Audiences across the continents will immediately recognize actress Karishma Bhandari from her stunning performances in a slew of popular films and television series, such as the 2016 Bollywood hit Club Dancer, Marcus Flemmings’ award-winning films Six Rounds and The Conversations, Anjan Dutt’s drama The Bongs Again, which was released in January, as well as Jon Jones’ (Legends, Da Vinci’s Demons) drama Lawless and many more.
While most fans will associate Bhandari with her work in film and television, the actress first made her mark through her lead roles in a plethora of prominent stage productions, such as the musicals “Bollywood Jane” and “17 Days Aur Bollywood Spice” at the Kenneth More Theatre, “Swaraj” at the UK’s Watford Colosseum and “The Seagull” at The Broadway in Barking, UK, as well as Shreya Ghoshal’s 2013 UK and Europe tour.
Debuting in London in 2011, “Bollywood Jane,” one of Bhandari’s earliest theatre performances, followed Jane, a young woman who, in need of a job, begins working at the cinema where she falls in love with the costumes and energy of Bollywood films. Bhandari gave a knockout performance as Amira, the woman who owns the theatre. As the story progresses Jane falls in love with Amira’s boyfriend, a development that causes tension between the three lead characters and makes for a multi-layered tale on stage.
Bhandari recalls, “It was my first big theatre show with a live audience who were paying to watch me so it was a marvellous experience… when the lights and back drops all came together and people were laughing and clapping, it was an amazing feeling.”
Shortly after, Bhandari went on to play the starring role of Jia in “17 Days Aur Bollywood Spice,” which revolved around a group of students who, after being inspired by a visit from a Bollywood star, embark on an exciting exploration of the film industry. Directed by Gurnam Singh and choreographed by UK Bollywood Ambassador Honey Kalaria (“Bombay Dreams,” “Merchants of Bollywood,” “Bride and Prejudice”), the production was a major hit with UK audiences.
The perfect display of Bhandari’s triple-threat talent, as the lead actress in the project, Bhandari’s role as Jia drew upon her skills as a dancer, singer and actress; and from the overall success of the project, it’s easy to see that she nailed her mark on all accounts.
Kalaria says, “During the musical press launch [Karishma] was one of the top three shortlisted upcoming artists in the UK to be invited to speak. She is a talented and versatile actress, and a committed artist who works with full dedication and passion... and she enjoys experimenting with different roles.”
The stark contrast between each one of Bhandari’s stage productions to date have proven her ability to take on diverse leading roles. Aside from her magnetic stage presence, and ability to seamlessly bring to life a broad range of characters, one of the aspects of Bhandari’s far-reaching talent that has been key in her success is her extensive dance training, especially when it comes to Bollywood dance styles.
In 2013 she was chosen to go on tour as a dancer with singer and four-time National Film Award winner Shreya Ghoshal. Referred to widely by the media as the ‘Melody Queen,’ Ghoshal’s music has been featured in an impressive list of Bollywood films to date and she is truly a pop icon in both India and abroad.
Bhandari explains, “I was chosen from a large selection of dancers and actors to perform for international singer Shreya Ghoshal. The show consisted of strong dance movements and acting, and only 6 people were chosen from the UK. It was huge to be flown out to these destinations and perform with such a talented artist.”
Performing to sold out stages in London, Wales, Amsterdam and Switzerland, Bhandari’s dancing talent was definitely a major highlight in the multi-award winning singer’s tour, but that’s not all. Considering the theatrical nature and elaborate stories woven within Bollywood dance performances, Bhandari’s acting skills were integral to the dazzling show Ghoshal put on for fans each night in 2013.
“Working with Karishma was absolutely amazing. She is full of energy, and her attitude and willpower make her great at what she does,” explained tour production manager Pritee Varsani when asked about working with Bhandari.
Karishma Bhandari’s continued success on stages across innumerable countries says a lot about her adept skill and ability to command the attention of live audiences. Considering that the stage requires actors to give their best on the first take and leaves no space for a director to call ‘cut,’ Bhandari’s strong theatrical background has made her the kind of actress who is always on point.
With a solid foundation, unparalleled talent and mention mesmerizing beauty, it comes as no surprise that she became such a sought after talent for film and television productions. Bhandari is currently working on the upcoming UK comedy series The Corner Shop, and the upcoming drama Emergency: LA from director Len Davies (Traditional World, Chef Extraordinaire).