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Hooray for Bollywood but where does it lead?

Bring on the Bollywood, which opens at the Belgrade this week, discovered its star in a way that could have been scripted by Hollywood.

Nisha Aliya (pictured) went along to auditions for the hit musical hoping to secure a job as a choreographic assistant.

But her potential as a performer was spotted by the director and she was encouraged to pitch for the leading role.

In a storyline which could have been written for a musical, she won the coveted role of heroine katrina Pawar and a star was born.

On Saturday she will head a dynamic cast of British Asian performers and other young rising stars in the East meets West song and dance spectacular.

Director Samir Bhamra is delighted for her but is concerned that she, like other talented young Asians, will hit a glass ceiling when it comes to breaking through into mainstream musical theatre.

He said: "Andrew Lloyd Webber has rightly slammed the lack of diversity in musical theatre but, for me, the lack of opportunities for young British Asian performers goes much deeper.

I discovered Nisha by chance. She is an exceptional acting talent.

"However, like the majority of young South Asian performers, her only outlets for professional showcasing have been the Bollywood dance competitions.

"Without clearly defined pathways, formal training, and a diversity of roles, such talents can surely only rely on the chance few musicals that focus on Asian culture for a route into the West End.”

Joining Nisha is Avita Jay as Kangna, whose many theatre credits include, Spare (New Diorama Theatre), Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World (Southwark Playhouse, Battersea Arts Centre), Rapunzel (Park Theatre) and Silent Sisters (Hawth Theatre).

Anthony Sahota will play the part of Katrina’s mischievous, betrothed brother, Lucky.

Having recently starred as a finalist on Gary Barlow’s Let It Shine (BBC One), Anthony makes his professional acting debut alongside Robby Khela (Ronny).

Robby Khela’s work in music has seen him support pop acts such as Craig David, Blue, Lemar, Girls Aloud and Misteeq on tour. He re-joins Phizzical Productions for Bring On The Bollywood, having previously appeared in their previous national tour of What You Fancy (2007), a Bollywood adaptation of Twelfth Night.

Reprising their roles in Bring on the Bollywood, having previously appeared in the original 2016 production, are Rohit Gokani as Colonel Sunder Pawar and Sakuntala Ramanee as Lalita Pawar. A familiar face to the Belgrade Theatre, Yanick Ghanty will take to the B2 stage in the role of Amit, having performed in Eric Idle’s adaptation of The Owl and the Pussycat earlier in the year. His on stage fiancée, Rehka, will be played by Sophie Kandola, a graduate of the Guildford School of Acting.

Completing the cast are Subhash Viman (Shahrukh), Jo Bispham (Ensemble), Mithun Gill (Ensemble), Raheem Mir (Ensemble), Emiko Ishiii (Ensemble) and Kesha Reithatha (Ensemble).

The story of Bring on the Bollywood follows Dr Katrina Pawar who, having lived in London for 14 years, is summoned to her ancestral home, the shabby and un-chic Lakshman Villa, for her younger brother’s wedding. Sensing an opportunity to finally make a match for their last unmarried child during the festivities, Katrina’s parents search for a potential suitor for their quick-witted and resolute daughter.

As the good-looking Bollywood film director Amit arrives at Lakshman Villa, along with his newly eligible British personal assistant Ronny, Katrina must navigate the true course of love between East and West.

Bring on the Bollywood runs on the B2 Stage at the Belgrade Theatre from Sat 6 to Sat 13 May. Tickets are available now priced from £15 by calling the Belgrade Box Office team on 024 7655 3055 or visit

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