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Bombay Dreams  

Shekhar Kapur is the award-winning director of such films as the Western-made Elizabeth and Indian-made The Bandit Queen, who is co-author of the original concept for Bombay Dreams.

Andrew Lloyd Webber first met the award-winning Indian film-maker Shekhar Kapur over three years ago when they first spoke of bringing The Phantom of the Opera to the screen. Though that project is still in development, it fortuitously led to something else: the development of the major original new stage musical that is Bombay Dreams, and on whose original concept they both collaborated.

“I spoke to Andrew about a film I wanted to do called Bombay Dreams, and that’s where the whole idea came from. He immediately saw it as a good basis for a stage show instead. He’d just seen a Channel 4 documentary about Bollywood films and started to see a few of the films, too, because he was really impressed with their musical numbers. So I got a lot of CDs and DVDs to show him, and as he started to pick each song, I noticed that they came from the same composer. That composer was a very good friend of mine, AR Rahman, so I introduced them to each other.”

At this point, Kapur says, “I was still keep talking about this in terms of a film script, but I then followed Andrew’s lead as he wanted to make it into a musical. The script for a musical stage show is totally different, so I then became the person who would throw ideas at Andrew. The actual understanding of how all those characters could be strung into a cohesive story was all Andrew’s work, though. For me, it was just a great learning experience”.

Kapur, who began his career as a Film Director in Bollywood, broke out of it when one of the films he made there, The Bandit Queen, was shown in the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. “It became one of the most talked-about films at that festival,” he says, “and I got agents coming to me from America and Britain. It led directly to him directing Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, and proved to be his cross-over into international film-making. “Once I did that, it showed that there is a way to do it. Now I am trying to set up ways by which other Indian Directors can do the same thing”.

Kapur, who says that he “tries to help them all”, goes on, “I have become a focal point for directors with international aspirations.” And the importance of Bombay Dreams isn’t lost on him, either: “I’m really pleased that if not a director then one of Bollywood’s most famous Composers has come through with this.” He credits Andrew Lloyd Webber for taking the risk: “Nobody has ever mentioned what a brave step this is. In Britain, there’s a habit of putting down people who have really succeeded; but it’s got to be said that he just took this huge risk and leap. I always knew that Bollywood was ready to break out, but it’s only now that everyone is talking about it. Andrew, though, was talking to me about this three years ago. He is quite a visionary. And it’s created a space for many more musicals to follow.”

Mark Shenton

Posted on: 15th June 2002

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