Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Interview: Rajeev Goswami, writer, choreographer & director of Beyond Bollywood

Rajeev Goswami is the writer, choreographer and director of Beyond Bollywood which opens at the London Palladium in May, following the closure of Cats. 

Featuring an original score, Beyond Bollywood is described as a “theatrical experience never seen before outside a Bollywood movie”. The show opens on Monday 11th May 2015 (previews from 8th May) for a limited run of sixty performances.

Rajeev started his journey as a famed Bollywood choreographer working with the biggest names in the business and has also enjoyed a highly successful career as a pop artist in India. More recently, he has turned his considerable talents to direction, channelling his 15 years’ experience in the Indian film and music industry into the founding of RG Studios alongside renowned Bollywood lyricist Irfan Siddiqui.

I recently spoke to Rajeev about why it was his dream to bring Beyond Bollywood to London, what research went into creating the show and the journey audiences will be taken on…

Was it always your dream to bring Beyond Bollywood to the West End?
Yes, absolutely. It’s a dream which is coming to be true! I’ve put in all my hard work and experience over fifteen/seventeen years, I have a great crew and a lovely team to work with who have been my back bone. Everyone has done a fantastic job and we’re looking forward to rocking London! 

And you’re coming to the Palladium which is probably the West End’s most iconic theatre!
I was fortunate enough to say thank god we got the Palladium which is probably one of the best locations and theatres right in the heart of the city. I couldn’t ask for more, I have no complaints [laughs]!

London audiences are so diverse, are you looking forward to introducing Beyond Bollywood to new people who will never have seen anything like it?
Yes, definitely. London is one of my favourite places when it comes to travelling. Central London is always vibrant and exciting. Plus everybody is so into going to the theatre, they really appreciate it! There is so much diversity and people have the courage for standing up for something which is new, unique and different. I seriously always had this in my mind that I wanted to open the show in the West End, I’ve seen so many musicals over the years which have been a source of inspiration. As you said it is a dream come true; I’m getting a platform to showcase Indian talent and the creative ideas that I have with the audiences here. 

How long have you been working on the show now?
Actually it has been a while, it’s been three years. I did a lot of research first to come up with the concept – I travelled all around the world and had to take a break from my choreography career in Bollywood. I interviewed some of the theatregoing audiences in France, Germany and Australia and, of course, in London because I wanted to know what audiences had already seen and what they expect from a musical – what makes them laugh, what makes them cry and what makes them feel involved. After the research I came up with the concept. There is demand for Indian performing arts, it spans out in different places so I brought it all under one roof – the classical dances, the folk dances, the colours, costumes, symphonies and the music. I have tried to bring everything under one roof so it’s like a one stop shop where we showcase the diversity of Indian tradition, costumes, languages and religions. It will be new and there will be something for everybody in the show. 

What will audiences go through? I believe you’re going to take them on a journey through India!
I am bringing India to your doorstep! You will have a tour of India where you will go to the most known places as well as some sections you didn’t know about. There will be pleasant surprises! There will be lots of colours which India is very famous for, but also some more detailed information which you will get through my dances, costumes and scenes. 

Are you making any changes for the London run?
We were not expecting the Palladium to happen so soon, but we were fortunate to get these dates in May because we only launched the show last year. I did not want to open the show anywhere but London! The creative mind never stops, so after we launched the show every day there were new ideas evolving. I’m doing some minor changes for the Palladium to adapt the show for the audiences here and for the stage – the Palladium is big! We have to make some adjustments for the set design and costumes too to make it more juicy. 

Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Beyond Bollywood opens at the London Palladium on Monday 11th May 2015 (previews from 8th May) for a limited run of sixty performances. 
Please visit for further information and tickets.

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