Shakespeare in Bollywood

Shakespeare in Bollywood

It is a little too late in life that an ardent reader like me discovered the magic of Shakespeare.  And now that I am reading about him,  I am so excited that I want to read them all, to understand them all.  Thankfully,  the internet and Youtube is loaded with Shakespeare.  It is a fascinating world.  His dialogues are amazing and relevant even today.  Many of the idioms and phrases and even words we use can be attributed to the great Bard.  And another fallout is,  I see glimpses of these classics is some of the most mundane movies.  Shakespeare is very much dominant and kicking it in Bollywood.

  1. Karz / Om Shanti Om – Inspired from Hamlet.  The base story of Simi Garewal killing her husband to get to his inheritance is the first clue.  Nobody knows about it.  No one believes Rishi Kapoor when he says Simi Garewal killed him.  Rishi Kapoor’s reincarnation is only slightly more inspired by Hamlet’s father’s ghost who tells him that his mother in connivance with his brother has killed him.  Then there is the play where Rishi re-enacts how he died and then they focus on Simi’s face to see if she is guilt-ridden.  It is all Hamlet there.  For Malayalam movie fans,  revisit ‘No.20 Madras Mail’.  Strip off the antics of a drunken Mohanlal and Mammooty-emulating Mohanlal to discover Soman’s guilt.  The core of the murder theory is the same.
  2. Angoor – This great comedy starring Sanjeev Kapoor and Deven Verma in double role is a direct adaptation of ‘The Comedy of Errors’.  In fact, they even declare it at the beginning of the movie.  But the movie has been Indianised turning it into an evergreen classic.
  3. Baghbaan / Swarg – King Lear abdicates his kingdom and distributes it among all his children except one who is a little less favoured for being honest.  The King realises his error of judgement when he is shunted between the children whom he had endowed with his riches.  He is finally rescued by the less favoured child and a knight whom King Lear had dismissed earlier.  See the similarities with Baghbaan.  Amitabh and Hema Malini are shunted between the children but finally is happy with Salman Khan who is an orphan helped by Amitabh.  Similarly, in Swarg,  Govinda is the knight who helps Rajesh Khanna and his less favoured child is Juhi Chawla here.  Of course, both movies have a lot of Bollywood masala added to Indianise it.
  4. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak(QSQT) – The classic tale of lovers belonging to two feuding families has been done and redone many times in Bollywood.  However, QSQT is one of the best adaptations.  But, I just hate the ending when the lovers die.  The movie is through and through Romeo and Juliet with a bit of honour killing thrown in to Indianise it.  Think of Ek Duje Ke Liye which is feuding families over something as trivial as languages.  Also all Hindi movies where the families are against their children marrying.  This must cover almost 70% of Bollywood movies.

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