Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj is often called Shakespearewallah. For, rarely has one come across an Indian moviemaker so obsessed with the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare. Bhardwaj, who began his career as a music composer with Gulzar's Maachis, recently released his directorial venture, Haider, which completed the trilogy of Shakespearean tragedies.
Now, he wants to move on to the Bard's comedies. During a session at the Knowledge Series, organised here as part of the ongoing Film Bazaar - which runs along with the International Film Festival of India - Bhardwaj said: "The works of Shakespeare are timeless and adapted to circumstantial incidents. His plays are human stories that present basic human conflicts with lots of human emotions.
"I love to contemporise his works, while finding a parallel to my own world, my own life. In fact, the first movie that played on my sub-consciousness was Gulzar's Angoor, which was based on Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare.
"In school, students hate Shakespeare, what with the classical English that includes words like thou, thee, thy. But I, fortunately, got to know him when I had matured enough to understand his literature," Bhardwaj quipped.
"Actually, I can live my entire life just producing films based on Shakespeare's plays," Bhardwaj said. He contended that he had been tempted to do King Lear, but opted for Hamlet.
But now, he would rather adapt three of the English playwright's comedies. "But I would do them with all the seriousness they deserve," he noted.
In 2003, Bhardwaj made Maqbool, an adaptation of Macbeth, which took us to Bombay's underworld. He followed this with Omkara in 2006, an Indian look at Othello that dragged us to the badlands of Uttar Pradesh. In 2014 he gave us Haider, based on Hamlet, which is set in Kashmir during the days when the valley was torn apart by insurgency.
Film Bazaar - whose eighth edition is now on - has proved to be a wonderful platform where directors, sellers and buyers come together.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Film Bazaar and IFFI 2014 for Hindustan Times.)