Ilford teenager to star in Bollywood inspired play about friendship and courage
PUBLISHED: 11:00 06 September 2018
Weeks after finishing his A-levels an actor from Ilford began rehearsals for a new Bollywood inspired play about friendship and courage.
Rifco Theatre Company, Watford Palace Theatre and Oldham Coliseum Theatre came together to produce the new comedy play, Dishoom!
Bilal Khan, 17, will be playing the role of Simon, a young man with a disability who is desperate not to spend his summer indoors.
It’s 1978 and Simon’s cousin Baljit has come for a visit. She introduces him to the Bollywood classic, Sholay.
Inspired by the film’s dynamic duo, Simon’s friends, Jai and Veeru and Baljit find their inner superheroes and set out to change their world forever.
Bilal was born with cerebral palsy. He said: “I can’t wait to start my first professional acting journey with this leading British Asian theatre company.
“The team have been really supportive throughout this opportunity from assisting with my touring needs to professional development workshops.
“I am honoured to be involved with this brilliant piece of writing.”
Speaking at an ambassador event for the play on Tuesday, September 4, Jenny Roberts, executive director at Rifco Theatre company provided some more background to the play.
She said: “Dishoom! is funny, moving, political, inspiring, entertaining and most importantly, it has music from the best film, Sholay.
“This is a show about family and how we are all heroes in our own way.
“The main character, Simon is a young man, who is disabled and desperate to get out into the world, but he’s kept inside most of the time.”
Pravesh Kumar, director of Dishoom! grew up in Slough in the 70’s, in a similar setting to the play.
“He remembers spending summers with relatives, and he had a cousin, Simon, who was disabled. He remembers the moment he and Simon found a video recorder and discovered Sholay,” said Jenny.
“[Pravesh’s] cousin said that was the first time he saw someone like him in a film.”
Jenny added that despite movements towards making theatre more inclusive and diverse, “it’s still unusual to see a play with a British Asian lead, or a disabled character at the heart of the story”.
Previous shows at Queen’s theatre include Laila the musical and Bring on the Bollywood.
Douglas Rintoul, artistic director at the theatre said: “We’re a producing a theatre and we don’t tend to tour shows that much, but when we do it’s for something really fantastic, something we can’t do ourselves.
“It’s about reaching a much wider audience than we have in the past.”
During interviews, members of the cast were asked to describe Dishoom! in three words.
They used adjectives such as, “authentic, exhilarating, truthful, funny, spectacular”, summarising what audiences can expect from this production.
Dishoom! is playing at the Queen’s theatre from Tuesday, September 25 to Saturday, September 29.
To book tickets call 01708 443 333.