Set on the eve of a big fat Indian wedding, Mira Nair’s comedy-drama film Monsoon Wedding (2001) remains one of her most celebrated works even after more than two decades of its release. It was one of the most successful films of the year which went on to bag several prominent awards, including the Golden Lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival.
However, Nair wanted more. She wanted to bring the story of an intimate family to the theater. Her wish finally came to fruition in 2017 when a staged musical of Monsoon Wedding was first produced in 2017 in Berkeley, California, and it has been running since early May at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York.
Nair has revealed that it was the classic Jewish musical Fiddler on the Roof that inspired her to adapt Monsoon Wedding as a musical.
“Fiddler on the Roof is a thing we also grew up with,” she told a publication. “It’s about family and tradition, and the push and pull of so many human stories. It’s entirely relatable, and so specific and local, and yet it’s become utterly universal.”
The filmmaker added, “I came from the stage. Before I was a film director, I was an actor. The stage was not a foreign place. It was more of a home to me. I never made a musical before, but I wanted to bring Monsoon Wedding to the stage. I wanted to tell it right and I wanted to tell it our way. I use the analogy of Fiddler in the sense that, so much of our story is rooted in tradition, rooted in culture, and yet the human families’ dilemmas and struggles, in different contexts, are essentially the same — deeply human. No matter where they come from, people see themselves in those stories.”
She further said that she used Fiddler on the Roof as an analogy, not an imitation. “I use Fiddler by way of analogy, not imitation. The Jewish community has Fiddler; what about the Punjabi community? They are the party animals of India!” she added.
Monsoon Wedding: The Musical ends its run in the city of New York on Sunday.