For all of those who have grown up reading English Literature in school, the subject was synonymous with William Shakespeare. Years since, the bard’s plotlines seem perfect for Bollywood and the industry surely exploited it. Come to think of it; Shakespeare ain’t rising from the grave to object at his Romeo dancing on ‘Hua Chhokra Jawaan Re’.
So, from Romeo & Juliet’s tragic love story to The Comedy of Errors, here’s a look at all the times when Shakespeare’s creations were the inspiration behind Bollywood movies.
Starting off with the best of the lot, we must say that Vishal Bhardwaj is one guy who knows his literature well. His adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello came alive with Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma and more in the lead. The movie was a critical and commercial hit and swept many awards, including the coveted National Award.
When we said Bhardwaj knows his literature well, we meant it. He picked up one of the darkest Shakespeare creations, Hamlet, and threw it into the unrest of Kashmir to create Haider with Shahid Kapoor holding the reigns of the main character and Tabu stepping in as his mother. The result was immense praise and a good moolah.
Another of Bhardwaj’s creations, this one is an adaptation of Macbeth. Starring Tabu, Irrfan Khan and Pankaj Kapur, this one was a box office failure. But one cannot ignore the fact that the powerhouse of actors and the amazing twist to the story surely made this one a cult watch.
Moving over from the serious stuff, here’s one that explored the lighter side of Shakespeare. Angoor, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma was a brilliant take on The Comedy of Errors. The plot of Shakespeare’s comedy fit right into Bollywood’s best plotline of the decade; twins separated at birth.
But no play of the great storyteller has been exploited as much as Romeo & Juliet. Bollywood’s favourite Shakespearan play is also the most cliché one. Two lovers belonging to enemy clans, eloping and ultimately dying in each other’s arms; no wonder Romeo & Juliet is every B-town filmmaker’s wet dream come true. After all, tragic lovers’ sell more than the ones who are alive for they may think of divorcing each other after a time. Let’s take a look at the movies inspired by Shakespeare’s most tragic and most retold play ever.
Ek Duuje Ke Liye
Starring Rati Agnihotri and Kamal Haasan, here Romeo turned into a Tamil lad who falls in love with his North Indian neighbor, and all hell breaks loose. Though the two rebel, they ultimately die; not because the bard’s story demanded so, but because audience will spill money along with their tears.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
The movie that marked the debut of Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak too showed two lovers belonging to families that shared a tragedy and hated each other. Obviously, the lovers weren’t welcomed with roses. The movie was a critical and commercial success.
Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela
Though the movie was a success and a good one, we have our doubts whether Shakespeare would have liked his Romeo & Juliet to be so horny all the time. Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone held the reigns of the main characters, and laughed their way at the box office, sweeping many awards on the way.
This one marked the debut of Arjun Kapoor and was the second movie of Parineeti Chopra. A good measure of politics thrown in with religious differences forming the focal point, this was quite an impressive and taut take on the play. Although again, the cliché ending.
Nearly three decades later, we are again to be treated with a take on Romeo & Juliet. One wonders why Bollywood filmmakers can’t move away from the plot and venture into something better. Dhadak marks the debut of Ishaan Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor and is a remake of Marathi movie Sairat which was based on the play.We hope that Bollywood gets over with its fixation with Romeo & Juliet and other Shakespearean creations and work towards more original ideas. Coz that’s the way we’d like it.