Gandalf is coming to the city and so is Richard III. Come May 23, the indefatigable British actor Sir Ian McKellen will be kick-starting a global tour called Shakespeare on Film marking the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. And his first stop is Mumbai.
The programme starts celebrating the bard by having the veteran actor in conversation with a Bollywood superstar (whose name isn’t disclosed as yet) and it will also mark the launch of the MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) Film Club. On the next day, film buffs can treat themselves to Sir McKellen hosting the screening of Richard III (1995) the film he co-adapted for the big screen and starred in.
Shakespeare Lives was launched by the British Council and GREAT Britain Campaign on April 23 in 110 countries. McKellen is the ambassador for the film part of the programme, which has been specially curated by the British Film Institute and is considered one of their biggest. It includes 18 classic films like Theatre of Blood (1973), Next (1990) and Prospero’s Books (1991), which will be shown in 110 countries. In India, eight other cities, including Pune, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chandigarh, among others will watch 11 of these films across the year.
Sharon Memis, director West India, British Council, says, “If we are going to be talking about film, where else will you start a global tour but Mumbai? The British Council had commissioned a research as part of the Shakespeare Lives programme called ‘All the World’s’ report which showed that Indians ranked the highest when it came to liking and understanding Shakespeare even better than the British.”
Referring to Sir McKellen’s visit, she shares, “He is one of the greatest and most intelligent Shakespearan actors in the world. Plus, he is someone who really believes in the importance of Shakespeare.”
“The conversation is what I am most looking forward to. Cinema lovers will get an insight into the veteran actor’s craft, be able to hear about his experience adapting Shakespeare’s plays to film, and get to engage with him through a Q&A,” shares Kiran Rao, chairperson, MAMI, who emphasises that the film club will engage cinema lovers in year-round events, including screenings, master classes, film appreciation workshops, knowledge bootcamps, digital knowledge series among others.
The bard’s plays have always had an instant connect with India, says MAMI director Anupama Chopra. “Some of Hindi cinema’s highest quality films are rooted in Shakespeare from Maqbool (2004) to Angoor (1982) to Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). I think Shakespeare’s writing lends itself beautifully to the Hindi film form, which combines elements into a seamless blend — so high and low mix as do tragedy, comedy and romance,” she adds. Sir McKellen will also be inaugurating the seventh KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival on May 25.
Tickets for all of his events will soon be available on bookmyshow.com. For more details, visit shakespearelives.org and britishcouncil.in.