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Names: Panja, Shormishtha, author. | Saraf, Babli Moitra, author.
Title: Performing Shakespeare in India : exploring indianness, literatures and
Description: New Delhi, India ; Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Publications
Iefoti�fst: LCCN 2016013840| ISBN 9789351509745 (ibsecbdl : bml. pbpfs) |
Subjects: LCSH: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616—Stage history—India. |
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616—Appreciation—India. | English drama—
Appreciation—India. | Theater—India—History.
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the essays from the contributors for this book and for her expertise in their
An international conference, “Revisiting Shakespeare in Indian
Litfsbtusft boe Cumtusft,” ifme io Mbsdi 2013, xiti Psiodipbm, Es Bbcmi
Moitra Saraf, and Professor Shormishtha Panja, the then President,
pshboizfe cy Ioesbpsbttib Cpmmfhf gps Wpnfo (I.P. Cpmmfhf) boe tif
thanks are owed to the Governing Body of I.P. College, University
pg Efmii, gps pspvieioh tif fotisf �obodibm tupppst boe tif fytfotivf
We thank Dr Poonam Trivedi, the I.P. College academic co-ordinator
of the conference supported by the Department of English of the College
and Professor Rajiva Verma, Ms Nivedita Basu, Ms Davinder Mohini
Ahuja, Dr Vandana Agrawal and Dr Vikram Chopra of the Shakespeare
We especially thank Dr Manasvini Yogi from the Department of
Philosophy of I.P. College and her team of student and teacher volunteers
for organizing the formidable logistical support for the three-day
iotfsobtipobm dpogfsfodf. Wf bmtp tibol tif Psiodipbm’t Pg�df pg tif
college which liaisoned with all external agencies, and the support staff
We acknowledge Bangiya Sahitya Parisad, Kolkata, for visuals of
We acknowledge Tara Arts and the photographer Tallulah Shepherd
for visuals of the Tara Arts’ productions of
The Merchant of Venice
and
This book is envisaged as an important intervention in the ongoing
explorations in social and cultural history, into the questions of what
constitutes Indianness and the meaning of being Indian, for the colonial
and the postcolonial subject. This collection of essays is in the nature
of a socio-historical and socio-cultural engagement with the agenda of
identity formation in India across the cultural artefacts of productions
and expositions around Shakespeare. Even as the conscious project of
dismantling colonization and its intellectual apparatus in various forms was
scholars and dramaturges were engaged in deconstructing the ultimate
icon of colonial presence: Shakespeare. This project was both the text and
the subtext of cultural enterprise like translation and stage performance
and later, cinema. The essays in this collection, here revised and
elaborated upon, were originally papers presented by scholars, theatre
persons and translators in an international conference on Shakespeare
in India held in March 2013, jointly organized by Indraprastha College
The combined narrative of the essays in this collection is connected by
the common thread of extraordinary negotiations of postcolonial identity
issues, be they in language, in social and cultural practices or in art forms.
Further, these developments intertwined literary and cultural giants from
various regions in India whose interventions in the cultural history of the
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of Shakespeare’s death, this collection would be in the nature of both a
Siblftpfbsf it inpmidbtfe io tif cihhftt boe nptt tihoi�dbot dpmpoibm
construct in India—the English language—with all its cultural baggage.
The language issue is an inevitable refrain in all considerations of
Shakespeare in India, mainly through the two modes of the literary
translation and the innovations and adaptations in performance. The
question of language is both unavoidable and inescapable in a region
where vast numbers of theatre and cinema audience were, and still
are, illiterate and/or unschooled in the English language. The agenda
of a people’s education is almost always a hegemonic exercise and, in
a linguistically diverse context like India, the instrumentalization of
Shakespeare for education is fascinating because it yields results that are
Why Shakespeare? Shakespeare for whom? Who knows Shakespeare?
What is the use of Shakespeare? How is Shakespeare deployed? Each of
these questions (and many more around Shakespeare) is an enterprise
unto itself, embedded in the long history of colonial rule, the struggle
against it and the negotiation of postcolonial identities, which in the case of
India also imply the emergence of regional identities around questions of
language and linguistic empowerment. To complicate matters, the regional
identities and languages are very often internal contestations of political
and social power in the struggle for supremacy. Why is it that many
does this say about the reaction and resistance to colonial rule in different
parts of India? Does the knowledge of Shakespeare add to the Bengali
’s (gentleman) aura of civility or diminish it? Translation has
always been a site for transactions of culture, both of the foreign and the
domestic. The history of translation of Shakespeare’s works alone would
both Shakespeare and the English language, and, on the other hand, into
the ways in which local and regional languages were affected by the source
text. Malayalam literary history notes how translating the blank verse of
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iittpsibot bt pof pg tif �vf tpusdft tibt io�ufodfe tif mitfsbsy tsbkfdtpsy
of Malayalam literature. In that movement, the realism of Shakespeare’s
conception of the human condition and the richness of his characterization
and language are all matched by the resistance evident over more than
a century in this country’s reception of Shakespeare. India received
Shakespeare and “did things to it,” in much the same way as it did to all else
that it received from foreign shores in its extended history. Its intellectuals
harnessed Shakespeare’s verse and the issues explored in his works to
indigenous cultural enterprises. We may refer to this phenomenon as the
impact of Shakespeare or the appropriation of Shakespeare depending on
where one wants to locate the agency, except that the two are not mutually
exclusive. Thus, when Shakespeare is “exported” from India and received
by a mixed audience which also contains the Indian diaspora, the energy
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There are many schools of thought on the presence of Shakespeare
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bg�oity. Tif ptifs it tibt tifsf it optiioh tinfmftt ps uoivfstbm bcput
Shakespeare. His works are not those to which Indians automatically
relate. There is nothing natural or spontaneous about Indians’ love of
Shakespeare. Shakespeare is, in fact, a sign of neocolonial hegemony,
cannot be separated from its historical moorings. It cannot be disassociated
from the social and political upheavals of the post-colonial world.
argue that Shakespeare enters India as a colonial tool and ends up as a
Intersecting this larger debate and often moving in tandem with it
is the exploration, experimentation and exposition of cultural forms by
individuals and groups for whom the exposure to European modes of
cultural production is both exciting and challenging. The creative interface
of energy in various directions. Technological advances and newer
art forms such as cinema have only enriched the experience. Vishal
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demonstrates the latest innovation in this trajectory in its deployment of
the famous tragic hero, to focus on what is “rotten” in the state of Jammu
boe Kbtinis. Bibsexbk’t ptifs �mnt pspkfdt eiggfsfot tsbkfdtpsift, tudi bt
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Omkara
(based on
Othello
) that is located in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh
with its murky politics and violent social tensions and
) that unfolds in the scenario of the Mumbai underworld and
itt hboh xbst. Amm tiftf �mnt sftpobtf xiti tif gbnimibs io Siblftpfbsf
and are indigenous and domestic in their focus. Though Hindi cinema
and Bollywood have had a very long history of Shakespearean moorings,
Vitibm Bibsexbk bdlopxmfehft Siblftpfbsf’t io�ufodf io tif ppfoioh
. This is an important cultural event as it displays a comfort
level with both the original and the recreation/adaptation, which marks
(Chameleon Lover)
performed by Atul Kumar’s Company Theatre, based on
Twelfth Night
have reinvented both the text and its exposition.
Piya Behrupiya
fact, an excellent example of intercultural theatre—it proves that the less
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literary text being superior to the performance and the original against
which the performance must be measured. The cheeky asides that the
actor playing Sebastian addresses to the audience where he protests that
the hierarchies of colonial master text and postcolonial performance.
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�fmet pg diofnb boe tifbtsf it b sfnbslbcmf tiigt bxby gspn tif tbdsfe
dpx pg tif Siblftpfbsfbo tfyt, bt tihoi�dbot bt tif efvfmppnfott io tif
use of the English language in the former colonies or among the formerly
A crucial thing to be kept in mind while discussing Shakespeare in India
is that Shakespeare comes to India through a different route from the one
it takes to China, Japan or Korea. Indians read Shakespeare in English and
not just in translation. His texts are part of the curriculum of schools and
universities. As a result of the victory of the Anglicists over those who
thought Indian universities should teach the classics, as was the case in
England, the colonial Indian curriculum was mainly humanities-based and
included Shakespeare. Thus, English literature, including Shakespeare,
was taught in India before it was introduced in the English universities. In
the latter, the curriculum consisted of Greek and Latin classics. It comes
as no surprise, then, that Sukanta Chaudhuri claims that “[o]utside the
Western world, India has the longest and most intense engagement with
Shakespeare of any country anywhere.”
As Gauri Vishwanathan argues in
Literary Study and British Rule in India
, Shakespeare
and Milton were seen as appropriate secular channels by the English
colonial administrators of English values and beliefs to be imparted to
the colonial subjects. Shakespeare, as Jyotsna Singh suggests, has thus
been used as an educational tool by colonial rulers often as a means of
Shakespeare is not an “accommodating ideal” as Jyotsna Singh puts it,
erasing or eliding all traces of cultural difference. Indigenous theatrical
performance could challenge, consciously or unconsciously and through
adaptation, the status of Shakespeare as a marker of universal cultural
value on the Indian stage. In this land of diverse regional languages
and cultures, it is vital to note that translations and adaptations of
Shakespeare appear in all corners of the country, demonstrating the ease
him within prevalent traditions of the theatrical spectacle. The production
forces of race, language,” according to Singh,
regional cultures with very strong traditions of indigenous folk and classic
theatre. Shakespeare is neither a “transcendentally benevolent or non-
political” influence,
nor is he an influence to be treated with reverence
and whose works are left pristine. Some of the major regional Shakespeare
The plays were
translated and staged all over the country, be it in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu
or Marathi, in the north-eastern language Assamese or in the south Indian
languages Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil. Be it the dubbing of
Shakespeare as “Sulapani” in Telugu
so-called “Indian Shakespeare” Agha Hashr’s melodramatic poetic-prose
Shakespeare was both omnipresent and
Shakespeare was particularly big in Calcutta (modern Kolkata), the
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Euttb (1876–1916). Wiimf Gipti psfgfssfe sfnbioioh tsuf tp tif psihiobm
and lost the audience’s interest quite speedily, Amarendranath chose
, proved
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quite popular while Ghosh’s expensive
(1893), “staged in the
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pg Bpitiopc Cipspo Aeey bt tif �stt Ioeibo Ptifmmp io tif Sbot Spudi
The Calcutta Star
racist phrase “unpainted nigger Othello” for Addy besides distorting his
name almost beyond recognition to Baboo Bustomchurn Addy. Besides
there were twenty-three productions of Shakespeare in Bengali,
Aoptifs nbkps bsfb pg Siblftpfbsf’t io�ufodf xbt io Pbsti tifbtsf.
