Bollywood Parody of Romeo and Juliet

A Project Prototype by Sai Bhatawadekar

published on Jun 30, 2016

This is a cross-cultural creative project that involves co-writing, directing, and performing a parody of an iconic Indian film. (Think the Mel Brooks genre of spoofs!)

 First we saw the trailers of Indian films being shown at the Bollywood Film Festival at the Honolulu Museum of Art. We decided on one film to watch together - RamLeela - an adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set in modern India. After watching and discussing the film, we co-wrote, directed, and performed an abridged spoof of the film. The performance was both live in front of a South Asian audience and also recorded on camera as a short film, then edited and uploaded on youtube. We had to work with a complex film text, its language proficiency, cross-cultural and historical significance. The creative process played out in many dimensions. To begin with students needed to make the complexity accessible and palatable (quite literally in terms of verbal articulation) at their given proficiency level at the same time as they let the film push themselves and their competence out of their comfort zone - linguistic, cultural, kinesthetic, humorous, musical, theatrical, and personal!  

Click on our parody here: RamuLeelu in Honolulu

  

 

Overview files comments

Preparing for the Project

Movie Trailers

Watching and Discussing the Movie

Launching the Project

Main Characters and Scenes

First Scene

Subsequent Scenes

Begin Co-Directing

We Have a Play!

Rehearsals and Performance

Managing the Project

Tasks not specified.

Assessment

Assessment

Implementation Info

Implementation information not specified.

Preparing for the Project

Movie Trailers

Go to the Honolulu Bollywood Film Festival website and check out the lineup for this year's movies. Watch trailers and discuss our reactions to them. Which trailers we find interesting, why? What genres are represented? Which movie would we like to go and see? When? Do our schedules match?

Technology Tips

Honolulu Museum of Art website access. 

Youtube. 

Task Extension

This would be an in class and homework activity. Discussing and then writing out which movie trailers we saw, which we liked and which we didn't, why, which movie fits in everyone's schedule. 

Watching and Discussing the Movie

Go together, watch the movie. Come back to class and discuss how we liked the movie. Teacher gives cultural and film historic background for the movie. 

Technology Tips

none 

Task Extension

writing assignment 

Launching the Project

Main Characters and Scenes

To start writing the spoof, first identify absolutely necessary main characters for the plotline and do small auditions in class where everyone decides who's playing which role.

First Scene

Begin brainstorming and writing the opening scene in class as a group. I get the ball rolling helping students get into the groove of distilling absolutely necessary and simple information about the scene and not get lost in the details and complexity of what the scene might be in the movie. But at the same time, if there are any iconic and dramatic line or two in that scene in the movie, we decide to keep them. We parse them and understand. Practice saying them with all the drama and gestures. We hash out a small opening scene and do a dramatic reading of it first. Then act it out. 

Task Extension

Writing assignment 

Subsequent Scenes

Once the ball gets rolling, I divide people in groups and assign different scenes to different groups, both as in class work and homework. They upload their raw scenes onto our course page beforehand and/or bring their scenes to class. We read the script for the next scene in line, together brainstorm how to simplify and improve it. Everybody takes notes on how the scene is improved. As homework assignment everybody writes the changed scene and turns it in.

Task Extension

Homework, group work, group feedback, improvement, etc. 

Begin Co-Directing

We act out the scene, co-direct it, work on our pronunciations, actions, delivery, etc. I fill in cultural nuances in all of those things. We make more changes to the script if the ones we had made don't work with actual acting.

We Have a Play!

As we work through the process scene by scene, groups are free to change their previously thought out scenes if the gradual changes inspire them to write something else. We make the spoof as hilarious, over the top ridiculous as possible. I help with throwing in some cross cultural references, movie history references, inside jokes, etc.

 

Throughout this process I allow considerable madness to the method, in order for the creative dynamics to work freely and spontaneously, for the students to feel they are collaboratively yet individually working off of each other for the good of the play.

Rehearsals and Performance

Once we finalize the script and have preliminarily acted through the scenes too, we start rehearsals, figure out music and dance sequences etc. We keep rehearsing till we feel good and ready!

 

We perform in front of a mixed audience - South Asian and non-South Asians. Also, we perform our scenes, while I video record. I edit and put together a short film. 

Technology Tips

Filming and editing. 

Managing the Project

Assessment

Assessment

The content – the script, the direction, and the performance – evolve and are assessed organically and collaboratively. We all weigh in on what works and what needs to change. This is better for students' creative energy working off of one another. We work collaboratively for the good of the play. 

 

Language is assessed in a more structured way. Script writing is done as group activities and individual homework. Students have to submit their scenes, first draft and subsequent drafts. As part of the process, there is peer review of their drafts in class and suggestions for change and smooth transitioning. Everyone has to turn in the finalized versions of the scripts individually. They are graded on all stages of script writing.

 

During rehearsals, we take turns playing different roles, so all of us get practice with the delivery and articulation of everyone's lines. We have to read aloud the script and switch roles during initial readings. But eventually we focus on our roles.

 

21st century skills like creativity, collaboration, cross-cultural quests, cross-disciplinary connections, problem solving, out of the box thinking, dynamic interaction are all part of the organic process of the project. Script writing, rehearsals, and performances are viewed as manifestations of these skills.

 

Writing, directing, and performing a spoof of a Bollywood blockbuster is an activity immersed in cultural insights. Their creativity would have to come from within it. I guide them through the process and together we understand and craft lines, moves, gestures, expressions, etc. They embody the culture through the process, not just understand it.


The final product is assessed live through their performance, through audience appreciation, connection with the community, YouTube video and worldwide responses to the video. During the process we keep shooting gag reels too, in order to improve the final product.

 

Students accumulate grades for their written drafts and rehearsals throughout the process. The final performance is a certain percentage of their grade for the segment.

 

 

Implementation Info

Files

Comments