, , “Monsoon Wedding” Musical: A seamless blend of Bollywood and Broadway! , , ,

4.5 Urbanasian Rating

The “Monsoon Wedding” musical was showcased at the St. Ann’s Warehouse theater in Brooklyn, NY from May 6th through June 25th. A film turned show, produced and directed by Mira Nair, the musical highlighted both the Indian and American experience in a modern light. 

The main premise of the show revolves around a wedding happening between the daughter of an upper-class South Delhi family (Aditi Verma), and an Indian-American son of a family in New Jersey (Hemant Rai). Aditi (played by Salena Qureshi) and Hemant (played by Deven Kolluri) meet for the first time only a few days before their wedding, and have an instant attraction and liking to each other, although Aditi had been having an affair with her ex-boss up until that point. 

Another love story happening simultaneously is one of wedding planner PK Dubey (played by Namit Das) , and the Verma’s house help Alice (played by Anisha Nagarajan). Their comedic story brings the humor in the dramedy musical, and the show ends with (spoiler alert) both couples getting happily married, surrounded by the Verma and Rai families. 

In the background of the wedding, the audience sees the complicated dynamic of the extended Verma family, primarily focusing on the overbearing and lewd Tej Puri, who is married to Lalit Verma’s sister Vijaya Puri. 

Monsoon Wedding
Photo credits to Hypokrit Productions

From start to finish, the play runs almost like a Bollywood movie, with several music numbers moving the plot forward. One does not need to have previously watched the film to understand the nuances in the storyline, especially since Nair and writer Sabrina Dhawan have edited the screenplay to fit a more modern love story. There are several instances throughout the musical when the audience sees references to Hemant’s upbringing in New Jersey, or Varun Verma’s (the youngest son of the Verma family) GenZ lingo. For the audience, this modernization of the classical story was relished as comic relief, because it felt relatable. 

Besides the fabulous acting from Qureshi and Kolluri, two standout performances throughout the show were by Das and Anu Mysore, who was the swing actor to play Ria Verma. Ria’s role is quite ostensive, as she is the first character the audience sees. Her storyline includes portraying an incredibly difficult societal topic: sexual abuse within the family. As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly clear to the viewer that Ria had been sexually abused by Tej Puri when she was a child, which finally comes to light in front of the family the day before the wedding. Mysore raw emotion comes through her acting, making the audience not only feel her emotions, but also her years of pain and suffering. 

Monsoon Wedding
Photo credit to Hypokrit Productions

Das’ comedic timing and simple yet impressively effective dialogue delivery makes his character an audience favorite. PK Dubey’s banter with Alice has the audience in fits of laughter throughout the show, and every viewer feels a heartwarming sense of happiness when they get their happy ending.

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