There, Shakespeare’s place was paramount. Around a dozen Shakespeare
plays were adapted and staged, using Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati and even
playwrights were both Hindu and Muslim, a noteworthy fact that points to a
period of communal and religious harmony and interaction, not always the
case in present-day India. This has remained the case in one contemporary
cultural formation, however, and that is cinema. It should be no surprise
that Parsi theatre is an important precursor of Hindi commercial cinema.
The Parsi plays were free and popular adaptations, with new characters,
entertainment preferences, including the penchant for music and dance.
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of its repertoire. It toured throughout the Far East—Mandalay, Rangoon,
Bangkok, Java—and then London. Among the twenty dramatic clubs
in Bombay in the 1860s, there was one called the Shakespeare Natak
on the Indian stage. A possible cause for this could be that the national
movement against the British colonial rulers was gaining momentum.
Gandhi’s Quit India movement, for example, was fully operational by
1942. Performing the works of an iconic English playwright on the Indian
ttbhf xiimf �hitioh gps ioefpfoefodf bhbiott tif Bsititi dpume opt ibvf
India became independent in 1947. Post-independence, Shakespeare
performance falls into two major categories: productions in English and
The latter may
be further subdivided into performances that follow Shakespeare’s text
faithfully with literary translations, as in Ebrahim Alkazi’s production of
(1969) in Urdu, and productions
that adapt the Shakespearean text radically. Since the focus in this volume
is on the creation of Indianness, it is important to state that Indianness
any specific language, region, religion or class. Shakespeare is adapted
into as varied folk forms as Kathakali (from Kerala), Nautanki
(from
Uttar Pradesh with emphasis on music), Yakshagana (from Karnataka)
(from Bengal with emphasis on dialogue). There may also be a
combination of one or more of these forms within a single performance.
transform the source text to such an extent that it may appear unfamiliar
even to those Indians in the audience who know their Shakespeare but not
the folk form in which it is enacted. And, of course, the addition of music,
dance, colourful costumes and the ritualized folk performance makeup
can make the source play unrecognizable to a non-Indian audience. Some
brilliant examples of Shakespeare adaptations in indigenous forms are
Othello
onwards) and
King Lear
in Kathakali (1989) and
Kamdeo ka Apna Basant
(The Love God’s Own, a Spring Reverie, 1993) based on
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
It should be mentioned, however, that these productions were not
without their controversies. The Kathakali
King Lear
, for example,
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Uninitiated Western audiences or critics were left mystified while
Malayalam-language critics felt that the Kathakali codes had been violated
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Leday), since traditionally Kathakali was an all-male performance. They
also protested that the removal of Lear’s customary headdress in the
storm scene denuded him of the grandeur associated with a protagonist.
performance is the condition of its existence.
Kathakali adaptation of any Shakespeare play to remain entirely true to
both English source text and Indian folk form. Loss and gain work hand
in hand. Hybridity rather than purity is the objective of any successful
Kamdeo ka Apna Basant Ritu ka Sapna
is an adaptation of
A Midsummer
eisfdtfe cy Ibcic Tbovis (1923–2009) xip xbt tsbiofe bt
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the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Old Vic and was the founder
of the Naya Theatre. This successful adaptation actually originated in a
catastrophe. Tanvir was supposed to collaborate with an English theatre
company which was supposed to supply the Athenian characters. However,
that company folded. Tanvir bravely went ahead with his abbreviated
performance, dealing almost exclusively with the “rude mechanicals,”
apart from an opening and closing scene with the courtly characters.
The play proved to be a hit. For Bottom and his band, Tanvir enlisted
tribal performers speaking in the Bastar dialect. Tanvir was a pioneer
in the combination of folk theatre and politics. The language used
in the play is a hybrid of Hindi and the Bastar dialect of the tribals.
dpo�efodf io tif tsicbm pfsgpsnfst’ iottiodtivf iittsipoid �bis. Tbovis it
not interested in producing authentic folk theatre. Like the pastoral poets
of the classical tradition, Theocritus and Virgil, Tanvir is a thoughtful
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Brecht and one who takes a conscious ideological stance. He chooses
folk improvisational techniques and music, and combines them with his
own socialist and comic look at the Indian socio-political situation. In
the commitment to a certain ideology, a sense of faith in tribal
Io Bfohbm, Utpbm Eutt’t (1929–93) Cbmduttb.cbtfe Littmf Tifbtsf Gspup
produced a variety of Shakespeare’s plays, including
The Merchant of
Julius Caesar
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
in
Bengali, 1964).
However, in the light of the violence that had gripped
the politics of Bengal in the 1960s and 1970s, to “stick to Shakespeare
or Bernard Shaw was unbearable,” writes Dutt. When he returned to
style for Bengal’s villagers. Jatra is an exaggerated folk form with an
emphasis on declamatory dialogue and dramatic gestures. It is performed
all night, out in the open. The Jatra style is very different from Dutt’s
earlier restrained proscenium productions. This
Kendal, but one that took into account class, education and cultural
It rouses the audience from “unthinking stupor by sensation,
some
the groundlings than the serious proscenium productions on the Calcutta
Manipur has been the site of a number of hugely innovative
adaptations which have effectively combined Meiteilon language,
attire, music, dance and spectacle with Shakespeare’s characters and
plotlines. Lokendra Arambam’s
Chingkhei Napa
(1997), Ratan Kumar Singh’s
Julius Caesar
(2003), Ratan Thiyam’s Chorus
Repertory Theatre, Imphal’s
(2014) and Ranbir Mangang’s 2015
adaptation of the same play present powerful visual appropriations
at the
inauguration of the National School of Drama’s annual international
theatre festival, Bharat Rang Mahotsav, in Delhi in February 2016. The
audience was held spellbound by a performance, the words of which
were incomprehensible to almost all in the audience as the language used
xbt Mfitfimpo. Tiiybn nbef Lbey Mbdcfti b tpxfsioh �husf io xiptf
tribal costumes, mostly black and red, headgear and beads made the
play a visual spectacle even though there were very few props and no
backdrop. In addition, the use of Manipuri music and song, particularly
the use of drums and a keening, wailing lament, created the haunting
tihoi�dbot tibt io tiftf pspeudtipot Siblftpfbsf mivft po io tif ttsfohti
of a strong, indigenous Manipuri theatre tradition that includes both
tribal and imaginative elements created by the respective directors. The
introduction of Shakespeare produces a hybrid performance that appeals
both to those who are familiar with the original Shakespeare text and to
Othello: A Study in Black and White
(1999–2000) it
a sensitive and insightful production of the United Players’ Guild that
in a contemporary English play about a group of Indian
actors rehearsing Shakespeare’s play and foregrounds tensions, other
the Westernized versus
desi
(indigenous) tussle. Shakespeare becomes the
site on which the tensions of the non-homogeneous contemporary Indian
the last the language of Adil Hussain, the actor who plays Othello. One
of the most effective scenes is when Adil breaks into Assamese while
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rehearsing a scene with Lushin Dubey (Desdemona), thereby merging
Othello’s otherness in Venice with the otherness of regional Assamese
by Atul Kumar and The Company Theatre, which
was performed at the London Globe in April 2012 and then all across
India to full houses, brings Shakespeare performance in India to a new
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),
Sebastian, who is also the translator of the play, complains that the
Shakespeare”). He also
shares with the audience the usual actor’s woes of being sidelined. This
cheeky, thumb-your-nose-at-a-classic production aptly illustrates W.B.
Worthen’s idea of performance as iteration, rather than a reconstitution
. One may not agree
with his statement that Shakespeare “is always a super hit” in India
“because Shakespeare’s tales and human conditions are quite timeless,
space-less and cultureless—they are simply human” (Vincent 2012)
bardolatry. His attitude to Shakespeare is the opposite of reverential: in
his own words, “[T]he comedy works very well when you disrespect
As mentioned earlier,
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hierarchies of literary text and performance, of English source text and
of Indian adaptation. As Worthen observes, the hallmark of a successful
intercultural production is the extent of its departure from the source
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Shakespeare’s influence on the genre of cinema had directly descended
from the Parsi theatre of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries
Dil Farosh
(one who sells his
which is
probably the earliest example of Shakespeare in Indian cinema, to Sohrab
and
(1948) starring Nargis who was favourably compared
(1954) down to the
which turns the racial conflict into a caste-based conflict and situates
the story among a group of Kathakali performers, Shakespeare has had
Bhranti Bilash
(1963) directed by Manu Sen, starring the screen legend Uttam Kumar
and based on Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s excellent translation, was
It was a box office hit
and is viewed with pleasure even today. Gulzar’s Hindi
Angoor
(Grapes,
1982) based on the same play, was also a hit. In recent times, the many
(Made for
each other, 1981), directed by K. Balachander and addressing the love
Qayamat se
Qayamat Tak
(From catastrophe to calamity, 1988) directed by Mansoor
Khan and based on two warring and arch-conservative Thakur families
(Children of love, 2012) directed by Habib
Faisal about the children of two warring political families, the Hindu
Chauhans and the Muslim Qureshis, have all been box office successes,
usually starring fresh new actors. The landmark contribution of Vishal
Bhardwaj’s trilogy,
Maqbool
Omkara
(2006) and
Haider
(2014),
an Introduction and thirteen essays written by national and international
scholars, working in India and elsewhere, and subdivided into the
following categories: Shakespeare and Indian visual culture; contemporary
Shakespeare performance onstage in India and the diaspora; Shakespeare
and Indian films; translation and issues of language and politics in regional
Shakespeares; identity and the politics of language; and the cultural capital
of Shakespeare as assessed by various Indian cultural icons. The emphasis
is on Shakespeare as one of the catalysts for the entrance of the Indian
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nation into modernity. The critical approaches in the essays are manifold.
