Nair pic set to make splash as B'way tuner

Director Mira Nair has begun developing her comedy “Monsoon Wedding” as a Broadway musical. Nair is negotiating with producers Margo Lion (“Hairspray”) and Robyn Goodman (“Metamorphoses”) to mount the musical for a 2004 stage bow. Nair will direct it.

Pic, the eighth most successful foreign-language film released in the U.S., won the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival and drew a Golden Globe nom. The film and Nair are Oscar-eligible this year. The comedy explores a large family’s chaotic reunion for a wedding as tradition bumps up against change in contemporary India. Focus distributed the film.

“It has really got all the ingredients, even though it hadn’t occurred to me that it could be a musical until Sam Cohn told me it should be one,” Nair said.

After the film, she headed home to Kampala, Uganda. “When I returned, we had three offers from well-known Broadway producers. I saw everything each of them did and responded most favorably to Margo. ‘Hairspray’ was totally infectious, and she was tenacious and passionate.”

Lion said that discussions have just begun on how to make the film for the stage. Nair is set to direct Reese Witherspoon in an adaptation of the William Thackeray novel “Vanity Fair” for Focus. Filming begins in the spring in the U.K. Nair is also developing a Carsey-Werner-Mandabach comedy pilot about an Indian family that runs a chain of New Jersey motels. She plans to direct that pilot and exec produce the series. But she has left plenty of time to ready the stage musical.

“I really want to preserve the authenticity of the piece, so I will direct it,” she said. “It might be hard for someone else to understand the modernity of the piece. I want to preserve the fun, truth and flamboyance. We’ll put the creative team together in the next few months, get the songs and the book and be ready for early 2004.”

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