Today the New York Times posted an obituary for William Shakespeare, dead at age 52:
On this date — April 23, 1616 — the creator of “Hamlet,” “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet” left the beauty of this world. To us, he bequeathed his tragedies and comedies, his sonnets and verse, which would survive 400 years.
Bollywood film screenwriter, director and producer Subhash Ghai recognized the anniversary of Shakespeare's death with the following tweet.
#happy Shakespeare 400 -d greatest writer who wrote - world is a theatre play n we the actors who have our own entry n exit at one time 🙏— Subhash Ghai (@SubhashGhai1) April 23, 2016
While there are a number of Hindi films which take their inspiration from Shakespeare, the following are four favorite Bollywood adaptations of the Bard's works that you should watch if you are new to Bollywood.
These films are adaptations, so they reimagine the original story within the cultural, geopolitical and religious landscape of India. In these films, the writer, director and producer are often the same person -- highlighting the value of nurturing one person's uniquely creative genius and vision.
Description: Crime drama. After university, Haider (Shahid Kapoor) returns to Kashmir where he discovers not only that his mother (Tabu) is having an affair with his uncle (Kay Kay Menon) but also that the man is responsible for his father's gruesome murder.
Why I Love This Film: This brilliant film features all the drama and political machinations of the original story but with real events of 1990s Kashmir as the background. The conclusion is true in spirit, if not in full body count, to the original story. The Kashmir region offers a beautiful setting for this narrative of bleak betrayal. The music from the film is magnificent, heightening the emotional toll of the deadly tale.
Adaptation of: Romeo and Juliet
Release Date: 5 November 2013
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Music by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Chetan Deolekar, Kishore Lulla, Sandeep Singh
Producer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Hemu Gadhvi, Monty Sharma
Description: Romantic-tragedy. A man (Ranveer Singh) from a crime family falls in love with a woman (Deepika Padukone) from an rival crime family who is resistant to her family's choice of a husband for her. The murder of family members casts a dark shadow over their union but this adaptation expands upon the original by intensifying their pain as they rise to leadership positions in their respective clans -- forcing the lovers to become enemies.
Why I Love This Film: The film mixes traditional and modern themes to create a completely unique setting for this tragic romance. The music and dance numbers are outstanding, but the film is brought to life through the intense on-screen chemistry of the two leads who flirt, fight, and follow their hearts with wild abandon. The set design and costumes add a beautiful tapestry that indulges the eye while the story indulges the heart.
Description: Crime drama. Half-caste bandit Omkara Shukla (Ajay Devgn) abducts his lady love, Dolly Mishra (Kareena Kapoor Khan), from her family. Thanks to his cleverness, he gets away with the kidnapping. A conspiracy forms against "Omi" when he denies his right-hand man, Langda Tyagi (Saif Ali Khan), a promotion. Langda takes advantage of the innocence of Dolly, the trust of Omkara, and the loyalty of Omkara's deputy Keshav Upadhyay (Vivek Oberoi) to weave a web of misunderstanding that leads to a tragic ending.
Why I Love This Film: Omkara's jealousy over Dolly is fueled by many sources beyond Langda, but ultimately it is his henchman's actions that bring down the clever crime boss. The dialogue and cinematography create a real, rough, and raw story about love, loyalty and politics. This adaptation presents images and a plot that stay with you long after the movie is over.
Description: Crime drama. In Mumbai's criminal underworld, the lord of all lords is the aging Jahangir "Abbaji" Khan (Pankaj Kapoor). Those loyal to him include his right-hand man Maqbool (Irrfan Khan) and two corrupt police officers (Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah), who also predict that Maqbool will take over from Abbaji. Nimmi (Tabu), Jahangir's mistress, seduces Maqbool and convinces him to eliminate Abbaji. After maneuvering potential rivals out of the way, Maqbool betrays Jahangir, murdering him in his own bed. However, it isn't long before both Maqbool and Nimmi are haunted by the ghosts of their treacherous deeds.
Why I Love This Film: This unique adaptation resonates on a different level than your standard Bollywood film. In this dark story, you see many of the players manipulating people and events within their reach. After a bloodbath of a power play to take over Abbaji's empire, both Maqbool and Nimmi become psychologically and emotionally unstable and their union becomes somewhat unhinged. As astrologers and henchmen to Maqbool, the corrupt police officers are involved in both predicting and shaping events, giving them a more active and important role than Macbeth's three witches. Puri and Shah play their parts brilliantly.
The following playlist features the available trailers for each of these four film adaptations of Shakespeare's classics.
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