They include socio-historical analysis, political commentary, translation
studies, literary criticism, visual culture studies, and performance and film
studies. Unlike other volumes on Shakespeare and India,
on visual art, the diasporic experience of Shakespeare, the implications
of playing Shakespeare in the public sphere of theatre and the interface of
Shakespeare and other icons of Indian literatures and cultures, including
critics and commentators who shaped critical studies and sensibilities in
Shormishtha Panja’s essay, “‘To Confine the Illimitable’: Visual and
in the sense that it discusses illustrations of Shakespeare’s plays. It
demonstrates how in the early years of the nineteenth century Charles Lamb
complained that the artists, Henry Fuseli and Joshua Reynolds among them,
who had painted characters and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays for The
Boydell Shakespeare Gallery (1789), which was to result in “A Most
Magnificent and Accurate” illustrated edition of Shakespeare’s plays
(1802), “confine[d] the illimitable.” The essay examines how, contrary
to Lamb’s opinion, paintings and illustrations of Shakespeare’s works
were created and the reception and readership of his works. Panja
century, both books predating the year of Indian independence. The role
of Shakespeare in not merely the colonial enterprise but also in reform
movements spearheaded by Bengalis, Shakespeare and the rise of the
new woman in Bengal, the transition from stage to page, the influence
and the vexing
question of the universal versus local identity of Shakespeare are some
of the issues that are explored in the course of the discussion. Panja
argues that the illustrations in these works often have a narrative of
their own which is independent of the verbal text, a narrative that adds
another dimension to the debate about the perceived timelessness and
omnipresence of Shakespeare.
Paromita Chakravarti in “Urban Histories and Vernacular Shakespeares in
” examines how some
Indian adaptations of Shakespearean drama have helped to forge, among
other things, a particular sense of the “urban”—a heightened consciousness
of the history, politics and feel of specific Indian cities and cityscapes.
primarily, have
been deployed to evoke urban angst, the layered histories of particular
Indian cities and their changing maps of violence, crime and politics.
In films like
, based on Shakespeare’s
Mumbai emerges as a central protagonist. Rituparno Ghosh, director of
his film was meant to evoke the empire and its erstwhile capital, as well as
the history of Kolkata’s English-language theatre and love of Shakespeare.
However, within the Bengali theatre tradition, Shakespeare’s
has been used to forge a very different history of Kolkata and its
politics, argues Chakravarti. In Asit Basu’s
bhbiott tif Nbybm npvfnfot pg tif 1970t, tif �husf pg Ibnmft ttboet
as an icon of youthful rebellion against unjust regimes, inspiring the
represents a tradition of progressive theatre associated with Kolkata.
(2007) articulates a
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Kolkatar Hamlet
Hemlat
portrays the failure of the revolution and of Left
is no prince—he is a lumpenized, lower middle-class
protagonist with an intimate connection to the city and its subaltern lives.
The play takes an unforgiving look at a Kolkata in decline, brokering away
itt ttbtfmy cuimeioht tp b dsiniobm mboe nb�b xiidi it iboe io hmpvf xiti
the government, constructing malls and apartments to bring a new city
into existence on the ruins and corpses of its past. Bibhash Chakraborty
representing the new spaces which are emerging in a changing city. In
celebrate the opening of the pub is dedicated to a man who was killed in
dialogue with
and the context of city youths dying in
police encounters. Chakravarti’s essay uses these three plays to examine
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how Shakespeare’s
Hamlet
provides the context of mapping the changing
contours of the city and what it means for prison-like Denmark to become
tif Kpmlbtb pg tif 1970t ps pg tif �stt efdbef pg tif txfoty.�stt dfotusy,
two points of extreme political crisis in West Bengal. Further, the essay
explores possibilities of intertextual readings of the cityscape through
Claire Cochrane in “Shakespeare and the Re/vision of Indian Heritage
in the Postcolonial British Context” discusses British Asian theatre-makers
operating outside the theatrical mainstream and their refashioning of
Shakespeare, with particular reference to the company Tara Arts. What
Cochrane explores in this essay is the way in which that complexity of
heritage has been brought to bear on the re-visioning of Shakespeare by
British Asian theatre-makers operating outside the theatrical mainstream.
In general, because of the social, economic and institutional challenges
facing British Asian theatre artists, the number of independent professional
companies is comparatively small and, for the most part, their work has
focused on creating drama which interrogates thorny questions of identity
formation and contemporary cultural practices within the “new” British
Asian communities. Nevertheless, for artists born and/or educated in
the UK, the Western classical canon, including Shakespeare, is as much
part of their heritage as the classical Indian narratives and performance
traditions which so powerfully evoke collective memories of the lost
means of addressing the ontological ruptures and dislocations associated
Thea Buckley in “Indian Shakespeare in the World Shakespeare
Shakespearean productions as adapted into Indian
contexts and performed at
the World Shakespeare Festival (WSF), part
pg tif 2012
Cumtusbm Pmynpidt io tif UK.
Sif hivft
b �stt.pfstpo
as a non-Indian of the transformations and absorption into an Indian
context of
Much Ado About Nothing
Twelfth Night
and
All’s Well That
Tif �stt pg tiftf pspeudtipot xbt
pfsgpsnfe cy bo Ioep.
Mumbai’s Company and Arpana Theatres, respectively. In comparing
and contrasting the approaches taken to these adaptations, drawing on
evidence including directorial interviews, the essay problematizes the
continuing “global” dialogue between Shakespeare’s source and the
representation of an intercultural
relationship that involves interaction
and negotiation on multiple levels.
only those layers of space or geographical distance and time or historical
the question of whether these productions—English, Hindi and Gujarati—
fuse not only languages and literatures but also cultures,
Trisha Mitra in “The Othello-figure in Three Indian Films:
Omkara and Saptapadi
” explores the appropriation of the figure of
Othello in these films located in different sociological contexts. Mitra
examines the characteristics of the original text which have been adopted
by directors/scriptwriters and the variations which have been introduced
The primary themes and motifs providing intertextual frames (racism,
transgressive romance and sexual jealousy) have been borrowed, only
tp cf eitmpdbtfe boe fnpmpyfe io tif pmptt pg tiftf �mnt. Tif �husf
Mitra’s essay looks at the development of the reformulations of
Othello’s “otherness” in order to understand their relocation and inter-
racial
Paramita Dutta in “Shakespeareana to
Shakespeare Wallah
ps Epioh Siblftpfbsf io Ioeib” fybnioft tif �mn
how Shakespeare becomes the true protagonist in the ways in which he
io�fdtt dibsbdtfst boe sfmbtipotiipt, tif bmtp eitduttft tif fdpopnift
Pspeudtipot �mn pg 1965, efpidtt tif fvfott io tif migf pg b Bsititi tifbtsidbm
troupe that was touring and performing Shakespeare in various regions
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io pptt.ioefpfoefodf Ioeib. Itnbim Mfsdibot, tif pspeudfs pg tif �mn,
fypmidbtft tibt tif “Wbmmbi” io tif titmf pg tif �mn nfbot b tsbeftnbo ps
Ivory wishes to stress that it actually implies one who is associated with
pfsvbtivf io�ufodf pg Siblftpfbsf io tif �mn, Euttb dpodmueft tibt
T.S. Satyanath, in “Mapping Shakespearean Translations in Indian
Literatures,” argues for the need to see theatre as a potential platform
for discursive exchanges between a play, its audience, theatre artists,
playwrights and the subsequent discussions. As the discussions and
debates pertaining to the performance continue in print, conversations
and mass media that includes scripto-centric, phono-centric and body-
centric representations, the theatrical public sphere may be considered,
Satyanath states, as one of the most effective public spheres for the
communication and circulation of ideas. Theatre as a public sphere is
actually a modification of the public sphere theory from a focus on the
political accomplishment of a single economic class to a potential situation
Sayantan Roy Moulick and Sandip Debnath in “‘Murmuring your
Praise’: Shakespearean Echoes in Early Bangla Drama” present a
comparative analysis of the texts
(1852) by Jogindro Chandro
Bhanumoti Chittobilash
or resisted the ideological content of British literary education. Any
cultural transaction occupies a “third space,” they argue. Roy Moulick and
Debnath’s essay traces the “absent presence” of Shakespeare in Jogindro
Chandro Gupto’s
Kirttibilash
and closely examines Ghose’s adaptation of
Shakespeare’s
Merchant of Venice
to unravel the said discursive paradigm.
While the preface to Ghose’s play reveals the author’s bardolatry, it also
“to suit the native taste.” On the other hand, the preface to Gupto’s play
reveals not only his reverence for Shakespeare, but also his defence of
Jatindra K. Nayak in “A Future Without Shakespeare” looks at an
Odia translation of fourteen of Charles and Mary Lamb’s twenty tales
literature, seeks to place his decision to translate the tales in the context
of the changing role of English in India after independence and explores
the possibility of Shakespeare being ousted from the English syllabus.
