Brontë gets the Bollywood treatment

Rajasthan replaces Yorkshire as the setting for new version of 'Wuthering Heights'

It has all the ingredients for the perfect Bollywood drama: sweeping landscapes, a tortured hero, a long-suffering heroine and an unrequited love story with tragic consequences – Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights is about to get a Bollywood makeover.

The acclaimed writer Deepak Verma has put the finishing touches to a musical version of the novel, transposing the quintessentially Yorkshire love tale to the deserts of Rajasthan and swapping Victorian snobbery for India's strict caste system.

The play will be set to Bollywood-style music but will broadly follow the plot of the 1847 novel, which recounts how the tormented foundling Heathcliff fell in love with Catherine, the daughter of the kindly benefactor who took him off the streets of Liverpool.

The brooding figure of Heathcliff is replaced by Krishan, a low-caste street urchin who is adopted by a kindly merchant and falls in love with his headstrong daughter Shakuntala.

Verma, one of the first British-Asian actors to become a household name in the UK when he played Sanjay in EastEnders, said he always thought that the novel lended itself to a Bollywood makeover.

"Marrying Wuthering Heights to Bollywood just seemed like the obvious thing to do," he said. "Everything about it suits Bollywood – a tragic love story set in a beautiful and harsh environment. It's perfect." Casting for the 12 roles has already begun and the production will tour the UK next spring.

The Tamasha Theatre Company, a charity set up in 1989 to bring British-Asian work to the stage, is producing the play. Tamasha has helped launch the careers of some of the most successful British-Asian performers.

Parminder Nagra, best known for playing Neela in the American TV drama ER, received her break through Tamasha after she was spotted on stage by the director Gurinder Chadha and cast alongside Keira Knightley in the 2002 hit Bend It Like Beckham.

Tamasha, which means "commotion" in Hindi, also staged and funded the original stage version of Ayub Khan-Din's East is East, a heartwarming tale of a mixed-race family growing up in 1970s Salford. Buoyed by its success on stage, the film adaptation of Khan-Din's play went on to gross £10m in the cinemas despite costing just £1.9m to make.

The company's most recent production, Sweet Cider, addressed a darker aspect of Asian life in Britain, telling the story of two girls who fled their families, met in a women's refuge and struggled to cope with the terrifying lack of family ties their newfound freedom had earned them.

Kristine Landon-Smith, who set up Tamasha with the playwright Sudha Bhuchar, said of Wuthering Heights: "This production will go up to the death of Catherine's character. It's the perfect Bollywood tragedy with epic landscapes and epic characters. The hierarchical structure of Victorian society translates very well into the same era in Rajasthan."

Andrew McCarthy, who runs the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, near Bradford, said Wuthering Heights could easily be adapted to different locations and cultures. "I think it's a wonderful idea," he said.

He hoped a Bollywood version of the novel would help open up new audiences to Brontë's classic work.

Eastern epics: Bollywood remakes

*Sholay (1975)

Sholay drew heavily on the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven, itself a remake of the Japanese classic Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai). Billed as "The Greatest Story Ever Told" it managed to live up to its own hype by becoming India's highest-grossing film, earning the equivalent of $60m. It was initially a commercial flop, but word of mouth drove up audiences.

*Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Directed by Gurinder Chadha, the writer/director of Bend It Like Beckham, and starring Aishwarya Rai, centre, this adaptation of the Jane Austen classic was a success, despite mixed reviews from critics who said it was a poor interpretation.

*Black (2005)

Selected by Time magazine (Europe) as fifth of the "10 Best Movies of 2005", this movie was partly based on Arthur Penn's 1962 biographical film of Helen Keller, The Miracle Worker. Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee, the film won 11 Filmfare Awards.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own