Bombay Dreams

Book by Meera Syal and Thomas Meehan, based on an idea by Shekar Kapur and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Music by A R Rahman. Lyrics by Don Black. Punjabi lyric on “Wedding Qawali” by Sukwinder Singh. Hindi lyric on “Chaiyya Chaiyya” by Gulzar. Additional music and lyrics on “Shakalaka Baby” by Marius de Vries. Additional lyrics by David Yazbek. The original West End (London) production ran from 19 June 2002 – 13 June 2004 for a total of 824 (?) performances. The original Broadway production ran from 29 April 2004 – 1 January 2005 for a total of 284 performances. The show was directed by Steven Pimlott, with choreography by Anthony Van Laast and Farah Khan.

Synopsis and Musical Numbers

Bombay Dreams is a love story set against the backdrop of the Indian movie industry: Bollywood. Akaash, a young slum dweller, dreams of becoming a huge movie star. In the meantime, he works as a tour guide in Bombay, introducing tourists to the city he loves (SALAA’M BOMBAY). When the tour is over, he returns home to his grandmother, Shanti, and his best friend Sweetie, a eunuch. He donates part of his earnings to the communal collection, with which the group is trying to purchase the land on chich they live. Contractors show up to tell them the land has been bought, and they would need to raise millions to buy it themselves. Akaash promises to provide the money as soon as he becomes a famous movie star (BOLLYWOOD).

BOMBAY DREAMS

The original cast of BOMBAY DREAMS

Vikram, a lawyer who has heard about the tentants’ plight, arrives in the slum to offer his services. Shanti invites him into her home, along with his fiancé, Priya. Vikram explains that he will work pro bono. Although Sweetie and Akaash are skeptical, they eventually agree. When Akaash discovers that Priya is involved in the movie industry – her father, Madan, is a film director – he tries to get her to cast him but she explains that she hasn’t actually made any movies yet. The only job she’s managed to get is for directing is the Miss India pageant. Sweetie comes up with a plan to sneak Akaash into the pageant and get him some exposure (LOVE’S NEVER EASY).

Madan and Vikram both support Priya at the Miss India telecast. Madan also wants her to fix the contest so he can win a bet, ensuring he’ll have enough money to hire Rani, the leading Bollywood actress, for his new film. Rani and the contestants perform for the audience (LOVELY, LOVELY LADIES). Just as the winner is announced, a group of feminist protestors – including Akaash – crash the pageant. Akaash grabs a microphone, and leads Rani and the contestants in the lively BHANGRA. He and the other protestors are thrown in jail for their efforts, but Rani convinces the policemen to free Akaash, telling Madan that she will only do the movie if Akaash stars opposite her. It seems that all Akaash’s dreams are coming true at last.

BOMBAY DREAMS

The original cast of BOMBAY DREAMS

On the set of the film, Diamond in the Rough, Akaash is having some trouble staying in character as the crew attempts to film SHAKALAKA BABY. Priya talks to him privately, encouraging him to think more about the character and less about being on camera. He begins to make some headway (I COULD LIVE HERE). Sending him off to re-join the shoot, Priya considers the emotions that Akaash brings out in her (IS THIS LOVE?).

It’s the night of film’s premiere, and Akaash now lives in a gorgeous new apartment. Shanti arrives but Rani turns her away, saying that it’s vital that nobody knows of Akaash’s true origins. The high society guests arrive for the pre-show party and warn Akaash of the pitfalls of being FAMOUS. At the premiere, the movie turns out to be a huge success. Sweetie, Shanti and the other tenants from from the slum cheer Akaash on, but when Sweetie tries to approach Akaash, he pretends not to know her. Shanti and Sweetie are devestated, and Priya tries to comfort them while Akaash and Rani move on to another party (LOVE’S NEVER EASY – REPRISE).

BOMBAY DREAMS

The original cast of BOMBAY DREAMS

At the Indian Film Awards, the cast of Diamond in the Rough perform a song from their film, CHAIYYA CHAIYYA. Akaash wins the award for Best Actor but Rani is beaten by another actress. At Akaash’s new mansion, the cast and crew continue to celebrate their success. Priya confronts Akaash about his treatment of his family and friends and he tries to explain to her why he can’t go back. They both acknowledge their feelings for each other (HOW MANY STARS?). However, Rani and Vikram find them and Vikram warns Akaash in no uncertain terms to stay away from Priya. That proves to be a difficult task – as Priya has cast Akaash in her new film, Bombay Dreams. Rani insists on playing the lead. But when she disagrees with the way that Priya decides to protray the heroine, Rani quits the movie and dumps Akaash at the same time.

Sweetie arrives to ask for Akaash’s help – the final appeal to save the slum land is to happen in court the next day. The tenants of Paradise Slum need Akaash to support them, as his fame and influence will save the slums from being demolished. But Akaash is still unwilling to give up the life he has found and he sends her away. Priya and Sweetie both wonder why they love a man who could behave in such a way (HERO).

BOMBAY DREAMS

The original cast of BOMBAY DREAMS

At the slum, Sweetie arrives with bad news: the appeal has failed and the land has been lost. Shanti urges them all to forget it for the moment and celebrate the feast of Ganesh. Later, the contractors turn up to gloat over their victory and tell Sweetie that they will begin demolishing the area that night. It is not nearly enough time for the inhabitants to move out and Sweetie implores them to speak to Vikram. The contractors laugh – why would they talk to Vikram when he is the one ordering the demolition? Sweetie realizes they have been betrayed and runs to tell Akaash and Priya (GANESH PROCESSION).

Sweetie sends Munna to tell Akaash and then confronts Vikram. He admits his deceit, but tells Sweetie that no one will believe her. When she says Akaash will believe her, Vikram tells her that Akaash will not come to her aid any more than he has before. Sweetie then threatens to tell Priya the truth about Vikram before their marriage that evening. That sends Vikram over the edge and he shoots Sweetie. Akaash arrives just in time to see his friend die. He realizes that he cannot continue with the lie he’s been living (THE JOURNEY HOME).

Akaash arrives just as the bulldozers are moving in. Starstruck, the contractors leave for the evening. The group rejoices at Akaash’s homecoming, while also mourning for Sweetie. But Akaash still has to tell Priya the truth about Vikram before it’s too late. He arrives at the wedding, and tells her everything. Vikram tries to kill him too, but Priya comes to his aid. Vikram is taken away and, rather than waste a perfectly good wedding, Akaash and Priya get married – starting off their life together with one perfect kiss (WEDDING QAWALI).

Discussion

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