| Preeya Kalidas, the original leading lady
London, March 25: There is good news and bad news about Bombay Dreams, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical which brought “Indian culture” to the masses.
After two very successful years, the show about the slum boy who makes it as a hero on to the silver screen is to close in London for a year on June 13, it was announced yesterday. Showbiz experts told The Telegraph they were not confident that the musical would return to the West End in London.
The news comes as Bombay Dreams is about to open for previews on Broadway this Sunday.
The show, which has music by A. R. Rahman, has helped to give Bollywood an even higher profile in Britain, but it is also true that Lloyd Webber cashed in on the growing popularity of the Hindi film industry in the country and not only among Asians.
Its demise, if that is what ultimately happens, would be a setback for those attempting to promote many other projects on the back of the Bollywood boom.
A statement from the producers in London said: “The London production closes at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 13 June prior to a remodelling on the New York lines in order to undertake a national tour, which will start early next year. The tour will culminate in a return to London’s West End. Plans are also well advanced for the making of a major feature film of Bombay Dreams.”
The statement added Lloyd Webber had visited the set of Bombay Dreams at the Broadway Theatre in New York and quoted him as saying: “Having been in New York, and seen some of the rehearsals for the show, I think the exciting developments that have been made in terms of the book, the score, and set designs mean that this is the show I would like to see in the UK.”
Since it opened in London, the show has been seen by over 1.5 million people and “recouped its original investment of £4.5 million in 15 months.”
It is known that Indians who invested money include Lakshmi Mittal, the steel tycoon who enjoys brief flirtations with Bollywood — he put some money into B4U but subsequently decided to reduce his links with this movie channel.
As for Bombay Dreams, the statement said “the cast recording, which is a massive top-selling record in India, has become a Gold Album in the UK, with sales approaching £250,000”.
But Jeremy Wooding, the English director of a Bollywood movie, Bollywood Queen — his central character, Preeya Kalidas was the original leading lady when it opened — said: “After two years the show has reached the end of its capacity. Currently, it lacks big stars such as Preeya Kalidas, Raza Jaffrey and Ayesha Dharker who were in the original cast.”
“Andrew Lloyd Webber is also concentrating on his new $80-million film, Phantom of the Opera, which has been shot and is being edited. Now that Bombay Dreams is opening in New York, he wants to close London and grow the Broadway show.”