting for the right opportunity to make her next move.

Raju is known as the ‘King of Bollywood’. For more than 25 years he’s done whatever he needed to maintain his position at the top, and the fame, adoration and power that comes with it.

Shakil Hussain as the 'King of Bollywood'Shakil Hussain as the 'King of Bollywood' (Image: Rifco Theatre Company)

Gigi Zahir is the most sought-after choreographer in the industry - and the secrets they know will keep them there.

Conceived by Pravesh Kumar, Artistic Director of Rifco - a theatre company that develops new plays and musicals - Frankie Goes to Bollywood is an all-singing-all-dancing tale of heroes and villains, with all the spectacle of a Bollywood movie. Set to a score blending traditional Bollywood music and western musical theatre, it’s a tale of what it means to be a British star in Bollywood.

The cast is headed by Laila Zaidi, whose theatre credits include Starlight Express and West Side Story, as Frankie and singer-songwriter Navin Kundra as Prem.

As an industry, Bollywood generates more than £2 billion a year. Its films have a global audience of 1.3billion. Frankie goes to Bollywood is inspired by Pravesh Kumar’s own experience of being a Brit in Bollywood, and by the experiences of British-born women in the industry.

The show explores what it's like to be a Brit in BollywoodThe show explores what it's like to be a Brit in Bollywood (Image: Rifco Theatre Company)

Says Pravesh: “A lot of the story is about a question of belonging. In some ways in the UK, British born South Asian people will still forever be seen by many as immigrants, no matter how many generations their families have lived in Britain.

“So forging a career in Bollywood, be that in front of or behind the camera, can be seen by those who go out there as something of a homecoming.

“But then being British born, and new to a lot of the culture, many of the women who go to work in the industry become acutely aware of the deeply ingrained sexism, not just within the industry itself but displayed on screen. And that’s something they have to address and decide how much of that disparity they can put up with.”

The show captures the romance of Bollywood The show captures the romance of Bollywood (Image: Rifco Theatre Company)

Adds Pravesh: “I wanted to highlight this issue because as the world fights for increased equality between genders, it’s men’s responsibility to shine a light on sexism and to call it out when they see it - at work, among their friends and in the wider world. I love Bollywood fiercely and this musical is, at heart, a celebration of the genre and the art and the people involved. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still hoping and pushing for change.

“My hope is that is this is a celebration of Bollywood - but at the same time a small catalyst for improved social standing for women in the industry, both behind the scenes and how they’re portrayed on the screen.”

Rifco Theatre has a long tradition of celebrating and reflecting contemporary British Asian experiences.

For Pravesh, who worked for a decade in Bollywood and also works in UK theatre and film, looking at the British South Asian experience plays a fundamental role in the development of Rifco’s productions and subject matter, focusing on untold stories and under-represented voices.

Frankie goes to Bollywood, says Pravesh, is a multi-layered piece of theatre. On one level it’s a British spin on the glorious visuals and romantic stories of Bollywood, with vibrant song and dance numbers and bold explosions of movement, colour and music. On another level it’s an exploration of the “darker undercurrent” of the industry, delving into its portrayal of women and the influence of this in India and the UK.

“A strong theme throughout my work has been platforming the experiences of working-class British South Asians, and I really drew on my inside knowledge of Bollywood in this case,” says Pravesh. “Frankie Goes To Bollywood is absolutely a celebration of everything that is glorious and spectacular about Bollywood and Indian heritage, but I also wanted to bring to light the often formidable circumstances young women face in particular. It was important to me to draw attention to, and question certain elements about the culture, including the double standards regarding modesty and the uncomfortable age difference between male and female performers.

“Throughout my life and career, I have developed a huge love for Bollywood and its traditions but I want my plays to have a realistic point of view and analysis alongside the celebratory element. It is vital that, as artists, we keep questioning and holding up a mirror to society.”

* Frankie Goes to Bollywood runs at the Alhambra from June 18-22. Call (01274) 432000 or visit