Bhangra Nation: A Musical Celebration of Identity and Unity Takes Birmingham by Storm

When a huge row changes the team forever, students Mary and Preeti start on journeys of discovery into what they stand for and who they want to be…reports Asian Lite News

Bhangra Nation is an uplifting, moving and funny new musical about friendship, family, rivalry and identity, brought to life with boundless energy and joy, incredible dance moves and a truly bhangin’ soundtrack. Originally called Bhangin’ It, this musical was premiered in San Diego in 2022.

As the Uni Bhangra dance team wait nervously backstage to find out if they’ve made it to Nationals, the real showdown has already begun as team mates Preeti and Mary clash over what Bhangra really means to them. Whilst Preeti, who is 100% South Asian, believes that the team needs to stick to tradition, Mary, who is bi-racial, is passionate about shaking things up to belong to today.

When a huge row changes the team forever, students Mary and Preeti start on journeys of discovery into what they stand for and who they want to be.

By focusing on the two students and their different ideals of dance, Bhangra Nation explores how we see ourselves and how we view others.

At the core of this approximately 150-minute musical is a story about how you fit in, according to its Director, Stafford Arima. “I think, no matter if you are British, South Asian, Canadian or whatever, we all struggle on so many levels on how to fit into the world these days,” he added. Asked what excites him about this musical, “that we’re pulling from the community of Birmingham but also introducing to the community of Birmingham new faces and new voices. We’re making it a big kind of soup of different ingredients from different places.”

A house-full audience reflecting multicultural Birmingham, attendees included director Stafford Arima, media representatives including Indy Deol, Satnam Rana, Amit Roy and Boy Chana, relatives of the cast and TV personality Dr Ranj. At the end, the audience took to their feet to applaud the fabulous cast. After the show, VIP guests were treated to drinks and food, the latter provided by Dishoom. Hats off to The REP’s Communications Team, including Aaliyah Collins, Samantha Lyster as well as Nada Zakula.

Local lad’s dream role

For 22-year-old Ajay Sahota, pictured, this is his first time on a professional stage. Ajay, from Great Barr in Birmingham, plays student Gobind. He had never dreamed he would be on stage at The REP, and is enjoying the experience. “I’ve only done amateur musicals at university and at school but I’ve always loved musical theatre and this show is a combination of dancing, singing and the cultural part of being a South Asian in the UK. It’s the perfect opportunity,”

Parambeer Samrai is a bhangra consultant from Walsall. “This show is fostering an understanding of cultural appreciation whether you’re South Asian, black or white,” says Parambeer. “We’re creating a memorable performance for all ages and we want this show to be accessible to anybody and everybody. Bhangra is a super cool dance and music tradition that lots of people in Birmingham enjoy but it’s not just about dancing. It’s about bringing people together and having fun.”

Bhangra Nation runs at Birmingham REP until 16 March. Receive one free teen (aged 13-19) ticket when you book a full priced ticket for a Mon to Thu performance.

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