He perceives his translation as more than a mere linguistic effort and
presents it as a way of keeping the readers’ interest alive in Shakespeare,
as and when English will be reduced to a mere tool of communication.
He goes a step further and visualizes a new role for
English teachers in
India who can enrich Indian literatures through their knowledge of English
Thus, his meditations on a future without Shakespeare open new
Preti Taneja in “Does Shakespeare’s Text Even Matter?” considers
familiarity with the plays watch them in languages they do not understand,
languages “other” to Shakespeare’s revered idiom. “Does this in itself
matter?” she asks. By examining how the translations were effected and
presented in the Globe festival of 2012 which featured thirty-seven plays
response, Taneja exposes some of the underlying politics of perception
that still surround cross-cultural approaches to Shakespeare’s text. The
text meets performance, such attitudes, she argues, are challenged. As
fresh linguistic and cultural understandings are forged, the text itself is
both subverted and renewed. Paradoxically, even as its importance seems
Naina Dey in “Utpal Dutt and
Translated” looks at the issues
changes were wrought for the sake of stageworthiness or political ideology.
Dey states that Bengal’s preoccupation with Shakespeare’s plays is nothing
new considering that Indian universities ran Honours and Masters courses
in English literature well before Britain, with Shakespeare as staple fare.
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LI
was staged on 27 September 1975, by People’s
Little Theatre, exactly three months after the Emergency of 26 June
erstwhile Congress regime under Indira Gandhi. Dey’s essay examines all
the stage directions and end notes incorporated by Dutt in his translation
eisfdtipot boe optft tibt ioeidbtf tpfdi�d npvfnfott,
emotions, locations and language for the actors of his group. She poses
questions about the presence of these directions—are they related to Dutt’s
political convictions, to the unstable and repressive political conditions
Radha Chakravarty in “Tagore and Shakespeare: A Fraught Relationship”
complex relationship with Shakespeare, from his early translation of
to his later pronouncements on life and literature, raises larger
of stagecraft (such as the use of backdrops and stage props) to literary
matters such as characterization or the author’s bid for “impersonality”
attitude to Shakespeare charts Tagore’s internal struggle to construct and
Himani Kapoor in “Mapping Shakespeare and Kalidasa: Early Indian
Translations” argues that this comparison became the site for the
intersection of colonial modernity and Indian tradition. Kapoor maps
the processes of negotiating Shakespeare and Kalidasa as modernity
versus tradition as well as examining the hybridization attempts in Indian
literary and critical representations of Shakespeare through a study of the
nineteenth- and early twentieth-century translations and criticisms. Kapoor
Indian modernism opposed traditionality. It is the attempt to negotiate
tiit dpo�idt, tif ppioft, tibt bppfbst tp cf bt tif dfotsf pg tsbotmbtioh
twentieth centuries were crucial eras for both the reception of Shakespeare
as well as Kalidasa for Indian literary scholars and translators. The use of
medieval verse, songs and contemporary prose were common elements
seen in the translations of both. Moreover, the hybridization attempted in
the Shakespearean drama by the Indian translators and drama companies
(diif�y tif Pbsti tifbtsf) it bmtp optfxpstiy. Bfioh itiofsbot pfsgpsnioh
groups, the play-production companies had to cater to the constantly
changing and divergent sensibilities of the audience and, hence, the
Indian audiences consisting mostly of average, everyday folk. This entire
process, Kapoor attests, could be looked at as an attempt at negotiating
As can be seen from the discussion above, this volume is an important
intervention on Shakespeare studies in India, discussing the author’s
habitation in translation and adaptation, and his omnipresence in both
sfhipobm Ioeibo mitfsbtusft boe tif eibtppsb. Tif dp.fyittfodf pg b dpo�efot,
even cheeky adaptation of Shakespeare’s works, be it onstage in
pg tif dpo�idtioh sfmbtipotiip tibt Ioeibo mitfsbsy hsfbtt milf Sbcioesbobti
Tagore have had with the works of Shakespeare. The bishwokobi of the
become indigenized as the Kalidasa of the West and the public sphere
of performance makes this apparent. The reverence and irreverence, in
equal share, that Indian cultural forms have for Shakespeare, live on in
productions in the diaspora and in India’s engagement with Shakespeare
as the English writer is redeployed and reinvented in as many ways as
there exist cultural variations in India. Shakespeare is a site that makes
possible the celebration in India of the local and the regional, the particular
the mainstream, the homogeneous and the readily accessible. From the
murmur of praise we now move to the shout of adaptation. This all but
local language and identity politics and indigenous folk theatre forms in
Thus, in one of the early receptions of Shakespeare in Bengal carried in this volume,
sahib,” not just as in the technical
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LI
2.
See Gauri Vishwanathan,
Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in
Shakespeares: The Bard in Colonial/Postcolonial India,”
See Ania Loomba,
Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama
(1989; repr., Delhi: Oxford UP,
See “Introduction: Shakespeare in India” by Sukanta Chaudhuri in
The Shakespearean
International Yearbook,
vol. 12: Special Section, “Shakespeare in India” eds. Tom
See Shormishtha Panja, “Intercultural Theatre and Shakespeare Productions in India,”
Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre,
ed. Siyuan Lee (London: Routledge, 2016),
Jyotsna Singh, “Different Shakespeares: The Bard in Colonial/Postcolonial India,”
8.
Jyotsna Singh, “Different Shakespeares,” 447.
9.
Jyotsna Singh, “Different Shakespeares,” 450.
Sff Pbokb “Iotfsdumtusbm Tifbtsf boe Siblftpfbsf Pspeudtipot io Ioeib,” 504–09 gps b
11.
7, op. 1 (1964): 127–31.
Mohammad Hasan, “Shakespeare in Urdu,”
7, op. 1(1964): 132–39.
See Shormishtha Panja, “Shakespeare on the Indian Stage: Resistance, Recalcitrance,
eds. Robert Henke
See Chandravan C. Mehta, “Shakespeare and the Gujarati Stage,”
7, op. 1 (1964): 41–50 boe Pbokb, “Iotfsdumtusbm Tifbtsf boe Siblftpfbsf Pspeudtipot
17.
Sff Pbokb, “Siblftpfbsf po tif Ioeibo Stbhf,” 215–24 boe Pbokb, “Iotfsdumtusbm Tifbtsf
John W.P. Phillips, “Shakespeare and the Question of Intercultural Performance,” in
20.
See Shormishtha Panja, “Lebedeff, Kendal, Dutt: Three Travellers on the Indian
Esid Nidipmtpo (Fbsoibn, Sussfy boe Busmiohtpo, Vfsnpot: Atihbtf, 2014), 245–61
See Jyotsna Singh, “Different Shakespeares,” 455.
See Nandini and Pradipta Bhattacharya, “A Weapon of Change: Interview with Utpal
See Rustom Bharucha,
Rehearsals for Revolution: The Political Theatre of Bengal
24.
See Shormishtha Panja, “Not Black and White but Shades of Grey: Shakespeare
in India,” in
Shakespeare Without English: The Reception of Shakespeare in Non-
(New Delhi:
Pfbstpo Lpohnbo, 2006), 102–16, gps b eftbimfe eitduttipo pg tiit pbstidumbs bebptbtipo.
25.
Nidhi Gupta, “A Masala-tinged Poem, Sung to Perfection,”
Sunday Guardian
, 2
26.
See W.B. Worthen, “Drama, Performativity and Performance,”
PMLA
113, no. 5
(Pdtpcfs 1998): 1093–1107 boe Piimmipt, “Siblftpfbsf boe tif Qufttipo pg Iotfsdumtusbm
Pfsgpsnbodf,” 234–52. Sff bmtp Pbokb, “Iotfsdumtusbm Tifbtsf boe Siblftpfbsf
27.
India’s Shakespeare: Translation,
India and the Department of English, University of Delhi, in 1998; Sukanta Chaudhuri
and Chee Sen Lim, eds.,
Shakespeare Without English: The Reception of Shakespeare in
The Shakespearean
International Yearbook
vol. 12: Special Section, “Shakespeare in India,” eds. Tom
Shakespeare’s plays. I argue that on the one hand the illustrations express
the debates about the new woman and a new notion of romantic love in
Bengal, both of which stem in part from Shakespeare’s influence, and on
the other hand the visual narrative of the illustrations has its own identity
at times independent of the verbal text, a narrative that critiques the notion
Shakespeare in colonial Bengal, both on the page and on the stage,
and how Shakespeare was used as a gentle tool for subjugation and the
I shall not
hp pvfs tif tbnf tfssbio podf bhbio ifsf. Sug�df it tp tby tibt Eohmiti
literature was not just used to create colonial administrators and docile
subjects: certain Bengalis found in it inspiration to launch reform
movements within Bengal addressing matters of religion and education,
literature heavyweights like Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (Chatterjee)
xip xsptf iit �stt opvfm io Eohmiti (
Rajmohan’s Wife
) read Shakespeare
with enthusiasm, but more of that later. Shakespeare’s heroines obviously
made a great impression on the Bengali imagination: in the second
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volume of the 1896 Rakshit translation that I shall examine, many
rather than the actual titles of the plays or their Bengali equivalent.
Taming of
“Miranda.” The education of
—the word means not just “gentleman” but
carries within it connotations of civility, courtesy, respectability and
bourgeois gentility. Partha Chatterjee and Tanika Sarkar have observed
tibt nboy bg�ufot, nieemf.dmbtt Bfohbmi nfo xbotfe tifis xivft tp cf
educated. They were enamoured of the concept of the companionate
marriage, knowledge of which came from the West, in part, no doubt,
from English literature.
