Monsoon Wedding, A Musical. . .
Looking for a way to feel upbeat and happy again? Seeking some humor in your life? Searching for fun and romance in a modern setting? Go catch the Monsoon Wedding musical currently running to packed shows at the Berkeley Repertory Theater.
It's been almost 15 years since the indie film Monsoon Wedding about a Delhi family preparing for a Punjabi Hindu arranged marriage broke records at the box office. Since then there have been enormous changes in the way the world views a global and progressive India. For one, almost everyone universally knows the big fat Punjabi wedding as an indisputably exuberant occasion, replete with drinking, dancing and lots of masti. Indian families celebrate for at least three days with events each day. From hours of henna application to the bride's hands and feet to the groom's entrance atop an elephant to the myriad mischievous games between their two families, Indian weddings across the board are nothing if not epic.
In an interview for the Berkeley Repertory magazine, Mira Nair reveals how it's like to re-imagine her film as a new musical. ". . .in 2017, we've updated the musical to reflect not just the complexity and madness of today's India, but also what's going on in America. Monsoon Wedding the musical is equally about today's India and today's America: the bride and the groom both meet across the oceans, and they both have their own vision of India and America. This is that beautiful collision that is at the heart of Monsoon Wedding.
The heart of our story is also about different kinds of love. There's what I call 'old shoe love'—the love between the father and mother of the bride over many years that may have faded in passion and yet completely finds itself again. Then there is the love that is arranged that could ignite—the love between the groom and the bride. There is the love over a flower, the nonmaterial love of Alice and Dubay, the maid and the tent man. And finally there is the sick, twisted love that is also unfortunately in our lives. Monsoon Wedding, we hope, is a gorgeous blend of all the different kinds of love that together creates a sense of joy on stage. That is what we are aspiring for. And it's just kind of nice to be making an antidepressant."
Given these different times, the musical's screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan revisited the concept of arranged marriage as well. “I’ve been part of the diaspora for 20 years,” said Ms. Dhawan, who was raised in Delhi but has lived in New York City since college, “so I’m much more interested in the immigrant experience.” (ref:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/03/theater/monsoon-wedding-lifted-moods-onscreen-how-about-onstage.html)
That’s why she has changed the film’s Hemant, an American groom traveling to India to meet Aditi, his arranged bride, from a first- to a second-generation Indian-American for the stage version.
If “Monsoon Wedding” the film aimed to offer a more realistic version of a Bollywood fantasy, the stage musical returns the material to an emotional and extravagant realm with "music in its bones," as Ms. Nair puts it.
The musical's composer, VIshal Bhardwaj who is an accomplished film director in his own right has 30-plus original songs for the show. The songs lend an aura of authenticity and Indian accents to the musical that makes it a very different experience from the average musical. The potency of the music in Monsoon Wedding, as in every Vishal Bhardwaj's film traverses the narrative in style and songs, such as "We are like this Only" and "A Good Girl" will undoubtedly have a lasting life long after the musical has left the theater.
In a nutshell, it's a 'must-watch.' The musical runs through June 25 after which the production has set its sights on an anticipated move to Broadway. When it rains, it pours!