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Shakespeare in Bollywood

From Gulzar's Angoor to Sanjay Bhansali's Goliyon Ki Raasleela - Ram-leela, Bollywood’s love for Shakespeare continues. As Vishal Bhardwaj shoots for his next Haider, an adaptation of Hamlet, we take a look at films inspired by the writer.

bollywood Updated: Dec 04, 2013 15:17 IST
Prashant Singh

In the world of lights, camera and action, trends change almost every Friday. However, Bollywood’s love for Shakesperean literature never loses steam.

While Vishal Bhardwaj has been famously — and successfully— adapting the bard’s works on the big screen in movies such as Maqbool (2004) and Omkara (2006) , we are witnessing a renewed interest of sorts in the 16th-century writer’s work all over again.

English vinglish

Last year saw the Purab Kohli-Tisca Chopra-starrer 10 ml Love, which is based on Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This year kicked off with the Prateik Babbar-starrer Issaq, which was director Manish Tiwary’s interpretation of Romeo And Juliet.

Ishaqzaade (2012) too was believed to be based on the same eternal love tale.

In fact, Sanjay Leela Bhansali too picked up the bard’s famous love story and placed it in a unique setting in the recently released Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela. "(For me) the challenge was how to do something different with it. I couldn’t make it the way Shakespeare wrote it…the execution of Shakespeare is more flirtatious," said Bhansali in a previous interview.

An obsession?

Bhardwaj’s Haider, a movie set in Kashmir and starring Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor, is currently in the pipeline. It is an an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. "I have made things difficult for myself. But for my trilogy, I thought let me at least attempt something big," says the film-maker, whose previous adaptations have been based on Macbeth and Othello.

The latest we’ve heard is that Aashiqi (1990) actor Rahul Roy is reportedly returning to the silver screen with a psychological thriller To Be Or Not To Be, which is inspired by Hamlet.

Interestingly, Hollywood screenwriter Sam Sterling is apparently working on a film, titled Shakespeare Goes Bollywood, another interpretation of Romeo And Juliet. Bollywood’s excessive love for Shakespeare also makes one wonder if the Hindi film industry is too obsessed with his classics. Says writer-director Rumy Jaffrey, "He is arguably the world’s greatest writer. While some of us might be unaware of other writers like Maxim Gorky or Charles Dickens, everyone has heard of Shakespeare. We have made films on Premchand and Sarat Chandra Chatterjee in the past but now, clearly no one’s interested."

Bard in Bollywood

Zalim Saudagar (1941): JJ Madan had adapted Shakespeare’s The Merchant Of Venice for his film starring Jahan Ara.

Angoor (1982): Gulzar’s classic was based on Shakespeare’s Comedy Of Errors.

Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988): The film was believed to be inspired by the hit play, Romeo And Juliet.

Maqbool (2004): Vishal Bhardwaj adapted Mcbeth for his Irrfan-Tabu starrer hit.

Omkara (2006): Bhardwaj also adapted Othello to make a multi starrer with Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor.