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Bill-bhai ki natak

books Updated: Nov 26, 2011 13:02 IST
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Shakespeare: The Indian Icon
The readers paradise
Rs 1,995 pp 836
William Shakespeare, as everyone from Kandivli to Kankurgachi knows, is as much an Indian icon as Tagore is. The chances of you being more familiar with Macbeth, the work of a 16th-17th century English playwright, than with Ghashiram Kotwal, the work of a 20th century Indian playwright, are quite high. So it comes as no surprise to find a compendium of essays, some of them first-rate, on Shakespeare and his works by Indian scholars and writers down the years. Edited by Vikram Chopra, who taught English Literature at the Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, Delhi University, Shakespeare: The Indian Icon, has essays by RK Narayan ('What Shakespeare means to me'), Ebrahim Alkazi ('Productíon of Shakespeare plays') and Sukanta Chaudhuri ('King, villain, sacrifice: Macbeth as tragic hero'). But this doortstopper is uneven in its quality, suddenly mixing banal pieces with precious essays. We get the history of Hindustani stage productions (JN Kaushal) as well as 'Lear's 'Pelican daughters' and the feminist critics' (Sikander Lal). What is truly a turn-off is the horrendous production quality of the book. Which is, as the bard from Stratford Avon-ki-Paar would have said, "'Tis true, 'tis pity/ and pity 'tis, 'tis true."