The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0195  Thursday, 11 August 2011


From:         Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, August 11, 11

Subject:      Bollywood Shakespeares


Last Friday (SHK 22.0189), I announced that I had just received two Bollywood adaptations of Shakespeare plays both directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, which had been recommended to me. I have since viewed them. I was thoroughly impressed by them both, finding them completely imbedded in their cultures and suggesting but not bending unnaturally the plots to evoke the originals.


Maqbool (2003) is set in contemporary Mumbai (Bombay). Maqbool (Irfan Khan) is loyal henchman to Jahangir Khan, “Abbaji” (Pankaj Kapoor), a prominent head of a criminal organization in Mumbai. Jahangir Khan’s mistress, Nimmi (Tabu), has an affair with Maqbool and encourages him to kill Jahangir Khan and take over the organization lest it come under the control of his best friend Kaka’s (Piyush Mishra) son, Guddu (Ajay Gehi), who plans to marry Jahangir Khan’s only daughter. Pandit (Om Puri) and Purohit (Naseeruddin Shah), two corrupt policemen, one of whom is an astrologer, represent the weird sisters and a metaphoric representation of the sea is the story’s Birnam Wood.


Omkara (2006): Omkara 'Omi' Shukla (Ajay Devgan), a so-called half-caste, illegitimate son of a high-cast man and a low-cast woman with whom he has an affair, is a baahubali, an enforcer (in subtitles General) for the politician Bhaisaab. Dolly (Kareena Kapoor), the daughter of the advocate Raghunath Mishra (Kamal Tiwari) runs off with Omi, abandoning her own wedding to Rajan, her father’s choice. Bhaisaab is elected to parliament and appoints Omi as a candidate for local election to his former position. Omi in turn selects Keshav 'Kesu Firangi' Upadhyay (Vivek Oberoi), a college-educated philander who is popular with the electorate, rather than his long-serving second in command and hit man Ishwar 'Langda' Tyagi (Saif Ali Khan) who is married to his sister Indu (Konkona Sen Sharma). At Omi’s and Dolly’s engagement, Langda shames Kesu into getting drunk and the enraged Omi strips Kesu of his position. Langda then insinuates to Omi that college friends Kesu and Dolly are having an affair producing a kamarbandh, a jeweled wedding belt that he had stolen and given to Kesu to give to his mistress Billo Chamanbahar (Bipasha Basu) as ocular proof. Havoc ensues. 


The DVD of Omkara is available from Netflix: http://movies.netflix.com/WiSearch?oq=omkar&ac_posn=1&v1=Omkara


I purchased both from Planet Bollywood through Amazon.com at a reasonable price.



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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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