One can draw a parallel with the Lambs’ Preface
most of which was apparently written by
Mary Lamb, where they exhort young British boys to read selections of
tif pmbyt bmpue tp tifis tittfst xip eie opt ibvf tif cfof�t pg bddfttioh
For young ladies too, it has been the intention chiefly to write; because boys
being generally permitted the use of their fathers’ libraries at a much earlier
age than girls are, they frequently have the best scenes of Shakespeare by
heart before their sisters are permitted to look into this manly book; and,
therefore, instead of recommending these Tales to the perusal of young
assistance is rather requested in explaining to their sisters such parts as are
over the difficulties, then perhaps they will read to them (carefully selecting
what is proper for a young sister’s ear) some passage which has pleased
them in one of these stories, in the very words of the scene from which it
is taken; and it is hoped they will find that the beautiful extracts, the select
passages, they may choose to give their sisters in this way will be much
The first of the two books that I shall discuss is simply called
Shakespeare
Part 1
(with an introduction, the date missing and a brief
account of the author/translator and an account of Shakespeare’s life)
translated by Haran Chandra Rakshit, published by Sri Bipin Bihari
1.25. The
Part 1 has 242 pages and 21 illustrations. There is no frontispiece and
no captions for the illustrations. Some illustrations are vertical, like the
verbal text, others horizontal, so that one has to turn the book around in
Pericles, Twelfth Night, Timon of Athens, Cymbeline
Merchant of Venice
has one illustration, a line drawing.
has three illustrations, all part of a page, none full page. The illustrations
I shall discuss two of the illustrations for
given in
The second illustration, occupying part of a page, is on page 90 (Figure
form the backdrop. The architecture, with the arch and the design of the
clumsily, as he is leaving, clambering over the balcony. The illustration
the two have just shared—whereas in the earlier illustration it had been tied
in a decorous bun—and she seems to kiss him back just as enthusiastically,
although the illustrator depicts only her back. From this illustration it is
evident that this is not a book meant for young Bengali readers in the
painting of Romeo and Juliet on the balcony with Romeo ardently kissing
Lambs’ Tales from Shakespeare
“At the cell of Friar Lawrence” where the two lovers merely join hands
and gaze at one another, with Friar Lawrence as vigilant chaperone. Note
how the Bengali illustration spills out of the frame. Rackham’s illustrations
always have a border around them, differentiating the spaces of verbal and
vitubm vfsy eittiodtmy. Io Sbltiit’t cppl, ipxfvfs, tif �pxfst io b vbtf po
tif �pps boe tif esbpfsy txfmm put pg tif pidtusf gsbnf po tp tif psiotfe
sprawled on Romeo’s sleeping body (Figure 2.2). She has just killed
ifstfmg. Tifsf it b �husf bt tif cbdl dbssyioh b ttbgg, tif gsibs. Tifsf
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is an erotic abandon in the two bodies plastered on one another, again
of the book. This illustration does not coincide with the verbal text that
tbmlt bcput Spnfp boe Pbsit’t eufm. Tif tihoi�dbodf pg tiit it tibt tif
Spnfp boe Jumift
Siblftpfbsf Psbtibn Bibh p Eitiyb Bibh
Sri Haran
However, where does this passionate young girl come from and how
does the illustrator depict her so adroitly? I should like to argue that the
�husf pg Jumift boe tif efpidtipo pg tif dpupmf it, io gbdt, tif sftumt pg
long debates about the nature of women and of romantic love (
io oioftffoti.dfotusy Bfohbm. Lft ut tblf tif xpnbo rufttipo �stt, cy
looking at two essays by Bankim. In his essay “
Prachina O Nobina
woman of old and the new woman) Bankim writes wittily of the new
woman who has emerged in Bengal as a result of colonial rule.
While the
the old age has been replaced by opportunities for education for women,
children are neglected and their houses unkempt. An even more grave
dsinf it tifis dibohf pg sfmihiput bg�mibtipo. Epft tif psbdiiob’t sfmihipo
pativrata
(the wife’s devoted worship of the husband) still exist? “But
is that still the case,” asks Bankim rhetorically, swiftly disclaiming, “Such
questions cannot be answered easily.”
He says he has nothing against
Spnfp boe Jumift
Siblftpfbsf Psbtibn Bibh p Eitiyb Bibh
Sri Haran
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feudbtipo boe psbitft itt ppxfst pg efnytti�dbtipo: it tigtt tif tsuf gspn
Bankim. It reveals the frailties of religion, but not its strengths. The irony
and humour of this essay does not entirely conceal the underlying tone
of sadness and wistfulness. Bankim feels a real sense of bereavement at
the disappearance of the prachina who so willingly surrendered her own
hopes on the altar of her lord and husband and her children’s well-being.
Wifsf epft Bbolin �oe b tsuf pbtivsbtb? Lft ut tuso tp boptifs fttby
Eftefnpob” (1875). Ifsf, io
Siblftpfbsf, Bbolin �oet iit tsuf pbtivsbtb. If psbitft Eftefnpob’t
�efmity tp ifs iutcboe, uodibohfe tispuhi iotumtt, vipmfodf boe efbti,
calling her a true pativrata, even more so than Kalidasa’s heroine who
publicly criticizes her husband. Miranda’s frank and spontaneous
nature is also praised by Bankim. Bankim opines that, for the most part,
dusiput bcput tif xpsme bspuoe ifs. Lilf Eftefnpob, tif it ofvfs tiy:
she says after she glimpses Ferdinand.
Eftefnpob it frubmmy gpstisihit
about her physical needs: “If I be left behind,/A moth of peace, and he go
to the war,/The rites for which I love him are bereft me”
(tiftf tpfdi�d
lines from Shakespeare are not quoted by Bankim, but he would have
them in mind). Bankim implies that Shakespeare’s heroines may provide
a new model for Bengali women—a new kind of nobina who assimilates
Bankim in this essay also hints at a new kind of language that would
give expression to this new woman who would combine Miranda’s candour
xiti Eftefnpob’t tfm�ftt efvptipo. Io tiit fttby Bbolin it bevpdbtioh
a style of writing hitherto unknown in Bengali, a style that he recognized
in Shakespeare, a style that plumbs characters, particularly those of
xpnfo, tp tifis efptit: xiimf Sibluotbmb xbt b hbsefo, Eftefnpob,
in the complexity and profundity of her characterization, is an ocean. It
was Tagore who nuanced the portrayal of the new woman suggested by
Bankim even further by introducing Binodini in
Chokher Bali
woman who combines the virtues of the prachina and the nobina but who
also has agency and boldly expresses her own sexuality despite being a
Tagore eschews practically all outward sensationalism,
cf it io sbdy pmptt ps tpnfxibt tinpmi�fe dibsbdtfsizbtipo, tif gpsnfs
tif dsfbtipo pg xibt Eipfti Ciblsbvbsty dbmmt “iotfsipsity” tibt it dsudibm tp
tif cisti pg tif tfmg.sf�fyivf tuckfdt io tif Bfohbmi opvfm, b tuckfdt tibt
recipient of the gaze but observes himself/herself and others.
This may be
sfmbtfe tp xibt Tbhpsf tbyt io b mfttfs xsittfo tp Ioeisb Efvi Cipueiusboi
writing. We in Bengal deal very little in this particular commodity—and
pxo dpovidtipo it tibt I xbt tif �stt tp iotspeudf tif mboe pg Bfohbm tp
Bfohbmit bt b tuckfdt �t gps mitfsbtusf—ofitifs Midibfm ops Nbcio Sfo ps
the notion of the conjugal marriage and the related question of widow
rehabilitation, either through remarriage or other means. Tanika Sarkar
observes that the conjugal marriage was one of the ways in which the
Bengali Babu tried to introduce an element of romance or prem into an
arranged marriage. The Brahmo Marriage Act of 1873, the proposals to
introduce divorce in the 1880s and the Age of Consent Act of 1891 were
all indications, she argues, of the colonized subject’s attempt to introduce
mpvf bt b nfbot pg tfmg.gum�mmnfot io tif psivbtf epnbio xifo tif pucmid
one was the space of being browbeaten and insulted at the hands of the
Eipfti Ciblsbvbsty, ditioh Bbolin’t fttby “Vieybpbti
Jaidev,”
(Vieybpbti boe Jbiefv) tuhhfttt tibt tif Vbitiobv npefm pg mpvf cfioh
either physical or spiritual as described through the poems about Radha
and Krishna, Jaidev’s expressing
bahiprakriti
(outward beauty, sensuality)
boe Vieybpbti’t
, (spirituality/interiority,) formed an important
model for Bengali literary romantic love. Arranged marriages, often
contention is, could a love that combined the physical and the non-physical
(xiidi Bbolin bvpxt ttbyt tfpbsbtf io tif xpslt pg Jbiefv boe Vieybpbti,)
not be found in Shakespeare in plays such as
? Could not
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It was in part through the study of Shakespeare, I argue, that this
transition from stereotypical women characters to complex female
characters with physical desires and a sense of agency, this notion of prem
or romantic love that could combine the physical with the non-physical,
xfsf iotspeudfe io Bfohbmi �dtipo. Tif ppstsbybm pg Spnfp boe Jumift io
these illustrations is very much a result of the debates about the nature of
The second book I discuss is called
Shakespearer golpo tragedy o
comedy ekotre
cy Sisi Binbm Euttb MA, pucmitife cy B. Sbslbs & Cp. I mpplfe bt tif
second edition, published in 1940–45. This translation was published
in the tumultuous years leading up to Indian independence in 1947, but
there is no reference to this in the Preface. This is very significant. This
suggests that Shakespeare is almost a Bengali author. His association
with the colonial ruler in the years of greatest conflict requires no
explanation or apology.
