Mixed Up Post: Trip Report, Hello Dolly Casting, What is Your Favorite Musical?

I’m back! I’m tired! Hours and hours on the road yesterday, after hours and hours on the road Friday, and hours and hours of doing intensive important family stuff in the days in between.

I’m back! On Friday, Mom and I tried to leave Chicago and promptly hit a massive traffic jam. 2 hours to get 50 miles, 6 hours to get the remaining 450 miles. Through, as promised, total nothingness. Luckily Mom made sandwiches, so we had those for lunch and dinner on the way, then arrived at the hotel and went to bed. Saturday, walked around, museum, stuff stuff. Sunday, two churches (turns out the reason there were two services at different times is because they both share the same amazing organist. So she went from church A to church B just like we did), lunch, craft fair (I got flamingo earrings! and fudge), blah blah. And then Monday, the day we were driving the hundreds of miles back home, we woke up and looked out the hotel window at this:

In case you can’t see clearly, that’s a blizzard. Mom decided she would rather drive 6 hours than deal with the stress of watching me drive 6 hours. Which is fair enough, back when I first learned how to drive she could only ride with me while sitting in the backseat with her head down. She does very well now, but 6 hours through nothingness in a blizzard is a lot to ask. Since she was driving, I got to be DJ. Which brings me to my next topic! Have we discussed how perfect Hello Dolly! is for an Indian film remake?

In case you don’t know the plot, it’s pretty simple. There are two couples. A stingy old widower and the bossy woman he hired as his matchmaker. A sad young widow coming back to life who the matchmaker is pretending to set up with the widower while really trying to keep the widower for herself. The widower’s brash young employee who bumps into the sad young widow and they fall in love. The fun of it is watching the bossy matchmaker be charming and confident and tricky and slowly win over the stingy widower until he is convinced that he can’t live without her. And at the same time, she kindly arranges for the young people to fall in love and be happy. The beauty of it is in the message, essentially just to love life. The matchmaker wants to marry the widower so she can spread his money around (“like manure” is the repeated phrase). The young widow has put away her beauty and youth and the matchmaker is helping her come back to life. The poor employees spend all day every day working, they are learning the joy of taking one day just for adventure and breaking the rules. And it all works out! Taking those leaps makes you happier.

Anyway, for our central character who has to evoke a bossy cheerful and ultimately big-hearted woman, and at the same time reveal her own hidden sorrow (she is still struggling with grief for her dead husband, forcing herself to be cheerful and keep living), we need a really amazing middle-aged actress. But WHO? Urvashi in Malayalam would be good. Lakshmi in Tamil or Telugu would be perfection. I just don’t know about Hindi. Is this a good Ratna Pathak-Naseeruddin Shah romance? Or Divya Dutta-Irrfan Khan? Or Juhi-Shahrukh? And then the young couple can be any halfway decent young pair of actors, it’s easy roles.

We didn’t just listen to Hello Dolly!, we also did The Fantasticks, and Cinderella (Julie Andrews version). Which brings me to my final question, as I stumble through the work day: What is your favorite stage musical?

Oh dear, I have to answer for myself don’t I? Anything Goes I guess. It is the first album I remember memorizing the whole thing straight through. All of the songs are so good, and the plot is so light, and the cocaine reference is so quaintly old-fashioned.

Follow up question to make this more blog relevant, what American musical plot would best translate to Indian film?

Obviously, my choice is Hello Dolly! Middle-aged woman, matchmakers, consideration of widowhood and the challenge of remarrying, it’s perfect!

16 thoughts on “Mixed Up Post: Trip Report, Hello Dolly Casting, What is Your Favorite Musical?

  1. For such a short time it were a lot of hours on the road. Fine that you both are back safe and sound.
    Hello Dolly…yep, an iconic musical. For an Indian movie, I think, the plot is a bit ‘meagre’.

    Spontaneously, the musical My Fair Lady comes into my mind, but after a little bit thinking, there are many more I really like (Grease, A Chorus Line, Kiss me Kate, The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Funny Girl, An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain, Showboat…)


    • With Hello Dolly!, what if we include a first half that establishes our widows as widows? Show their first marriages, death of husband, the two of them bonding. Maybe intercut with the hero being irritating and know-it-all and the young clerks getting the job?


  2. Love Hello Dolly as a movie plot. I could definitely see Juhi as Dolly. Much as I always want to cast SRK opposite her, the widower has to be kind of male privilege oblivious and, in the end, cheerfully duped, and I can’t say I’m eager to see him playing dumb that way. Anil would be good, maybe an Anil-Juhi reunion to test out their ELKDTAL mature chemistry.

    I have a soft spot for Guys and Dolls because I did it my senior year of high school, and the songs are so great. Dearth of great female roles, though, just the two leads. Also for The Fantasticks for different reasons – my stepmother used to play the album a lot and we had a running joke with “you…are standing…in my…KUMQUATS!”

    More modern, I recently rediscovered Rent after my teenage obsession, really beautiful soundtrack too. And Kinky Boots didn’t blow me away, but would make for a fun movie adaptation.


    • But if it is Anil, can we believe the yet-to-be-cast young widow would turn up her nose at him? What about Rishi?

      For female roles in G and D, you could just recast some of the gundas, right? Nothing says they have to be male. It would be a great plot, make the heroine a saintly social worker type and the hero, well, exactly what he is in the original. Magical night, love at first sight, life changing decisions, it’s all very Indian. And we get an item number!


      • That’s true. For a movie version, the two main leads are probably enough anyway, not the same cast gender balance concerns as you have with a high school musical :).


      • And I think a younger heroine could believably turn on Anil if he was playing one of his rich and overbearing characters. Just make her allergic to patronizing older males, and make him clueless enough that being benevolently exploited by Juhi is the best possible fate.

        (Anyway, easier to imagine a younger heroine turning on Anil than turning on SRK.)


  3. My favourite stage musical is obviously the one I am in. Honestly that one is so wackadoo you could easily remake it for an Indian audience, though maybe India has another version of the fairytale, in which case that would be better. You’d probably have to change some of the animals anyway.


  4. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is my favorite, though that might have something to do with childhood memories and it being played on Public Television (I’m so old, my kids don’t even know what public TV is). And it is about to get it’s second re-telling in Hindi film. My favorite music from a musical as a whole is Godspell, but I don’t want to see a Hindi version of that. A Godspell-like version of Krishna’s life, that I’d be curious about. I also love West Side Story, but that has been done (Josh is perhaps just one version). In the beginning of Zero when they had the Indian Spaghetti Western style dream sequence, I liked it so much I was sad when he woke up. So if Oklahoma could be re-done in a sort of Indian/Old-Time Western film style, I’d be excited. How would India tackle “I’m just a girl who can’t say no”?

    I think Juhi would be great in Hello Dolly. Kajol would be my second choice, but actual second in this case (I love watching her so usually she is my first). And I think SRK can play anything except a young man, so he would be great.


    • I think if Shahrukh played it like his real husband character in Paheli, that could work. He was money focused and cowardly and no fun, a Dolly could have spiced his life right up.

      Oklahoma would be great! We could even keep a similar set up, only make it farmer versus industry. She’s the daughter of a tough widowed farm woman, he’s the vice president of a new tech company. Judd is creepy. Ado Annie is the heroine’s flirty friend (I would also like to see the Indian version of that, complete with kissing contest to win her).

      Liked by 1 person

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