First-generation arranged marriage musical film to show in New Hope
NEW HOPE, PA – Priya Ghosh, a Council Rock South South alumnus of Richboro who made her theater debut in a Bucks County Playhouse production of “The King And I,” will return to her hometown on August 1 to show a movie that she produced.
“It will be such a close loop for me, from acting at the age of six to showing my film in the musical theater in one place,” she said.
Ghosh’s film “Last Night In Vegas” was created in collaboration with director and fellow Savannah College of Art and Design graduate J. Nicholas Meese. The couple met very early in film school and bonded around their common interest in musical theater and their common experience as children of first generation immigrants.
“Last Night In Vegas,” a story they developed together as part of a senior thesis project, follows a young Bengali American woman named Aria as she recounts a pretty wild night in Vegas. It’s the night of her bachelorette party, the day before her arranged marriage, and also the night she ends up marrying a random man in a Vegas chapel. (The lyrics “Marrying an Almost Perfect Stranger” take on several meanings over the course of the eight-minute song).
Throughout the film in one shot, with sets rising and falling behind her and background characters swirling in and out of the frame, Aria sings about the difficulty of negotiating her heritage and family expectations within a cultural context. American.
Taking a photo continuously for eight minutes is no small feat; but Meese said they saw it as a fun challenge and a tribute to their favorite type of performance.
“We obviously love when things seem effortless, but what’s so great about musical theater is all the effort that goes into it,” he said. “All the work that goes into it is on screen.”
To create a musical piece, the duo also needed an original song. As a “moonshot”, they contacted composer Nikko Benson with the concept. He said he would work with them, and they started a collaboration to develop their concept in the lyrics. The result was the original song “Before You Know It”.
“We knew how we wanted to tell the story,” Ghosh said. “We knew what the rhythms were of the way we were exploring it in our one-shot, in this kind of memory, theater of the mind [style]. We brought this to Nikko, and he did his genius thing and made it work. ”
In total, the process of editing the film from the first idea to its promotion has now taken almost three years. The COVID-19 pandemic striking in the midst of post-production has further complicated matters – although these two have risen to the challenge.
“We like to have control over all aspects of the production to the extent possible,” Meese said. “In the end, it was so great to be able to work tactically on every part of this movie.”
For both of them, what matters most now is sharing the story with a wider audience. (Anne Hathaway was actually seen wearing a “Last Night In Vegas” product on her face shield). Meese said they had previously received comments from viewers who connected with the “specific little minutiae and struggles” of the first-generation experience articulated in the song.
Ghosh is proud to have told this particular story in this particular form.
“In the musical theater community there are ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Bombay Dreams’,” she said. “And none of them are an accurate representation of the Indian community. There is currently only one Broadway star who has a lead role who is Indian, and she was the first since ‘Bombay Dreams’ in 2002. ”
One of his biggest hopes for the film is that the song will have life beyond the screen – and that people can even bring it to auditions.
“I wanted to have a song especially for Indian girls,” she said. “Who can be like, this musical theater bop is for me to sing.”
Learn more about “Last Night In Vegas” via their website or watch it on August 1 at noon at the New Hope Film Festival.
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