The book is of 197 pages with eight illustrations, and six half- tone and
two line drawings. All the illustrations are full page illustrations. There
Nath Mitra and Shri Ashwini Kormokar. Mitra is the superior artist; his
signature is visible. Kormokar’s illustrations carry only his initials, if
Julius Caesar
: All these plays are there in the Lambs’ book, except
. The latter must have been included because it was part of
the Indian curriculum and had also been performed on stage and in school
performances. The book also contains seven comedies, of which I shall
look at the illustration for
The Merchant of Venice.
The Lambs’ collection
ibt, pg dpustf, nboy npsf, sftpme cy Mbsy Lbnc. Io tif Psfgbdf, Euttb
sfkpidft io tif gbdt tibt tif �stt feitipo tpme tp sbpiemy tibt if ibt opx
�stt, boe beefe bo bddpuot pg Siblftpfbsf’t migf boe tif ttpsy pg b ofx
Julius Caesar
are full-page signify that Bengali authors and publishers have realized the
iodsfbtioh inppstbodf pg immuttsbtipot tp bttsbdt sfbefst. Tif psidf, Euttb
1. He mentions Charles and Mary Lamb in his
However, this is not a mere translation of
inclusion of plays like
boe tif gbdt tibt Euttb epft opt
(“enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners of virtue, a withdrawing from
bmm tfm�ti boe nfsdfobsy tipuhitt, b mfttpo pg bmm txfft boe ipopusbcmf
thoughts and actions, to teach courtesy, benignity, generosity, humanity;
for of examples, teaching these virtues, his [Shakespeare’s] pages are full”
tmbviti initbtipo pg tif Lbnct’ xpsl. Euttb bmtp ttbtft tibt if ibt utfe
, opo.dpmmpruibm mbohubhf, gsff pg sfhipobm io�fdtipot boe
dialectical deviations, so that the work is accessible to all in Bengal. He
dmbint tibt xiimf tif ttpsift ibvf cffo feitfe, io psefs tp nblf tifn �t
for young readers, no crucial events have been omitted out of sloppiness
or haste. More importantly, the illustrations too are sanitized and do not
ibvf tif tfyubm bcboepo pg tif Sbltiit immuttsbtipot. Euttb nfotipot tif
fact that many others have brought out such collections and will continue
to do so, but he hopes that his book will survive the test of time as has
I xbot tp bobmyzf tif dpo�idtioh vitubm boe vfscbm obssbtivft io tiit
dumtusbmmy booptbtf/io�fdt tif Eohmiti tfyt, tif immuttsbtipot tfmm b eiggfsfot
gspotitpifdft ibvf tsfnfoeput tihoi�dbodf.
with a startling scene. It makes a statement even before the reader has read
a single line. It usurps, if temporarily, the power of the written word. In
this case, it does not spoil the suspense because this is a scene that occurs
(Fihusf 2.3). Tif xpse utfe, tif eihoi�fe
rather than the
ANJA
outline of sandals (not appropriate, given the location or time—it is as
ig tif bstitt’t fyibuttfe inbhiobtipo �obmmy hbvf up dsfbtioh dumtusbmmy
appropriate clothing when it came to the footwear). The ghost is a very
iotfsfttioh �husf. It it tif tbnf tizf bt Ibnmft; it tffnt tp ibvf tif tbnf
Siblftpfbsfs Gpmpp, Tsbhfey p
Cpnfey Elptsf
Sri Bimal Dutta, B. Sarkar & Co., 15 College Square, Calcutta, 2nd
Sanskaran, Magh 1347
right to space as a living being. It does not hover in the background as if
crossed over its chest—perhaps signifying its own truthfulness? The shoes
that it wears are the common Indian
nagra
. It wears no armour, apart from
tif ifbehfbs, xiidi it b tihoi�dbot efpbstusf gspn tif tfyt. Tif hiptt’t
genitalia are not illustrated proving that this is a sanitized edition that
io tif Sbltiit immuttsbtipot. Tif hiptt it b tpfdtsbm �husf io b tsbeitipo
one looks at the ghosts in Bengali folk tales and children’s tales one sees
that they are invariably hideous creatures. One may recall the creature in
Ebltiiob Sbokbo Mitsb Mbkunebs’t fopsnputmy pppumbs dpmmfdtipo pg gpml
. 1907). The ghost poses a real
challenge to Mitra. It has made a deep impression on his imagination. Mitra
Ioeibo tsbeitipo. Bftxffo tif txp �husft it b cuimeioh, cut opt b dbttmf; it
The illustration for
, the last one that I shall
examine, is also a full-page one (Figure 2.4). It is by the same artist:
Shumukh Nath Mitra. It is on the right side of the page, depicts the trial
scene and carries the caption, “
Ore yehudi darao aaro kichu baki achche
tif tfyt. It iotfoti�ft tif sfbefs’t pmfbtusf: tif tfft tif immuttsbtipo sihit
when she is reading about the trial. It also depicts a pivotal moment in the
trial. Portia and Shylock dominate the scene as protagonist and antagonist.
Tif ptifs �husft ipvfs cfiioe tifn. Siympdl, xiti xiitf ibis, cfbse boe b
big mole, dressed in a dark habit with an embroidered border, a brooch and
it bcput tp dmutdi Aotpoip io psefs tp fytsbdt iit ppuoe pg �fti. Tif pustf
indicates not just his profession or his attachment to wealth but hints that he
is about to lose all. Antonio wears an ornate knee-length tunic with puffed
jousting costumes. His hand covers his face. In the play Antonio is stoic;
here, the illustrator employs a dramatic gesture that would appeal to the
to the situation. Unlike Shylock and Antonio, Portia, arm dramatically
ANJA
opt tif �husft, ipxfvfs. At tif dfotsf pg tif immuttsbtipo it b pidtusf pg tif
Madonna and Child, presumably a painting hanging in the court. Mitra
imaginatively and economically refers through this painting, entirely his
own creation and not mentioned in the Shakespeare text, to the option of
mercy that has been offered to Shylock and which he rejects.
Mfsdibot pg Vfoidf
Siblftpfbsfs Gpmpp, Tsbhfey p
Cpnfey Elptsf
Sri Bimal Dutta, B. Sarkar & Co., 15 College Square, Calcutta, 2nd
words, the story of
Merchant of Venice
is so familiar to Mitra, unlike the
, that he can refer to events or speeches that
pg Siblftpfbsf sf�fdt tif bhf boe dpodfsot pg tif bhf, tif efcbtft
about the nature and portrayal of women and of romantic love current
the verbal and visual narratives, and how in their mixture of Western
tifis dpo�idtioh bttituef tpxbset Siblftpfbsf, b �husf bt podf gbnimibs
the Bengali imagination, is challenged. We can see that Charles Lamb’s
gfbst bcput tif immuttsbtipot pg Siblftpfbsf vbiomy tsyioh “tp dpo�of tif
are actually unfounded. Rather than limiting Shakespeare,
After seeing the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, Charles Lamb wrote to Samuel Rogers
po 21 Efdfncfs 1833, “Wibt iokusy eie opt Bpyefmm’t Siblftpfbsf Gbmmfsy ep nf xiti
Shakespeare. To have…light-headed Fuseli’s Shakespeare…deaf-headed Reynolds’
Shakespeare, instead of my and everybody’s Shakespeare. To be tied down to an
butifotid gbdf pg Jumift!.... Tp dpo�of tif imminitbcmf!” (Io iit xpslt, vpm. vii, 1903–04).
William Jaggard,
Shakespeare Bibliography: A Dictionary of Every Known Issue of
2.
See Shormistha Panja, “Shakespeare on the Indian Stage: Resistance, Recalcitrance,
eds. Robert
Henke and Eric Nicholson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 215–224 and “‘In Search of
a Local Habitation and a name’: Illustrations in 19th and 20th Century Bengali Prose
The Shakespearean International Yearbook 13: Special
3.
See Partha Chatterjee,
The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial
Histories
Hindu Wife, Hindu
(Efmii: Pfsnbofot Bmbdl,
See preface to Charles and Mary Lamb’s
Tales from Shakespeare
accessed 7 March
5.
All translations from this essay are mine.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, “Prachina o Nobina,” in
Bankim Rachanabali,
vol. 2.
ANJA
8.
All quotations from Shakespeare are from
eds. Stephen
10.
: the New Woman,
Signifying the Self: Women and
eds. Malashri Lal, Shormishtha Panja and Sumanyu Satpathy (2004; repr.,
Efmii: Mbdnimmbo, 2007), 211–225 gps b eftbimfe eitduttipo pg Bbolin boe Tbhpsf’t
in light of the new thoughts about the role and identity of women in Bengal.
Sff Eipfti Ciblsbcbsty, “Witoftt tp Suggfsioh: Epnfttid Csufmty boe tif Bisti pg
the Modern Subject in Bengal,” in
Questions of Modernity,
ed. Timothy Mitchell
Ksitiob Euttb boe Aoesfx Spciotpo, fet.
Sff Euttb boe Spciotpo,
. Perhaps Tagore is pigeonholing Bankim
was popularly known, rather than the Bankim of domestic novels like
Partha Chatterjee
io iit fttby “Txp Ppftt boe Efbti: Po Civim boe Ppmitidbm Spdifty io tif Npo.Cisittibo
World,” in
Questions of Modernity
ed. Timothy Mitchell (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota
P, 2000), 35–48 refers to Tagore’s speech at a condolence meeting held after Bankim’s
death. There he says that as a result of the presence of Europe both “external conditions
36). Ifodf tifsf it optiioh bsti�dibm bcput npusoioh tif efbti pg b ppft io pucmid bt
14.
