DIRECTING PYGMALION

My-Fair-Lady---_2877510bWell today we had our ‘big event’. This is what our English teacher calls the day when we perform the plays that we have in our syllabus as a part of the course and on which we will actually be marked in the exam. You know I find it extremely surprising that given how much I hate him, he probably is the one person that I would have talked about the most. Not that I want to talk about him in this post as this post is solely dedicated to me creating our own version of Pygmalion, which we better know as My Fair Lady, starring Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn and Jeremy Brett (;)).

But first who don’t know about either-Pygmalion 101. Pygmalion is a Greek tale of this, I want to say, king who did not find earthly women good enough for him so he created a statue of the woman, he felt would be a perfect one and when he was done he realised that he had fallen in love with this woman. He prayed to the gods and they granted his wish by bringing Galactea, i.e. the statue to life. Now in Pygmalion, the play, written by George Bernard Shaw, we see Professor Higgins, an almost misogynist decides to take on a bet to make a Duchess out of a flower girl, or at least make people believe that she is a Duchess, as he was a linguistics professor who would turn her cockney accent into that of the genteel class. Thus we see them embarking on a tiresome journey which eventually brings Prof. Higgins success as Eliza, the heroine manages to befool everyone that she is a Duchess.

In the play, she ends up with a guy called Freddy because she does not like the way Higgins treated her as if she were a doll which he could throw away when he would get tired it. She was just another challenge to him and not a human being. We also see this character of Eliza’s father who realises that her daughter is being used by some like Higgins for an experiment and hence decides to extract money out of the situation, thus highlighting the clash of the moralities. But in the movie she ends up with Prof. Higgins, I guess to sort of give it a happy ending. Besides, there exists this extra character called Carpathy in the movie who is another distinguished linguist, a student of Higgins himself and the real test for Eliza thus becomes to fool him.

Now apparently, it was written to be performed as a musical. Hence even when we see the movie, we see quite a lot of songs, a lot actually. Now we did not have such terrific singers hence we decided to ‘bollywoodenize’ the situation. So, firstly, because everyone wanted a ball scene complete with a queen and everything, so I decided to keep Mr. Carpathy from the movie but so that the essence of he play remains, we sent Eliza with Freddy. Now these ideas literally just came up randomly in the periods that our English teacher used to give us for ‘Play Practice’, we used to go to the ‘allotted rooms’, one for each play and then ‘practice’. We really did not have a script till the last day. Our last scene was created minutes before our actual performance. Oh My God, I was laughing so hard upstairs in the sound box from where I was controlling the lights on stage thinking of what we had been doing throughout. I think I finished fat book while passing time in this free time he had given to us for efficiently using them to put up a show on the day of the ‘big event’.

Then we added a bit of humour by putting in Indian songs wherever, they seemed fit. So when Freddy and Eliza first collide, we added the epic tune of DDLJ (it is a very famous Shahrukh Khan movie that has been running for years and years because the fans love it so much you can hear it here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDeNqC2R5-E ). Now towards the end Eliza runs away from Higgins’ house in the night, so here we played Gumshuda, another Shahrukh Khan song which basically means someone who has gone missing (hear it here-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N29spcYPBc ) I actually also hate the guy who played Higgins, he is such a kiss ass, but because I was directing, I got to boss him as much as I wanted. Most importantly, he took upon himself to cut the script short on the condition that no changes will be made to it. I agreed because it reduced my work. So when the script actually came, I never really paid attention, so when I tried doing what I do best,directing, he kept coming in between saying don’t do it like this, my way is better blah blah blah….Argh. Then I simply gave up and said you want to direct, go ahead because, I cannot tolerate insubordination. I know what you are thinking, I should be in the military, some day my friend, some day. But eventually people got fed up him because of his extremely stupid ideas. He wanted to switch the genders of the protagonists and create a whole new story. Great idea, but no way in hell would anyone want to put in that much effort for the English Teacher’s play, believe me, our teacher has a knack for pissing anyone off. Moreover because my friend who was playing the cockney Eliza (we had two Eliza’s one cockney and the other who spoke proper English) is a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, so she was extremely excited about the play, so much so that she wanted to direct and let me be Eliza and not half but with the entire set of dialogues. But I convinced her to change her mind, more so because I was not willing to put in the effort of learning the dialogues again (oh yes we have to go through this torture twice in the first year of the college, last time I was in Antigone by Sophocles, playing Antigone herself) and the gender swapping ideas had made her mind go numb with rage. This is when I decided to intervene and take my charge back again, actually because now the script had been once explained to the cast so I knew what I had to direct. Thus finally we put up Pygmalion.

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