World Book Day: World Book and Copyright Day is celebrated on April 23 every year to promote the joy of reading. April 23 is symbolic for world literature as it is a tribute to iconic writers like Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, who died on this date.
The legacy of the Shakespeare is being kept alive in India through mainstream cinema interpreting his works in various ways. Shakespeare’s plays have a universality to them that has seen continual adaptations, reinterpretations and explorations in various forms. Here are some films inspired by the classic plays –
Gunasundari Katha ( Telugu) – King Lear
Very few know that this popular Telugu classic by KV Reddi is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’. When K.V. Reddi decided to produce and direct folklore for Vauhini for the first time, he felt he should come up with a different tale. Drawing inspiration from Shakespeare’s, ‘King Lear,’ he asked writer Pingali Nagendra Rao to create a story. Gunasundari Katha, while the English bard had made it a great tragedy, K.V. Reddi, his associate director Kamalakara Kameswara Rao (both wrote the screenplay) and story-writer Pingali converted it, in tune with Indian traditional values, into a full-length entertainer and succeeded in making the movie an astounding success.
Hamlet ( Hindi) – Hamlet
Hamlet is a tale by Shakespeare that very succinctly captures ambition, love, jealousy and lust for power through familial relations, and quite a difficult plot to execute with all of its complexities to which the Oedipus complex is added. The 2014 Bollywood remake by Shakespeare-lover, Vishal Bharadwaj, titled ‘Haider’, which captures the essence of the play while transforming its context to the troubled territory of Kashmir that has become a political background for the Indian and Pakistani state alike. Haider received both critical acclaim and commercial success, getting rave reviews for Shaid Kapoor.
RamLeela ( Hindi) – Romeo Juliet
The classic tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet has been inspirational for filmmakers, theatricians, artists, poets and performers across the world. India is no exception, with this Shakespearean drama finding itself as the source of inspiration for many a Bollywood film. The 2013 Sanjay Leela Bhansali direction, ‘Goliyo Ki Raseela Ram Leela’ was one such adaptation, which was well received at the box office.
Angoor ( Hindi) -Comedy of Errors
Comedy of Errors, a tale by Shakespeare, is also one play that has made its way to the big screens in commercial cinema of India. An adaptation of the play, ‘Angoor’ from 1962 was directed by Gulzar, and has been rated among top comedies of all times in Bollywood. With catchy songs and hilarious punchlines, ‘Angoor’ was a wonderful adaptation.
Omkara ( Hindi) – Othello
Othello, the dark tragedy by Shakespeare, continues to capture the imagination of many. Othello has inspired regional cinema in India, with films from Bengal, Kerala and other places, having been made through the years. However, it was truly brought to the big Bollywood screen by Bharadwaj’s ‘Omkara’, released in 2006. A tale that brings identity-based issues, such as caste and political stances, with Uttar Pradesh as the backdrop, ‘Omkara’ explores power and outlines the destructive nature of jealousy.