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09-17-2009, 09:54 PM #1
Mira’s big, fat Punjabi wedding in US
Soon, handpicked auditoriums across the US will be turned into venues for a lavish Punjabi wedding. You’ve heard about Mira Nair doing a grand Broadway musical version of her path-breaking film, Monsoon Wedding. What comes as a complete surprise is how interactive Mira wants the staged wedding to be for American and international audiences.
The renowned director is characteristically enthused. “We plan to have the plays staged under a wedding tent. And as the wedding on stage will progress, the auditorium will be decorated by our wedding planner Dubey (played by Vijay Raaz in the film) accordingly with flowers, lights, the shehnai and other musical accompaniments. So the audiences watching the play will be an integral part of every step of the wedding arrangements.”
Mira plans to implement this ambitious plan everywhere that Monsoon Wedding will be staged. “It sounds extravagantly ambitious, I know. But if you look at it, theatre was traditionally a nomadic art form. Theatre groups moved from city to city with folded tents. We’re actually going to revive the old and revered form of theatre viewing, though in a style that would take the gora log’s breath away. Wait till they see an Indian wedding first-hand.”
In fact, Mira is set to attend a true-blue Punjabi wedding in Delhi in November. She says, “My niece, Sahira Nair, who played Irrfan and Tabu’s daughter in The Namesake, is getting married on November 29.”
And of course, the Delhi wedding would be research time for the staged version of Monsoon Wedding. Mira can’t afford to go wrong with it. She says, “As you know, Vishal Bhardwaj will be composing the music for the stage version. Steven Sater, the Tony-award winning lyricist from Spring Awakening will write the lyrics to Vishal’s tunes.”
The dances in the stage version of Monsoon Wedding will be choreographed by the legendary African-American choreographer, Bill T Jones. Considering the film had fully desi choreography, the play seems to be cruising towards a more international form of expression. “Oh yes,” says Mira. “The staged adaptation that Sabrina Dhawan and I are writing will be radically different in profile, flavour and cast. For example, the woman who was abused as a child (played by Shefali Shah in the film) could evolve into a classical Indian dancer on stage. Nritya expresses so much angst. It would be perfect.”
So far only Naseeruddin Shah playing the bride’s harried father seems to have been cast. “Because of union rules in the US, I can only take a couple of Indian actors. I definitely see Naseer coming into the play from the film. But can he sing? I know Lilette Dubey has a fine voice throw and she has done plenty of theatre. So she’d be an apt choice for the stage. But what about Vijay Raaz? He was priceless as the wedding planner, PK Dubey in the film. Can he sing? Can he make the transition?” she reflects.
09-18-2009, 05:34 PM #2