Monsoon Wedding, Mira Nair’s Radical Attempt at Broadway

This May, India’s most accomplished film director abroad is all set to head to Broadway with her adaptation of Monsoon Wedding, the 2001 film that took the diaspora and its desi cousins by storm.

While the film in 2001 featured an enchanting ensemble of Naseeruddin Shah, Shefali Shah, Randeep Hooda, Vasundhara Das, Lilette Dubey, and Vijay Raaz, the stage version has a completely new cast.

Mira Nair speaks excitedly about her maiden tryst with the stage.

We’re opening in May. I’ve been working on the stage adaptation of Monsoon Wedding for eight years. Now we’re all set to go on stage. We’ve got Vishal Bhardwaj’s amazing music score which was not there in the film. And, of course, Sabrina Dhawan’s skilled writing. So yes, it seems like our adaptation from film to stage is on the right path.

Talking about screenings, Mira gives us an insight about how it works in Broadway.

We’re opening in Berkley, California first. You see, the way it happens in the US, is that before a musical goes on stage, on Broadway, it has to be staged at another venue, albeit a high-end venue, to make sure that all the lights, sound, etc. run smoothly, as it is all live. We’re opening at a very high-end regional theatre in Berkley, California, playing for an 8-week limited engagement. By then, we’ll be fit and shining to take on Broadway without the  scrutinising gaze of the unsparing New York critics. Then we move to Broadway.

Mira talks about bringing an Indian idea to a global stage.

It’s quite a radical move, the first South Asian fully Dilli musical on Broadway! Then, if it works, it plays and plays and plays, there’s no limit to how far it can go. But the key to the whole exercise for me is to give it our best shot in the US and then bring it here, to India.

The new Monsoon Wedding cast on stage has Mira excited.

We have an extraordinary cast now, mostly from India and North America. In March, we start final rehearsals and then we go on stage in May. Initially, we’ll be performing in the US for eight weeks until July. I am anxious about the opening going smoothly. Once we open smoothly we are consolidated. Then we have nothing to worry about. We’ve a team to take care of the nitty-gritty. Then when the world tours start, I have to worry again.

Mira, who has been critically acclaimed for her film, Queen Of Katwe, has set aside much of 2017 to the stage adaptation of Monsoon Wedding.

It is eight  years of my life. It has taken us a long time to get here. We didn’t just take Broadway veterans and put them on stage; we dealt with the stage adaptation of Monsoon Wedding organically. We got authentic talent like Vishal Bhardwaj’s. We have 21 songs in the stage adaptation. Now the entire story of Monsoon Wedding has been driven by music. We have to creative talent of the highest order. This is no longer just a drama. It’s really exciting, and we’re ready to go now. We had to balance it all out, streamline the gifted artistes, but we’re ready.

This interview first appeared here

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