Those who enjoyed Mira Nair’s movie Monsoon Wedding have something more to look forward to. The filmmaker has started working on a Broadway musical version of her film. The musical will feature an Indian cast and will combine circus acrobatics, aerial acting, theatre, music and dance.
The filmmaker said she was glad to be back to crossover movies after her Hollywood sojourn.
“The stage adaptation of Monsoon Wedding will premiere on Broadway a year from now. I doubt whether it will be a Bollywood song-and-dance opera but we have an extraordinary project in mind. Sabrina Dhawan and I are working on the script, which is halfway through.
“The music will be composed by Vishal Bharadwaj. Tony-award winning American producer Bill T. Jones, who directed Fela, the 2008 Broadway musical on the Nigerian band-leader and political activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, will choreograph the musical. I had been thinking about it for the last four years,” Nair told IANS.
The Broadway version will fuse trapeze acts from the circus and multilevel acting with music and dance, Nair said.
“Two-thirds of the stage will be occupied by a tent. The play will begin the way the movie began with the sidekicks — Lalit and Dubey (from the team of wedding planners) — screaming commands from an upper level. They will perform trapeze acts, while the human action will take place at a lower level. It will also be a symbol of the class divide that I tried to show in my movie,” Nair said.
“It will feature many planes of actors. The Indian shaadi (wedding) scenes may resemble the song-and-dance sequences of Bollywood. The tent will be portable so that it can move around the country,” she said.
The filmmaker said her recent Hollywood biopic, Amelia, starring Hilary Swank, Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor allowed her to experiment with “aerial acting”. “Hilary plays Amelia Earhart, a pioneer woman aviator who flew around the world. And I had to direct several aerial acting sequences,” Nair said.
The filmmaker said the musical would feature Naseeruddin Shah, “though it is yet to be confirmed”. “We will begin casting in June,” she said.
Nair said her “years as an actor in Delhi” inspired her to conceive the “musical version of the movie”. “But adapting a movie like Monsoon Wedding into a Broadway musical is very difficult,” she said.
The filmmaker has also purchased rights for Pakistani novelist Mohsin Hamid’s book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist which she will take up after completing her musical.
“Mohsin and my associate, Ami Bhogani, are working on the script. It is a difficult project because the book is a monologue and we have to invent one character. The protagonist, a young Muslim from Pakistan, has to be given a home, family and a context in the US.
“The story is about a young man’s love affair with the US and how it sours post 9/11. It is refreshing because most movies on terrorism tend to look at it from an American perspective, but The Reluctant Fundamentalist looks at terrorism from a South Asian perspective,” Nair said.