The Illustrated Shakespeare 1709–1875
(Cambridge: Cambridge UP,
2008) and his excellent essay on frontispieces, “Image, Word, Authority in the Early
Modern Frontispiece” in
Word, Image, Text: Studies in Literary and Visual Culture
fet. Sipsnititib Pbokb, Siistifoeu Ciblsbcbsti boe Cisittfm S. Efvbebxtpo (Efmii:
15.
Again, one could compare Rackham’s less ambitious illustration of Shylock sharpening
his knife on his shoe, with the caption, “Shylock was sharpening a long knife.” Shylock
leans against a table, his brow is furrowed in concentration, and not, one imagines,
io boyifty bt tif psptpfdt pg fytsbdtioh b ppuoe pg �fti. Sbdlibn esfttft iin io tif
usual Jewish garb, including a cap. He has a beard and a moustache. The illustration,
like the monochromatic colouring, is somewhat bland and lacking in drama. Rackham
See note 1.
Bibhash Chakraborty’s production of the Bengali
narrative tells us that the pub is reopening after being closed for “extremist
would be performed to celebrate the
occasion. The performance would be dedicated to the memory of a man,
a friend of the pub owner, who was killed in a police “encounter” several
Calcutta
Hamlet
s as it does with the imaginary of violent clashes between
is repeatedly used to map a political cartography of Kolkata from the
1970s to contemporary times through a reading of Asit Basu’s
(1973), Bratya Basu’s
(2006) and Bibhash Chakraborty’s
The reference to the “encounter” in Chakraborty’s
Hamlet
evokes
essay “Dharmatollar
” �stt pucmitife io 1971,
when Kolkata had turned into
(the title of a Dutt play). The
essay starts with a scene that had become chillingly common in the
HAKRAVARTI
contemporary urbanscape—that of an unclaimed corpse of a young
earlier history of colonial Kolkata, that of the Indian National Army (INA)
uprising of the mid-1940s against the British.
By connecting a familiar
city sight with an older event, Dutt locates the contemporary in a longer
, opening up a vista of the city’s revolutionary past condensed in a
moment of intense theatricality. The dramatic description of the crowd
tusspuoeioh tif dpsptf, cummftt cfioh �sfe io tif eittbodf, tsbnt cusoioh
(Eutt’t �dtipobm nputipifdf) suniobtipot bcput sfvpmutipobsy tifbtsf,
class struggle and Shakespeare’s plays. Japenda admits that the young
sung about parliamentarians—these cultural expressions need armed
revolutionaries like these reckless boys, such as a Surya Sen or a Subhash
Jbpfoeb bobmyzft tif pmby bt bo inbhf pg dmbtt dpo�idt io xiidi tif ifsp
emerges as a youthful voice of resistance against the greed and corruption
pg b sitioh cpushfpitif. Csitidizioh tif tdifnbtid pvfstinpmi�dbtipo pg
contemporary Left theatre, Japenda advises his young interlocutor to learn
in his uncompromising hatred for the class enemy he is simple, upright and
without doubts.”
Japenda’s injunction inaugurates a tradition of Bengali
s in which the protagonist is represented as a revolutionary who
dies a martyr’s death in an often doomed political struggle. He is an action
hero rather than the brooding intellectual uneasy with killing, familiar in
Japenda/Dutt’s political reading of
appears to be indebted to the
Shakespeare was a well-loved playwright in pre-revolutionary Russia
Craig collaborated in a landmark
production for the Moscow Art
tifbtsf. Io tif Stbmioitt sfhinf, tifsf xbt bo uopg�dibm npsbtpsiun po tif
play for over a decade. This was triggered by Stalin’s casual remark in
1941 questioning the performance of the play by the Moscow Art Theatre.
Although Stalin’s reservations against the play were never publicized,
they perhaps had to do with a distrust of an over critical, self-doubting
and indecisive hero unable to take action.
This seemed particularly
unsuited to the mood of the early 1940s when Russian people needed
However, the silencing of the play rendered it more political.
Performances of
were revived in 1953 after Stalin’s death. The
nptt tihoi�dbot bnpoh tiftf xbt Gsihpsi Kpziottfv’t 1954 pspeudtipo
at the Pushkin Theatre in Leningrad using Boris Pasternak’s translation.
sftittbot �husf; if cfdbnf b “‘csptifs.io.bsnt,’…io tif bseuput boe
exercise of power. The image of Denmark as a prison became emblematic
underlined through its rattling lattices the ambience of a prison
Criticizing Laurence Olivier’s 1948
�mn gps duttioh “tif tifnf
pg hpvfsonfot xiidi I �oe tif nptt iotfsfttioh,”
�mn po tif pmby fnpibtizfe tif tfotf pg dpfsdivf nfobdf tibt Emtiopsf
represents. Through it he tried to capture the surveillance and secret police
The architecture of Elsinore-not walls, but ears in the walls. There are
doors so that one can eavesdrop behind them, windows so that one can spy
Through the 1960s and 1970s, directors like Voldemar Panso and Yuri
in the tradition of Brechtian political theatre.
portrayed characters as pawns of a larger political
machine, Lyubimov’s 1971 production at the Moscow Taganka theatre was
marked by the symbolic “curtain” that dominated the stage, representing
this production, Vladimir Vysotsky, an iconic rebellious poet-intellectual,
HAKRAVARTI
with mediocrity and corruption, as well as his preference for an “honest
This tradition of politicizing the play helped
b ypuoh sfcfm uoefs bo butipsitbsibo sfhinf bppfbst tp ibvf io�ufodfe
adaptations under discussion. This could be seen as the
within political events like the INA or the
,”
a young man’s corpse. This is the basic structure of great dramatic
rings through subsequent Bengali re-workings of
that
marker of the city’s decay and indifference. Even before the drunks come
are afraid to bear witness, the camera becomes the objective recorder of
events. The photographer promises the audience a play on Kolkata, as
Kpmlbtb…Kpmlbtb…tif dpotspvfstibm nftspppmit ps tif ofdspppmit ps…tif
, loudspeakers, subscriptions, concerts, films and culture! Here
there is hunger, famine and epidemic, the obscene excesses of the lords of
not flinch, is numb to pain. Strange, strange, strange, my city Kolkata.
While the 1970s represent a unique moment, stark in its unprecedented
in “Dharmatollar
history. The photographer’s description of Kolkata stokes memories of
the Bengal famine of 1943 in which two million people died of hunger
(the harvest festival) produced by the Indian People’s Theatre
and depicts the debilitating effects of the famine on peasants who were
driven by hunger to migrate to Kolkata. The play portrays their subhuman
existence, huddled in pavements, begging for starch, scavenging in rubbish
heaps and dying of starvation while the urban rich continue their lavish
celebrations of weddings and feasts. The play maps a cityscape of stark
take responsibility for the city’s dead or to bear witness to its brutalities
committed theatre director, Avi, to the numb audience of Kolkata. The
tdfof tiigtt io �bticbdl tp b sfifbstbm sppn xiti Avi’t tspupf psbdtidioh
a play on Abhimanyu’s death. The story from the Mahabharata about
the unjust killing of Arjuna’s young and valiant son through the intrigue
contemporary political reality as a youth, a present day Abhimanyu,
sutift iotp tif sfifbstbm tpbdf, dibtfe cy tif ppmidf. If csif�y �oet
shelter among the actors before he is forced out and killed. This young
anonymous dead, is then replaced by a surrogate from the repertory of
prepared for. Earlier in the play, Avi remarks that he felt he was living in
says that it was not Claudius’ Denmark, “the boy” responds: “Claudiuses
�hitioh boe limmioh fbdi ptifs. Tify eieo’t fvfo lopx tibt tifis xfbppot
and killed, Avi remarks that he has left for “the undiscovered country from
Tiftf sfgfsfodft nbtfsibmizf io tif �husf pg Ibnmft xip bppfbst io
the rehearsal room, declaring he is a changeless and deathless twenty-
familiar with every language in which
is acted. He takes on an
HAKRAVARTI
iconic role in the play, representing youthful rebellion against a corrupt
and entrenched political order. He also stands for the inevitable failures
die. As such he is like Abhimanyu and the Naxal revolutionary killed in
gpsti, ny tipuhitt cf cmppey…ps optiioh xpsti”
), Avi grips him by
Fool! You have been moving in the labyrinth of “bloody thoughts” for four
iuoesfe yfbst cut ibvf mfbsot optiioh…tif bis it ifbvy xiti tif tnfmm pg
gunpowder, firearms are roaring through the breeze, the ground beneath the
gfft it tmippfsy xiti cmppe…tif Cmbueiutft ibvf tnfbsfe Efonbsl xiti
“cmppey effet”…opx tblf tibt txpse gspn itt tdbccbse…. Cbo’t ypu tff
poignantly: “It never had any sharpness. It is a stage foil! How can I win a
cbttmf xiti tibt?”
These lines point towards both the tragic ineffectuality
Ipvfsioh cftxffo b sfbm dibsbdtfs boe tyncpmid �husf nbef up
announcing his literary existence “Words, words, words/Like a whore
uopbdlioh ny ifbst xiti xpset” boe dpo�btioh txp tfpbsbtf uttfsbodft
of Hamlet.
