Inspired by true stories of Brits in Bollywood

Rifco Theatre Company is delighted to announce its most spectacular and ambitious musical to date is coming to the New Theatre in Cardiff from 16th – 20th July 2024.

Conceived by Artistic Director of Rifco, Pravesh Kumar MBE,  ‘Frankie Goes to Bollywood ‘is a spectacular all-singing-all-dancing tale of heroes and villains, with all the costumes and the spectacle of a Bollywood feature film. It tells the tale of being British in Bollywood and explores what it takes to get to the top.

Frankie never wanted to be a star, all she’s ever really wanted is a close and loving family – but after a chance encounter with an up-and-coming director, she finds herself transported to Bollywood, cast in a movie and thrust into the limelight. Might the Bollywood world provide her with the family and community she has always dreamed of?

Suddenly Frankie is immersed in the world of fame and fortune but as she climbs the sparkling staircase of stardom, each step makes her question about what she is willing to do, or be subjected to, for success.

Drawing inspiration from both traditional Bollywood music and the best of western musical theatre, the music for Frankie goes to Bollywood is a carefully integrated hybrid – designed to appeal to lovers of the Bollywood genre and also lovers of a good old West End extravaganza.

Bollywood as an industry generates over £2 billion a year, and globally the films have an audience of 1.3billion. In the UK a successful Bollywood film can be expected to take as much as £4 million – so it’s little wonder that the glamorous lure of Bollywood stardom appeals to many British-South Asian young people.

Frankie goes to Bollywood is inspired by those true stories of Brits in Bollywood.

Alongside a couple of very well-known British-born faces in Bollywood including Katrina Kaif and Alia Bhatt, there are also dozens more actors, both male and female born in Britain who have established successful careers. Frankie goes to Bollywood is inspired by many of their stories, and by Pravesh’s own experience of being a Brit in Bollywood, and by what he observed in terms of British-born women’s experience in the industry.

Pravesh says “A lot of the story is about a question of belonging. In some ways in the UK, British, born South Asian people, will still forever be seen by many as immigrants, no matter how many generations their families have lived in Britain. So forging a   career in Bollywood, be that in front of or behind the camera can be seen by those who go out there, as somewhat of a homecoming. But then, being British born, and new to a lot of the culture, many of the women who go to work in the industry become acutely aware of the deeply ingrained sexism, not just within the industry itself, but displayed on screen. And that’s something they have to address and decide how much of that disparity they can put up with.”

“I wanted to highlight this issue, because as the world fights the good fight for increased equality between genders, it’s men’s responsibility to shine a light on sexism, and to call it out when they see it – at work, amongst their friends, and in the wider world.

I love Bollywood fiercely and this musical is at heart, a celebration of the genre and the art and the people involved. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still hoping and pushing for change. So my hope is that is this work a celebration of Bollywood, but at the same time, a small catalyst for improved social standing for women in the industry, both behind-the-scenes, and how they are portrayed on the silver screen.”

Rifco Theatre has a long tradition of working to celebrate and reflect contemporary British Asian experiences, culture and society. Pravesh’s own experience working for a decade in Bollywood plays a fundamental role in the development of Rifco’s productions and subject matter, focusing on untold stories and under-represented voices. In ‘Frankie goes to Bollywood’ Rifco have created a multi-layered piece of theatre. On one level it offers a sumptuous British spin on the glorious visual and romantic stories of Bollywood; a breathtakingly colourful journey of romance, sweeping songs and vibrant dance; the big, bold explosion of movement, colour and music that ‘Bollywood’ immediately brings to mind. Yet this is   juxtaposed against an exploration of the darker undercurrent within the culture. Frankie Goes to Bollywood delves into the influence the film industry has on society’s views of women, both in India and for the 4 million South Asian residents of the UK.

Pravesh Kumar says “A strong theme throughout my work has been platforming the experiences of working class British South Asians, and I really drew on my inside knowledge of Bollywood in this case. Frankie Goes To Bollywood is absolutely a celebration of everything that is glorious and spectacular about Bollywood and Indian heritage but I also wanted to bring to light the often-formidable circumstances young women face in particular. It was important to me to draw attention to, and question certain elements about the culture. These include the double standards regarding modesty and the large and uncomfortable age difference between the male and female performers. Throughout my life and career, I have developed a huge love for Bollywood and its traditions but want my plays to have a realistic point of view and analysis alongside the celebratory element.”


Frankie Goes to Bollywood will play at the New Theatre, Cardiff from 16th – 20th July 2024. To book: