Three homegrown British-Asian talents Nileeka Bose, Pritee Varsani and Jaz Dhami unite to mark Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at England’s Windsor Castle.
Bose, the Creative Director of popular dance company ‘The Bollywood Co.’ curated the India segment as the choreographer. The company has a client list that spans from celebrities and influencers to TV Channels and music labels. They have even featured in shows like Dancing On Ice. Just last year, they worked with Kumail Nanjiani in Hollywood’s Marvel film, Eternals.
She says: “Going from Marvel into a pandemic was probably the most shocking thing because we thought this is a career highlight and keep getting work. But it just wasn’t the case. So after two years of doing free events, drive-ins and whatever we can to stay afloat, this was just the best reward.”
Bose adds: “There’s often this misconception that when you get a job like this, it’s easy and you go an do it. It’s really not. It is a full-on creative process of going from the original ‘Jai Ho’ style dance (which everyone expects of Bollywood) to being able to present two cultural dances not normally seen on TV, let alone in front of the queen. To represent two states of India is my biggest achievement to date. We did it so our audience feels represented.”
Meanwhile, Dhami and Varsani were appointed to represent different Indian cultures through music and dance.
Jaz is a popular British-Indian playback singer, music composer/producer and performer. For years, he has collaborated with some established artists in the UK-based Bhangra scene as well as many Bollywood tracks like ‘Humne Pee Rakhi Hai’ from Sanam Re to his credit. His chartbuster ‘High Heels’ has also been featured in Hindi cinema. On the night, he performed a fusion of Western classical with an authentic Panjabi flare. The tabla was by Parv Bharat and dholak by Rakesh Tura.
Dhami describes: “This has to have been the most prestigious event I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of, such a phenomenal week and great to see the Queen enjoying it too. Representation matters. So I hope this inspires young brown kids to push for their dreams, anything can be achieved. Look at me, Jaz from Birmingham singing in Punjabi for thousands of non-Asians and of course, HRH The Queen for her Platinum Jubilee!”
British born Gujarati folk singer Pritee Varsani is rooted in her native Naranpar village in Kutch, Gujarat. She and Parle Patel, a producer of Gujarati folk music are pioneers in raising awareness of the culture amongst the youth in Britain. Both have even worked closely with the music label Sur Sagar. Varsani represented her Gujarati folk culture and traditional dance form ‘Garba’ by performing ‘Dholida Dhol Re Vagad Mare Hich Levi Se’.
“From what I understand this would be the first time a traditional Gujarati song has been presented to the Queen in her 70 year reign. Whilst ‘Dholida Dhol Re Vagad’ is a traditional lok-geet garbo. The particular version that the orchestra recreated has been composed by Parle Patel. In this rendition, there were many new features added to give the song an appeal amongst young British Gujaratis and Garba lovers.”
All three artists performed in Her Majesty’s Presence. Major stars Dame Helen Mirren, Tom Cruise and Katherine Jenkins also performed, with equestrian, military and musical talent from all over the world. The event was broadcast on ITV.
Further credits for the performances include:
Lead Choreographer – Khush
Movement Director – Ben Rawlings
Bhangra Choreographers – Jeevan Sandhu, Kanika Kaur Kanwar
Garba Consultant & Assistant Choreographer – Vibhuti Patel
Costume Design – Saran Kohli
Styling – Raghav
Make-Up Director – Chevy Tease
Project Coordinator – Anastasia Krokhina