Mesmerised By Mumbai: Grazia Goes ‘Beyond Bollywood’

We Popped To Mumbai To Peak Behind The Scenes Of Beyond Bollywood The Musical

Ana Ilmi as Shaily Shergill (2)

by Rachel Billings |
Published on

Grazia visits the Bollywood capital of Mumbai to see the 'Beyond Bollywood' cast prepare for their West End debut...

Girgaon Chowpatty

It’s Saturday night, midnight in Mumbai; the air is warm, light and a little sticky. A hotel porter wearing the most fantastic orange and purple turban has just offered the warmest welcome as he sweeps his arm out towards the amber lit street known as Marine Drive.

The road is full of cars, motorbikes, and horse drawn carts wrapped with neon lights. Mumbaikars are relaxing on the beach walkway, and boys cycle around with tins strapped to their racks filled with gallons of Chai tea.

The crowds of moon-bathing people are ever expanding with no rush or need to get home to bed... and I can completely understand why: in all it’s pandemonium, Mumbai is endearingly crazy.

Mumbai Scaffolding & Bride

Sunday afternoon arrives (jet lag got the better of us) we throw on the loosest clothing we own, and head on a long walk down the drive towards Chowpatty. Feeling particularly underdressed compared to everyone else’s ‘Sunday Bests’, even more so when passing a newly-wed bride; her arms heavy to the elbows with sparkling gold bracelets. We hop on a rusty old speedboat and head deep out to sea, absorbing the Arabian coastline and planning our 72 hours in India.

Eager to experience every yard of Mumbai in the three days we had there, we made haste for the markets. There are groups of women arranging flowers on every corner, men selling Indian sweets made from milk and lentils, dusted in a sugary metallic silver paper.

Mumbai Market

Streets are graced by what can only be described as a prayer station, occupied by a holy man who blesses you with water from the Ganges. There’s a constant melody of car horns, people singing to themselves and salesmen inviting customers to their stalls with ludicrously cheap bargains.

A Mumbaikar lady arranging flowers in the market
Mumbai Holy Man

Mumbai is the Bollywood capital of India; it’s the 7th most populated city in the world with over 13 million inhabitants. It’s also a city of parallels; nestled amongst the foundations of the billion dollar skyscrapers you’ll find rickety corrugated iron homes.

Dhobi Ghat

Seeing all of the sights of Mumbai meant our anticipation to visit the Beyond Bollywood cast rehearsals was reaching a frustratingly exciting high. We drove across town to the studios, where we were greeted with Masala Tea and energetic dancers.

Mehndi & Masala Tea

Beyond Bollywood is a one-of-a-kind all Indian musical production which is soon to be landing in the London Palladium this May.

Leading dance star – Mohit Mathur says Beyond Bollywood is going to bring ‘Bling, glitter, glitz and glamour’ with ‘Beautiful, Fantastic, Grand’ sets – I don’t for one minute doubt him.

The story tells the tale of leading lady Shaily Shergill, who travels from her home in Munich to India to fulfill her late mother’s departing wish. It’s a story of love, life lessons, with a touch of comedy and most importantly: Indian dance.

'Beyond Bollywood' Rehearsals
'Beyond Bollywood' Rehearsals
'Beyond Bollywood' Rehearsals

We sipped tea and shooed away mosquitos whilst watching the talented dancers passionately rehearse to the powerful music.

Even without their elaborate costumes, vivid sets and dramatic lighting, the dancers in their leggings, t-shirts and dusty bare feet involuntary forced our jaws to the floor and we immediately fell head over heels in love and wonderment with their performance.

Beyond Bollywood rehearsals

Beyond Bollywood is going to be the most magical and memorable musical to grace the UK in, well, ever.

It begins its 60 show run on the 8th May.

Tickets are available online from: HERE

Photography © Rachel Billings

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