Vicky and mala

Robby Khela as Vicky and Pia Sutaria as Mala. Pictures: Nicola Young.

Bombay Superstar

Coventry Belgrade


This world premiere bringing the colour, the dances, the costumes and the music of the golden age of Bollywood, the 1970s, is dripping with great, well-known tunes, dances and characters, and the melodramatic (and based on real life) storylines you’d expect from the richness of India’s cinematic age. It fizzes with energy and life.

The premiss of Bombay Superstar is that life behind the camera is a better story than any writer could concoct. The Bombay Superstar is Laila (Nisha Aaliya), the natural but disowned daughter of acclaimed Filmistan Studio’s director Dayal Din, known as DD (Chirag Rao).

All is documented gleefully by Pammi (Amar), wife to DD and cinema gossip columnist. Unaccompanied and unprotected, Laila is mugged and homeless as DD refuses her calls but Sikandar (Rav Moore), rising star, helps her to find a job, but at a rival studio.

Their love story is the meat of the show and brings attitudes to ‘the other woman’ to the fore. Her rise to fame is painful as she meets misogyny and sexual predators, but mostly the patriarchal attitudes of the successful male stars – except for Tiger (Yanick Ghanty) who is genuinely fond and supportive of Laila’s attempt to change the culture of Bollywood.

Sikandar and Laila

Rav Moore as Sikandar and Nisha Aaliya as Laila.

Pure delight is starlet Dolly (Sheetal Pandya) conned into marriage from obnoxious V for Vicky (Robby Khela) and barred from working. Her plan to change his mind is literally a killer!

Bombay Superstar is super enjoyable, and the audience clearly knew all the songs, all the moves and probably all the actors. It is a stellar cast with many famous faces and voices. I loved the surtitles displayed on the backdrop, and it made me laugh that, if things became a little naughty, they went into Hindi.

Dolly, to my mind, made a huge difference to the status of women in the Indian film industry by her plan to evade her husband Vicky’s dictat that she shouldn’t work after marriage. She wasn’t having it. And it proves the dictum that if you want change you start close to home. It was a brilliant contrast to Pia Sutaria's Mala, Sikandar’s wife, who stays at home with the baby and throttles her husband’s career with jealousy.

Written and directed by Samir Bharma with music by Hinal Pattani and 515 band this Phizzical Theatre production runs to 22-10-22.

Jane Howard


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