Dickens Wallah



It was when the writer Ayeesha Menon was at a large family gathering in Bangalore a number of years back, that something about her large, Indian family made her realise that the whole situation looked surprisingly Dickensian. Then she looked beyond her family to India as a whole "the gap between rich and poor, the unbridled development, the massive social changes, the migration from the countryside to the cities" and it all seemed so obvious. Far from being a vestige of the colonial era, Dickens' novels talk to India today.

In Dickens Wallah - a curtain raiser to the three-part Classic Serial The Mumbai Chuzzlewits, Ayeesha Menon explains the thinking behind her adaptation. We also hear from British playwright Tanika Gupta who adapted Great Expectations into an Indian setting, for a touring stage production earlier this year. With members of the cast of The Mumbai Chuzzlewits talking about their own experience of growing up in India with Dickens firmly on the school syllabus, Dickens Wallah sets the mood for a Radio 4 re-interpretation of one of Dickens' classic novels.

Producer: Nicola Barranger

A Goldhawk Essential Production for BBC Radio 4.

Why Dickens's timeless story of love, greed and hypocrisy works in an Indian setting.