When Parallel Worlds Collide

Posted on Aug 24th, 2010 by Shuchi in Theatre Trivia

MixingColors I have been reading Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) on my ride to work. A very absorbing play with a central character reminiscent of the decadence of Hedda Gabler. I’d love to see an Indian adaptation.

Saving a write-up on the play for later, this is just a note about an odd coincidence. In the play, Blanche Dubois says of her sister’s brutish husband Stanley:

He’s just not the sort that goes
for jasmine perfume!

FM radio was on while I was reading this. Guess what played at that very instant:

… Chameli Genda sab raas hain
(Banda ye bindaas hai [2.22])

[which roughly translates to: He likes jasmine and marigold.]

So, Bachchan’s character from Aks doesn’t share tastes with Stanley.

If the propensities of protagonists have any role in deciding hit/flop status, then whoever adapts A Streetcar Named Desire for an Indian audience can take heart from this conclusion.

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Article by Shuchi

Shuchi lives in Bangalore (mostly), when she isn’t traveling out of town for work. She adores theatre and writes about plays she watches whenever she gets a chance.

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9 Comments to “When Parallel Worlds Collide”

  1. It’s a rather disturbing play.The movie version with Marlon Brando as Stanley is amazing..have you seen it?By the way, I have seen a performance of this play too..amazingly dark..but probably appropriate!

    August 24th, 2010 6:03 pm

  2. I finished reading this a few minutes back. ‘Disturbing’ is exactly the word for it.

    I haven’t seen the movie or any live performance of it. I would love to, now. Vivian Leigh play the Blanche in the film, right?

    I read an interesting thought on this blog, that the actress who plays Blanche has to have some element of the character in her natural personality, it is ‘a role which no amount of theatrical training and personal desire can prepare one for’. I guess I agree.

    Where did you watch the play?

    PS: The resemblance between Hedda Gabler and Blanche Dubois became fainter as the pages turned.

    August 24th, 2010 6:19 pm

  3. I saw the rehearsals of the Hyderabad performance of Street car, and i must tell you, unless you arnt in it for getting it right, you’ll get it really wrong!

    The play was a confusion of the producer with his huge paunch and strong south indian looks trying very hard to mimic Marlon Brando. And a mitch that looked more suited for the role of Stanley. The audience walked away 15 minutes into the play. That’s not a surprise because the play started 45 minutes later than the time given on the tickets.

    And what else?
    The sound system was very bad.
    That’s as good as it gets here!

    August 24th, 2010 7:50 pm

  4. Yes..I like her better in this one than in her other famous movies (eg gone with the wind).The movie is very intense,but the play is even darker.As Marlon Brando was so attractive I think people who see the movie tend to gloss over some of the most negative aspects of the character. I watched the play in Princeton.
    Btw,checked out the other blog,the blogger doesn’t seem to like anything at all 🙂

    August 24th, 2010 7:51 pm

  5. @Dfir: The Hyderabad performance happened? After the initial buzz I heard no more of it, so assumed the project had been shelved. Sad to know it didn’t go well.

    I was thinking, rather than a straight performance, an adaptation would work more naturally in India. The story would apply as well to the present-day South Indian milieu as to 1947 New Orleans. The actors could be their own selves then, paunches, accents and all.

    I’m reminded of a play I saw two years back – And Sunshine Follows The Rain directed by Rajiv Krishnan. This was inspired by Tenessee William’s The Glass Menagerie but was set in the Anglo-Indian community of India. It worked pretty well.

    @Brishti: In the book, for better or worse, there is no Marlon Brando to offset the character’s awfulness.

    August 25th, 2010 12:50 am

  6. I agree:).Now I have another question for you:can you think offhand of some plays about weird relationships?I realize that’s a sweeping question..but still..

    August 25th, 2010 10:01 pm

  7. Depends on how we define ‘weird’. So what’s your point?

    August 26th, 2010 11:20 am

  8. Weirdness would be defined by “gray area”..ie it’s difficult to “define” the relationship..to put it into a box. It’s just an interesting thing to think about..because there are no clearly defined expectations. If you can think of some such plays,I’ll look out for them, it’s something I am interested in 🙂

    August 27th, 2010 11:44 am

  9. Many such. One of them explores the unusual relationships of the same trio as that in A Streetcar Named Desire – a woman, her husband and her sister. The play is Bikhre Bimb.

    September 13th, 2010 2:02 pm

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