If you come to think of it, The Great Gatsby's story is as Pakistani as it gets. A poor boy, Jay Gatsby, falls in love with a lovely, rich debutante, Daisy Buchanan, but she's out of his reach. Eventually she marries a rich guy and he decides to go on a voyage where he saves the life of...wait for it....a billionaire! Now we know what inspired Samira Fazal for Mann Mayal's script. Like Salahuddin, Gatsby too suddenly finds himself in a huge mansion, but unlike Sallu he is not a well-educated man and the only thing he relies on to look as cultured as the rest of the billionaires is his "Old Sport".
Arguably the great American novel's similarities to our culture may have coerced Mustafa Changazi into making an adaptation out of it for the Pakistani audience. The theatre play, The Great Gatsby, will hit the Elbow Room - situated in Karachi - on November 4th.
While we wait for the theatre play to woo us yet again, let's have a look at the changes The Great Gatsby would've undergone if it was actually made in a stereotypical Pakistani way.
The 'Zabardast Chaudhry'?
Gatsby isn't really a Pakistani name so first and foremost, we'll have to change the title from 'Great Gatsby' to 'Zabardast Chaudhry'. Daisy will become Gulbahar - this is what Daisy translates to in Urdu - and Nick can be Nabeel, and the rest you guys can decide as per your preference. Anyway, Chaudhry and Gulbahar's love story sounds more promising than Gatsby and Daisy's, doesn't it? No? Okay, to each their own.
'Old Sport' would turn to 'Barkhurdar'
There's nothing about Leonardo DiCaprio that can put us off but his non-stop usage of "old sport" almost made us turn off the TV and quit watching the supposed masterpiece. However, if The Great Gatsby was made here in Pakistan, the film would have been sprinkled with a bucket load of barkhurdars.
Imagine Leo saying, "Barkhurdar, I'm a son of very wealthy people, but unfortunately, they're all dead."
Replace the grand parties with weddings and dholkis
In a Pakistani world, Gatsby could easily be that rich bachelor uncle who hosts all the Nikkah ceremonies, dholkies and baat pakkis because he has the hugest lawn in the family. And Gatsby would meet Daisy during one of these parties while she's dancing on Balle Balle.
FYI: Daisy might not even make it to "the party'!
Because, firstly, she is married and married Pakistani women (at least on our television/cinema screens) do not party - they take care of their husbands, children, in-laws or just cry miserably on a prayer mat. Secondly, 'girls' in Pakistan are absolutely forbidden to attend parties hosted by unknown men, so her going to a party is completely out of the question, especially when her intentions aren't exactly 'pure'.
Oh, but how can we forget Daisy's cousin, Nick Carraway, who's adamant on uniting the two.
A typical Pakistani cousin will never help Gatsby meet 'his' cousin
"Over my dead body!" would yell a typical Pakistani cousin if a rich stranger ever asked him to arrange a shoddy meeting with one of his relations. He wouldn't let a strange lad turn his house into a bouquet and woo his not-so-innocent cousin.
"Perhaps more chapairs?" is more like it.
"The way he looked at her was the way every girl wanted to be looked at"
This is one famous dialogue from The Great Gatsby that had us heading for our smelling salts, but if you happen to reside in Pakistan then you do not want any male to look at you...even if it's by accident. No girl wants to be looked at in Pakistan. We get upset if you smile at us. And we will label you as 'dirty creep' if you dare to pay us a compliment.
Yes, so make sure you scratch this dialogue when you're remaking The Great Gatsby in Pakistan.
Throwing a tantrum is a 'rich' thing in Pakistan
Remember when Gatsby suddenly lost his temper in that sweltering hotel room while Tom (Daisy's husband) remained calm because the former was nouveau riche while the latter was 'old money'. Well, guess what, in Pakistan only the rich and powerful have the luxury to throw tantrums and get away with it.
They can even shoot people and head to their swiss lodges for a nice vacation, so this little glitch will have to be reviewed in the Pakistani version of the film. Maybe they can reverse the situation where Gatsby just sits there meekly listening to Tom's insults and doesn't utter a word to defend himself? That will be a telltale sign that he doesn't belong to the Pakistani elite.
While The Great Gatsby will undergo a lot of changes if it was made in Pakistan, the central idea is quite desi, especially when Gatsby is seen boasting like a madman or when the status difference leads to some major setback in both Daisy and Gatsby's life, or when Daisy's husband cheats on her, and the list goes on.