Cultural Remix of Wuthering Heights
Earlier this week, the curtains went up on Wuthering Heights as had never been seen before. The book’s central characters, Cathy and Heathcliffe, became Shakuntala and Krishnan. Modern India features with Bollywood-style song and dance sequences. The production is seen to symbolize the art of cultural fusion in the age of globalization.
But is it? Has cross-culturalism become a bit of a cliche? No, say British Indians, who insist cross-cultural productions are the public expressions of them. Actor and playwright Sudha Bhuchar, is founding partner of Tamasha, production company which set Wuthering Heights in Rajasthan. She says, “It’s only natural for us to explore an Indian connection. This culture is not alien to us; it’s part of us. I have grown up with Bollywood films.” Deepak Verma, who conceived the idea of producing the play, has been quoted to say: “The Victorian values in the novel are also found in Indian society and the desert (in Rajasthan) is a harsh place, just like the moors of Yorkshire.”
ndia has something of a history of cross-cultural adaptation, both in theatre and film. Interestingly, Indian directors, playwrights and film-makers have sought inspiration from across the world. In 1966, Wuthering Heights became a successful Hindi film, Dil Diya Dard Liya, starring Dilip Kumar and Waheeda Rehman. In 1973, noted theatre and film director Vijaya Mehta staged Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Circle in Marathi as Ajab Nyay Vartulacha. The well-known and popular play Tumhari Amrita, directed by Feroz Khan and performed by Shabana Azmi and Farooque Shaikh, was the Urdu adaptation of American playwright A R Guerney’s Love Letters. A Manipuri adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken by Ratan Thiyam had traditional Manipuri Ras Leela dance thrown in. And film director Vishal Bharadwaj famously transposed Shakespeare’s 16th-century Britain to the badlands of modern-day Uttar Pradesh in Omkara.
Vijaya Mehta, who is currently director of Mumbai’s National Centre for Performing Arts, believes cultural fusion is “an enriching experience.”
Read the entire article here.
Image Source: Scott MacLeod Liddle