Bollywood’s Shah Rukh Khan to headline Ilford promoter’s arena show

Shah Rukh on the US leg of this year's SLAM+ tour. Picture: Sterling Media

Shah Rukh on the US leg of this year's SLAM+ tour. Picture: Sterling Media - Credit: Archant

The man who brought Bollywood to Britain is back with another awe-inspiring spectacular.

Bollywood promoter Farhath Hussain. Picture: Sterling Media

Bollywood promoter Farhath Hussain. Picture: Sterling Media - Credit: Archant

Veteran events organiser Farhath Hussain, of Ilford, is preparing to put on the biggest show of his life at The O2, Greenwich.

Farhath, who has spent more than 28 years in show business, is due to put on a song and dance extravaganza with a star-studded line-up including the likes of Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Madhuri Dixit and Abhishek Bachchan to name a few.

The pioneering promoter is hoping to top the show he put on more than 10 years ago with Shah Rukh – when he sold out the Wembley Arena over two days.

Farhath said: “I have given my life to this business – it’s my dream job. When you’re young a lot of people want to get into showbusiness and I wanted the same.

Saif Ali Khan and Shah Rukh Khan with Bollywood promoter Farhath Hussain. Picture: Sterling Media

Saif Ali Khan and Shah Rukh Khan with Bollywood promoter Farhath Hussain. Picture: Sterling Media - Credit: Archant


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“I came up with the idea to find actors and celebrities and bring them to the UK and put on shows here 28 years ago and I’m still doing it.”

Farhath’s O2 event, SLAM+, will see more than 15,000 Bollywood fans pack out the arena to witness the 135-strong cast of performers and catch a glimpse of the second highest paid actor in the world, Shah Rukh Khan, who’s headlining the show.

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Farhath said: “Khan is the number one star in India, they call him King Khan – he’s an international icon now.

“To think that I was working in the business years before he came into the industry and became popular is amazing.”

Deepika Padukone on the US leg of this year's SLAM+ tour. Picture: Sterling Media

Deepika Padukone on the US leg of this year's SLAM+ tour. Picture: Sterling Media - Credit: Archant

The legendary promoter, who is a familiar name in Indian film industry circles, says Bollywood couldn’t be more popular in Redbridge.

“These shows are in high demand – there have been times when tickets have sold out within three or four hours of opening the box office.”

Farhath admits the global appeal of Bollywood has helped his business flourish – selling out shows internationally.

“I’ve promoted shows all over the world and it’s not just in places where there are large South Asian communities.”

Abhishek Bachchan on the US leg of this year's SLAM+ tour. Picture: Sterling Media

Abhishek Bachchan on the US leg of this year's SLAM+ tour. Picture: Sterling Media - Credit: Archant

He added: “We sold out in Germany to a very different kind of audience.”

The promoter’s long career has allowed him to see the Indian film industry evolve into a global phenomenon.

Farhath said: “There has been change for the better, it’s changed drastically, especially over the past six years – it’s become even more of a worldwide thing, it’s an international market now.”

He added: “The films have a massive appeal. I think that the biggest draw is that the films are very different from Western cinema in that they’re like musicals and people like learning about the culture too.”

There is money to be made in the competitive Bollywood market with Khan’s 2013 hit film Chennai Express being named as one of the highest grossing Hindi films of all time, raking in an impressive £42.5million globally.

Fahath said: “It’s a very risky industry to be a part of because you can lose everything, even I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs – anything could happen.

“It’s all very high budget now, it costs me 20 times more to put on a show than it used to, but that’s the expectation now.”

Farhath, who still gets nervous before tickets go on sale, is constantly aware of his name being attached to his shows and the pressure that comes with it.

He added: “All these years of hard work can go down the drain in an instant and The O2 show is the biggest of my career.

“But it’s quite simple if you follow the right formula, so I’m confident it will be truly magical and mesmerising, like nothing ever seen before on this scale.”

Get tickets for the show, which takes place tomorrow, from axs.com, or by calling 084 4824 4824.

Read more:

Ilford cinema to screen best of Bollywood

Newbury Park Bollywood dance academy opening its doors for free taster sessions on Sunday

Bollywood night by Redbridge Rotarians raises thousands

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