Frankie Goes To Bollywood

The glitz and glamour of Bollywood has been gracing the big screens in India for decades. Fast forward to 2024 and we are transported to Milton Keynes in the U.K. and find Frankie, a girl obsessed with the genre and yearning after her mother who passed away when she was a child. This show by Rifco Theatre Company is a fun, colourful and energetic look at Bollywood, with all its high and lows and was a very enjoyable night out.

Laila Zaidi as Frankie was a pure delight from start to finish with some incredible vocal performances from quite a demanding range of songs, most of which were in her higher register, however combining control and power, Zaidi was able to deliver. Playing her ‘sister cousin’ Goldy was Katie Stasi whose vocal prowess also impressed, especially during her Act 2 solo number which was delivered with emotion and power. The pair had great chemistry as best friends and were a joy to watch.

In a chance meeting at the cinema where Frankie works, she meets Bollywood Director Prem played by Navin Kundra who makes her dream come true by casting her in his next big film. Moving away from all she knows and her best friend Goldy, Frankie is excited to finally be in the thick of it and where her Mum should have been all those years ago, however it’s not long before her attitude changes and we see how fame and fortune can alter a person.

There are many tongue in cheek moments surrounding the Bollywood film world and the many ‘cringeworthy’ moments that the art form is known for. Slow motion moments, lingering looks and dramatic exits aplenty, made for some humorous moments, judging from the laughs of many of the audience members who were perhaps more familiar with the genre than me.

Dhruv Ravi as Raju King, the ‘King’ of Bollywood played his role with gusto. Spoilt, entitled and misogyny were amongst his “qualities”, all of which came across with a large amount of laughs, not withstanding his hair, which deserved its own blockbuster film! We also meet Malika (Helen K. Wint), the older Bollywood starlet being replaced by Frankie who was a protective eye. Another stand out vocal came from Wint during her time on stage.

The book by Pravesh Kumar MBE was perhaps a little predictable in its execution. Girl heads off to find fame and fortune, realises the world she has been transported into, wants to make a change to the very male orientated business of Bollywood movies and writes her own film with female empowerment at the forefront. There were a few scenes which felt a little too elongated and the show could be at least 15 minutes shorter in my opinion.

The costuming (Andy Kumar) and lighting (Philip Gladwell) really did elevate this show. For anyone familiar with Indian dress will instantly know the look of the very elaborate outfits, and there was plenty of gold thread on show, making for a beautiful visual spectacle. The lighting was colourful and impactful throughout the show with the use of spotlights and bringing the proscenium arches to life with an array of colour.

Whilst the music and lyrics may not be playing around your head as you leave, there are some nice musical moments all with a Bollywood sound. For me personally, I would have loved some bigger Bhangra type dance routines showcasing this wonderful style of dance which is extremely infectious.

The ensemble cast worked tirelessly, not only delivering some high energy dance routines, but assisting in scene changes. Some of the routines could have been slightly tighter, however it didn’t detract from the enthusiasm on display.

Frankie Goes To Bollywood is a feel good, empowering musical with a talented cast and a high energy vibe. 

This show was reviewed on the 11th June 2024 at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre where it runs until the 15th June 2024.  Tickets available here: FRANKIE GOES TO BOLLYWOOD | Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Review written by Emma Rowley


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