How to Make a Killing in Bollywood Gilded Balloon

NLP Theatre Group had great success last year with their Fringe production of Des Dillon’s “Singin’ I’m No a Billy He’s a Tim” which dealt with sectarianism in Scottish football. This year, they have brought us “How To Make a Killing in Bollywood”, which is written and directed by Umar Ahmed and Manjot Sumal who also play the main characters. It tells the story of best friends, Raza and Gurjit, Scottish Asians who have been unable to find success as actors and are now reduced to serving up chips and cheese in their dead end jobs in a takeaway restaurant. Convinced that they will never overcome the racial prejudice that stereotypes them as “Asian actors” rather than “actors who are Asian”, Raza persuades Gurjit to quit their jobs and go to India to follow their acting dreams in Bollywood.

It starts off very lightheartedly with some very funny and earthy banter and some exuberant Bollywood dancing from the four young actors. The tone begins to change when they arrive in India as the assault on their senses is immediate – the heat, the smells, the dirt. The Bollywood dream is not what they thought it would be and their friendship begins to sour. They discover the seedier and darker side of India and its film industry. Gradually they begin to realise that they don’t fully belong in either the West or the East and events begin to spiral out of control until it reaches a shocking climax. The twist at the end, while not totally unexpected, is genuinely shocking and well done.

Throughout the play the audience has experienced a range of emotions and fortunately we are treated to a finale of Bollywood dance to lift our moods up again.

This was a very entertaining hour and the production has got a lot of positives – it has comedy as well as pathos, it covers some interesting commentary on racial and cultural identity and it also has some good songs and dancing. Definitely worth a look.

Irene Brownlee