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Hesse's Siddhartha now a musical

"Sidd": A little song and dance while trudging along the road to enlightenment.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 19:01 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Searching for the meaning of life is serious business, so why not take the edge off with a little song and dance while trudging along the road to enlightenment?

That could be the mantra of "Sidd," a new off-Broadway musical based on Hermann Hesse's 1922 novel, Siddhartha. The unlikely concept deserves points for originality and the show is performed by a bright and talented cast, led by Indian actor Manu Narayan (Bombay Dreams).

Unfortunately, this light take on a heavy book struggles to find a comfortable middle ground on which to exist. What is more important, it doesn't get much help from a generally unadventurous score that is not displeasing, but not remarkable.

Hesse's Siddhartha is a contemplative, coming-of-age story about an exceptionally gifted young man who turns his back on the material comforts of his high-caste life and ventures into the forest to search for true meaning. The book follows his spiritual evolution as he explores a range of philosophies and learns from a series of life-changing experiences, including a pivotal encounter with the Buddha.

The study of Eastern religions and philosophies was central in the work of the German-born Hesse (1877-1962), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. The English translation of Siddhartha (which didn't appear until 1951) is considered an important influence on the American writers of the Beat Generation.

Anyone familiar with the novel might wonder how a medium such as musical theatre could possibly convey the essence of such a cerebral, meditative book.

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 18:05 IST