Multicultural cast to stage Indian hit as a musical

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 June, 2012, 12:00am


A theatre company hopes to stage an educational musical adaptation of the novel on which hit Bollywood comedy 3 Idiots was based.

Ko Tin-lung, artistic director of the Chung Ying Theatre Company, said the performances for students at the Sunbeam Theatre would feature a multicultural cast to expand audiences' cultural horizons.

'Many school principals have told me that this film is very educational. And we want to adapt the story for a stage version, featuring a cast of local Indians and Chinese,' Ko said.

Ko, who supports home affairs undersecretary Florence Hui Hiu-fai's bid to be Hong Kong's first culture minister, said the theatre company had acquired the rights to the original novel Five Point Someone from Indian author Chetan Bhagat, who is expected to visit the city during the Hong Kong Book Fair in July. 'The price [of the rights] was reasonable,' Ko said.

Bhagat's 2004 best-selling debut novel tells about three friends who have made it to the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi but are struggling to make it in the school's system, where grades mean everything.

The film version, directed by Rajkumar Hirani and released in 2009, did extremely well at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing film in India on its opening weekend and the highest-grossing Bollywood film overseas, raking in US$76.8 million by February. In Hong Kong, it had taken HK$22 million by January.

The multiple-award-winning film has earned rave reviews internationally, but there was controversy over the adaptation. The film's makers bought the rights to a direct adaptation, but subsequently indicated it was only loosely based on the novel. When the film first opened, Bhagat and the production team had a row over where in the closing credits Bhagat's name should be placed.

Ko said the musical would be staged at the small auditorium in the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point and that he had planned for 20 shows - but for now only for students.

'I hope that with a mixed cast, this performance can widen students' cultural vision, and turn the theatre into a multicultural venue,' he said.

It would be the first time he works with Indians in the cast, Ko said, and he hopes to find performers through the Indian Chamber of Commerce.