William Shakespeare and his work have a special place in the heart of Indian Cinema. We would have missed a lot of masterpieces if not for the adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. It amazes me how the plays, written about 400 years ago with different circumstances and situations around, still manage to find relevance in today’s world, and that too, in the Indian cinema.
Shakespeare’s eternal characters, their emotions, and the consequences of their actions are just so raw and real that even over a period of four centuries, they have aged well enough to still make sense and inspire the most celebrated form of entertainment today, the cinema!
My recently discovered fondness of cinema made me read about how Shakespeare’s plays have influenced and inspired not just the big screens of mainstream Indian cinema, but regional cinema as well.
Here is a list of Indian movies adapted and inspired by William Shakespeare’s work:
Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (Romeo and Juliet)
The movie that spiked Ranveer and Deepika’s career and their romance, of course, was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a director known for the grandeur of his sets, costumes, and mise-en-scène.
Set in a fictional town of Gujarat, the movie is a contemporary adaptation of much acclaimed ‘Romeo and Juliet’. While there are other on-screen adaptations of the play, this is the most acclaimed one with big names from Bollywood. It was a commercial success.
The movie marks the onset of Vishal Bharadwaj’s Shakespearean trilogy. Based on ‘Macbeth’, a play with the main theme of death & revenge, the movie starred a brilliant ensemble cast of Tabu, late Irrfan Khan, Pankaj Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Piyush Mishra, and late Om Puri.
I mean, Bharadwaj really went like ‘Avengers, Assemble’ with this movie. With the setting of Mumbai's underworld, this movie is a brilliant take on the play and impresses one with the actors’ performances.
Another feather in the hat of Bharadwaj, this movie is based on ‘Othello’ and is the second in his Shakespearean trilogy. With the underlying theme of jealousy, actors Ajay Devgn’s, Saif Ali Khan’s and Vivek Oberoi’s performances were critically acclaimed. One of the most impressive aspects of this movie is its music, which I am sure we all still dance to.
The third in Bharadwaj’s list, this movie is set in the beautiful yet much-conflicted backdrop of Kashmir. Casting and music have been strong suites of this director and that shows in this movie too.
10 ml Love (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
A play that revolves around the theme of romance, love, and marriage is one of the most celebrated works of Shakespeare. It inspired this offbeat movie starring Rajat Kapoor, Tisca Chopra, and Neil Bhoolpalam.
The movie has a big Punjabi wedding in its background and translates this romantic comedy in a much more contemporary way for its audience.
Well, these are not the only movies made in Shakespeare-inspired cinema. Ever since the last century, the big screen has seen Bard’s plays in many forms and ways. However, these are the modern-day adaptations that resonate more with us.
Over four centuries ago, a literary genius was born, a man who never died and most certainly, never will.
Note: On the occasion of William Shakespeare's birth anniverssary, this story has been replugged.