Photo of the company of ‘Monsoon Wedding’ by Amir Hamja
St. Ann’s Warehouse announced the cast of Monsoon Wedding, the Musical, featuring 22 actors from India and the global Indian diaspora who have met from across continents to realize Mira Nair’s live theatrical adaptation of her landmark film (May 6–June 4).
Filmmaker Mira Nair and screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan’s 2001 film, which they intended to be, in Nair’s words, an “intimate family flick” set in their home city of Delhi, was a runaway success. It won the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and became one of the highest-grossing foreign films of all time. Over the course of the last 15 years, Nair has assembled a dream team to adapt the movie into a musical, including legendary composer Vishal Bhardwaj, book writers Arpita Mukherjee and Sabrina Dhawan, lyricists Masi Asare and Susan Birkenhead, scenic designer Jason Ardizzone-West, lighting designer Bradley King, projection designer David Bengali, and costume designer Arjun Bhasin, who also designed the film.
The resulting work is a moving story of families—how they love, rejoice, and endure together—and a joyful and triumphant love song to the Punjabi spirit. Staged immersively, Monsoon Wedding, the Musical begins with a wedding brass band that leads guests from the Max Family Garden at St. Ann’s Warehouse—one of New York City’s most popular and photogenic locations for pre-wedding couples—into a modernist, Corbusier-style Delhi house and courtyard, alive with Punjabi aunties rehearsing wedding songs for the celebration to come. As the festivities unfurl, expectation, reality, and class collide, creating what Nair describes as “a crackling tale of all kinds of love.”
Monsoon Wedding, the Musical features Namit Das, Sharvari Deshpande, and Gagan Dev Riar, three acclaimed actors in the worlds of Indian film, TV, and theater, all players in Nair’s 2020 BBC/Netflix limited series A Suitable Boy. Namit Das, born into a musical family (his father is renowned ghazal singer Chandan Dass), became a household name in the Hindi-language Everybody Loves Raymond adaptation Sumit Sambhal Lega. His Bollywood film career includes Wake up Sid, Ghanchakkar, Aankhon Dekhi, Sui Dhaaga, and Patakha. In 2012, he was named by Time Out one of “25 actors under the age of 35 who are lighting up the Mumbai stage,” celebrated for his “lively, charged performances.” As the wedding planner PK Dubey (the role he originated in the 2017 Berkeley Repertory Theatre production and reprised in the November 2022 staging at the FIFA World Cup Doha), Das brings to life one of Monsoon Wedding’s sweetest romances.
Mumbai-based Sharvari Deshpande, who earned her MFA in Acting from Columbia University, comes from a family of musicians. She has starred in the films Chhapaak, War Room, and Doctor G. Described by The San Francisco Chronicle as having the “pure but weathered tone of a young Joni Mitchell,” she lends delight and pathos to Monsoon Wedding, the Musical when her character, Ria, reveals a dark family secret.
Eminent Mumbai-based actor Gagan Dev Riar reprises his role as Aditi’s father, Lalit Verma, having played it in Monsoon Wedding, the Musical’s workshop in Delhi.
In the role of Aditi Verma, the bride, is American actress Salena Qureshi, best known as the star of films including Draupadi Unleashed and Americanish, and from TV shows including The Society (Netflix) and Madam Secretary (CBS). Monsoon Wedding, the Musical marks her Off-Broadway debut. Deven Kolluri, another New York-based actor making his Monsoon Wedding, the Musical debut, plays Hemant Rai, the groom, who travels to Delhi from the United States to meet—and marry—Aditi. Indian National Film Awards-winning actress Palomi Ghosh portrays Aditi’s mother, Pimmi Verma, returning for the New York premiere of Monsoon Wedding, the Musical from the Berkeley production. Anisha Nagarajan, who originated the role of Alice at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, has appeared on Broadway in Bombay Dreams and Company, and in numerous American films and TV shows. Anisha plays the Vermas’ housekeeper Alice, who falls for the lovestruck wedding planner, Dubey, played by Das.
The full cast is: Manik Anand (Vikram/Ensemble, understudy for Tej, Mohan Rai), Sargam Ipshita Bali (Shashi/Ensemble), Meetu Chilana (Saroj Rai/Ensemble), Namit Das (Dubey), Sharvari Deshpande (Ria/Ensemble), Savidu Geevaratne (Tamezuddin, understudy for Hemant, Varun), Palomi Ghosh (Pimmi/ Ensemble, understudy for Aditi, Ria), Bhaskar Jha (Bholuram/Ensemble), Deven Kolluri (Hemant), Miriam A. Laube (Vijaya/Ensemble), Sharayu Mahale (Ensemble, understudy for Aliya), Anu Mysore (understudy for Aditi, Alice, Shashi/Naani, Vijaya, Ria, Ensemble), Anisha Nagarajan (Alice), Jamen Nanthakumar (Lottery, understudy for Hemant, Mohan Rai), Shreya Navile (understudy for Alice, Pimmi, Vijaya, Aliya, Saroj Rai, Ensemble), Nasir Panjwani (understudy for Varun, Mohan Rai, Bholuram, Lottery, Tamezuddin, Vikram), Salena Qureshi (Aditi), Jonathan Raviv (Mohan Rai/ME understudyfor Tej, Lalit), Gagan Dev Riar (Lalit), Devina Sabnis (Ensemble, understudy for Ria, Aliya, Saroj), SEVAN (CL, understudy for Lalit), Kinshuk Sen (Varun, understudy for Dubey and Lalit), Alok Tewari (Tej), Aathaven Tharmarajah (understudy for Dubey, CL, Varun, Bholuram, Lottery, Tamezuddin), and Rhea Yadav (Aliya).