400 years later, Shakespeare still remains relevant in Indian cinema

Here are some of the movies which adapted Shakespeare’s writing.

April 23, 2018 07:10 pm | Updated 07:12 pm IST



It's the Bard’s death anniversary. The world of storytelling would have been a different place if not for the many tales he wove. William Shakespeare’s works still find their place in modern retellings, and Indian cinema has reaped the riches of these plays. Here are some of the movies which adapted Shakespeare’s writing.

Hamlet - Haider

If Lion King was Disney's answer to this Shakespearean epic, Vishal Bhardwaj gave us the Indian version with Haider in 2014. The movie, starring Shahid Kapoor, Tabu and Kay Kay Menon, was unafraid to show its politics, especially given that it dealt with an issue as complex and sensitive as Kashmir. And true to its original source, the movie also had Kapoor recite soliloquies.

The Comedy of Errors - Bhranti Bilas

Bhranti Bilas was a 1963 Bengali film based on a play of the same name written by social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Vidyasagar's play was based on Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors , and Bhranti Bilas was later remade into two Bollywood films written by Gulzar — 1968’s Do Dooni Char and 1982’s Angoor .

The Taming of the Shrew - Arivaali

While Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger had their own version of The Taming of the Shrew in 10 Things I Hate About You , multiple Tamil movies, including Arivaali in 1963 and Pattikada Pattanama in 1972, have dedicated a portion of their stories to how the headstrong woman is ‘tamed’ by the male protagonist to make her more acceptable as his wife.

King Lear - Gunasundari Katha

Loosely based on King Lear , Gunasundari Katha was a 1949 Telugu film which told the story of a king who is angry that his third daughter does not claim to love him as he expects her to, but comes around to the truth at the end. The director, Kadiri Venkata Reddy was also behind one of the biggest bilingual fantasies India had until BaahubaliPathala Bhairavi .

Macbeth - Marmayogi/Maqbool

While the 1951 M.G. Ramachandran-starrer Marmayogi was a mish-mash of Marie Corelli’s Vengeance and Shakespeare’s Macbeth , Vishal Bhardwaj’s first film in his Shakespearean trilogy was as blatant as they come. The most notable performances in the 2003 film were those of Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri as the witches, or in this case corrupt policemen, who predict that Maqbool will take over a crime syndicate.

Othello - Kaliyattam/Omkara

Kaliyattam bagged actor Suresh Gopi and director Jayaraaj National Awards. An Othello adaptation, this 1992 movie also starred Lal as the Iago equivalent and Manju Warrier as a version of Desdemona. Bhardwaj’s Omkara , which was his second Shakespearean adaptation, was released in 2006 and also won three National Awards.

Romeo and Juliet - Goliyon ki Rasleela Ram-Leela

Star-crossed lovers are not new to Indian cinema. While every Indian language has a movie depicting such scenarios, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 2013 tragedy, starring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, is the only declared adaptation of Bill’s play.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.