He claims a place in the revolutionary struggles in the theatre
and politics of 1970s Kolkata since he sees his city and Denmark within the
same continuum of political corruption:
“I see that Denmark has spread
like an infectious sore all over the world! I can see that your country is
This universalizing impulse runs through Basu’s play, connecting the
political imperative of committed Left theatre to classic texts and authors
, and Shakespeare and
Calderon. This also links Basu’s play with Japenda’s injunction to follow
the classics in “Dharmatollar
” But the mapping of Denmark
potp dpotfnppsbsy Kpmlbtb epft opt eimutf tif tpfdi�dity pg tif mbttfs. It
fnfshft bt b ppxfsgum psftfodf iotfoti�fe tispuhi tif bppsppsibtipo pg
Shakespeare’s play
rehearsal space and have turned into an itinerant theatre company like
. Avi remarks with satisfaction that now
and exiles. Only an unhoused theatre can serve the needs of the deprived
Avi’s lines about actors turned outdoors are also a comment on the
contemporary experiments of moving out of the proscenium stage into
theatre movement emphasized the need to perform in unconventional
makeshift wooden platforms, so that ordinary people who could not afford
The new socially committed,
democratic theatre movement of 1970s Kolkata sought to take plays to the
masses by making the urban public spaces their stage. Both the spectacle
of political violence and the drama of protest were being played out on
images of a revolutionary rally and of a beggar-child dancing in joy. The
�obm mioft pg tif pmby bsf “Kpmlbtb—cfbutigum, Kpmlbtb.uhmy, Kpmlbtb—
He expostulates when Avi is shocked: “Am I not a man just because I
bn tif ppft’t iovfotipo? Eie I fbt ppftsy? Eie I �pbt vfstft io sftppotf
tp obtusf’t dbmm?...Sdpuoesfm!” If dibsbdtfsizft iit dsfbtps bt: “Tif hsfbt
cbse…ny dsfbtps…xbt if boy mftt sphuiti? Sudi tdpuoesfmt xfsf sbsf io
io tibt Lpoepo.” Ibnmft sfef�oft vumhbsity gps Avi: “Io tudi b tinf boe
fovisponfot xpume opt sf�ofe xpset tpuoe vumhbs? Tif Cmbueiutft ibvf
Basu’s play distances itself from the tradition of liberal, humanist
bardolatory and commits itself to a material and revolutionary engagement
with Shakespeare inspired by the socialist tradition of political readings
establish Shakespeare as a playwright with a radical social consciousness.
In his essay, “
Hamlet
and Popularity,
38
Dutt characterizes Shakespeare’s
play as a study of class struggle that reflects the social mobility and
HAKRAVARTI
was being threatened by the rising bourgeoisie. His essay dwells on
contemporary accounts of London that describe it as a flashpoint of
mercantile nouveau riche who spent their newly acquired money on leisure,
at taverns, brothels and theatres. The latter class was supported by the
new working class, the young apprentices from workshops, who made
up the bulk of the theatre audience. They were perceived as a source of
social disorder since they rioted and attacked aristocrats frequently. The
new urban milieu of London provided public spaces and recreational sites
By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken note of it, the age is
grown so picked, that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of our
Dutt’s reading of
Hamlet
locates it within the city, characterized as a space
that crystallizes class struggle. In
capital and the relationships it produces. In
The Condition of the Working
Class in England
London and the state of its poor, Engels was “among the first to see the
modern city as a social and physical consequence of capitalism: built
and living in its modes.” In the
observe “the bourgeoisie had subjected the country to the rule of the
tpxot…ibt dsfbtfe fopsnput ditift.”
Although these comments apply
seventeenth century, manifests signs of a proto-capitalist city, divided
in the context of contemporary
urban-class struggle, reflects this view that is echoed in the relocation of
More recently, writing about the contemporary political relevance of
in 2011, in the aftermath of a regime change
in West Bengal, Bibhash Chakraborty mentions the lines “Denmark is a
prison” (quoted in
) and “the toe of the peasant comes
so near the heel of the courtier” (cited in “
embodying the central theme of class struggle. These lines, emphasized
by earlier Bengali readings and productions of
to underline the
ppmitidbm dpotfot pg tif pmby, mpdbtft Ciblsbcpsty’t pspeudtipo �snmy
xitiio tibt tsbkfdtpsy. Ciblsbcpsty kutti�ft iit dipidf pg b dity puc gps tif
tp sfitfsbtf tibt Siblftpfbsf xbt opt bo ivpsy tpxfs ppft; if xbt tp cf
found frequently, as Thomas Fuller mentions, at the Mermaid Tavern
in London, mixing with the common people.
This characterization of
Shakespeare lies on an intertextual continuum connecting Dutt’s essay
with Basu’s and Chakraborty’s
Hamlet
productions. These texts project an
1940t, 1970t ps tif txfoty.�stt dfotusy, bt b nfmtioh ppt pg tif dmbttft.
This image becomes inseparable from the vernacular Marxist tradition of
reading the play politically, as a document of class strife. This could be
(2006) also draws from
the vernacular tradition of deploying Shakespeare’s
socio-political critique established by Dutt. However, staged 34 years
is about the failure of revolution. More
specifically it registers a disappointment with Left politics in Bengal
single-party rule for over three decades.
a very different Kolkata of the twenty-first century and its crises. His
protagonist, Hemlat, is not only identified with, but constituted by the city
and its landmarks. In an interview to Ravishankar Bal, Bratya describes
If it opt Ibnmft esfttfe io b dmpbl…I ibvf tffo iin, dibttfe xiti iin,
tpfot tinf io tif dpggff.iputf xiti iin…io Kibmbtitpmmb…io tif mpdbm
tsbio…io tif ofihicpusippe tfb tipp. Witi iin, b spuhi yputi pg tif
Hemlat is no prince, nor is he a revolutionary. Bratya describes him: “His
gbtifs nby ibvf podf pxofe b iputf…But if ibt cfdpnf nbshiobm io
He smokes bidis, loves his girlfriend, reads pornography, masturbates, again
hpft tp bttfoe tif ofihicpusippe pukb cut dboopt ruitf dpnnuoidbtf…
he thinks he should join a science club, or he feels such an anarchy within
him that he feels he must fight against the institution called father, the
HAKRAVARTI
Hemlat’s very name, as Ananda Lal observes, dislocates Shakespeare’s
Hemlat represents a lumpenized, lower-middle-class protagonist from
Garanhata, a neighbourhood in the older, northern fringes of the city
that is rapidly, unevenly and even grotesquely transforming through the
development boom unleashed by economic liberalization. Pankaj, one
for refusing to sign away his claim on the ancestral home, becomes the
at the Mitra Café where he ate brain chops before catching a matinee at
they cling to a lost North Kolkata world. His ineffectual attempt to hold
Bratya’s play takes an unforgiving look at a colonial city in decline,
brokering away its own history and its old buildings to a criminal land
nb�b, iboe io hmpvf xiti tif hpvfsonfot. Tiit it b Kpmlbtb xiidi it gbtt
mentioned interview, Ravishankar points out to Bratya: “We don’t see
Hemlat’s Kolkata in the Kolkata that we move around in. Each city bears
a hidden city within it.” And later in the same interview, Ravishankar
which is the author’s autobiography but also what Pamuk has called the
Reading the play inevitably conjured up the sound of conch shells,
dogs barking, pigeons calling, mosquitoes and flies, trains, the raucous
cheerfulness of the burning Ghats—this was an ancient, mossy smelling
eioptbus milf dity; itt sict, obimt, mpvft, tpso litft tusoioh io tif tlymiof—
that the play tries to visualize through the ghost-haunted neighbourhood
of Garanhata, unable to keep pace with a fast changing, modernizing city.
There is no place for Garanhata’s disaffected, unemployed youth in
the new Kolkata of malls and multiplexes being constructed on the ruins
of its past. Struggling for a foothold in the new city, Pankaj, Bimal,
Lachhu and their friends try their hand at odd jobs. Rendered redundant
in the new city, Garanhata’s youth do not rebel but keep themselves busy
conciliating the local councilor to keep on the right side of the ruling Left
party or distracting themselves by planning celebrations at the local club.
The city’s once illustrious cultural legacy is now reduced to tokenistic
observations of Tagore’s and Nazrul’s birthdays while people only wish
Pppumbs Iioei �mn tpoht xpsl bt b mfitnptig io tif pmby. Tifis bopeyof
accompanied by a surreal procession of six dwarfs in a band party, raising
slogans that evoke familiar Left government policies like abolishing
” (anti-culture) that
was once ironically represented by the very Bollywood music that has
Mutid boe eibmphuft gspn tif 1970t boe 1980t Bpmmyxppe �mnt pspvief
Hemlat’s father’s ghost with a vehicle through which he expresses himself
and his passion for cinema. These histrionic, oft-quoted lines convey the
bncifodf pg b uoivfstf eftfsniofe boe nfeibtfe cy Iioei �mnt, io xiidi
language has broken down and it is impossible to speak except through dated,
clichéd and kitschy dialogues. These lines also create an ironic distance
in a spirit of
post-modern pastiche. Bratya explains that he attempts a “deconstruction”
io xiidi tif Psiodf pg Efonbsl �oet b pbspeid iodbsobtipo io
Ifnmbt tif psiodf pg Gbsboibtb, b puoy ifsp pg exbs�ti tinft xip mivft io
Hemlat reads a cheap Bengali translation of “The great bard
—edited and translated by Sri Bidhubhushan
BL. The correct version.” Although the neighbourhood boys initially
play. Harish (Horatio) opens the performance by saying “Today we present
to you, the great bard’s creation,
…ig tiit iodiefot xfsf tp ibppfo
dpuodimps xbsot: “I ximm ttpp it bmm…. I ximm �oiti ypu timfotmy. I xpo’t
touch your body, hit or beat you up—but I will annihilate you through
silence.” Earlier in the play, Sukhen warns Hemlat not to try his humour
on him: “If we win [the elections], then I will make sure that we stick
HAKRAVARTI
in which
tif psptbhpoitt gffmt “psptftt ps sfvfohf…bsf nfsfmy fmfnfott pg
sfdsfbtipo…tif nieemf dmbtt’t nbttuscbtipo.” Io b xpsme fnptife pg
meaningful political action, Hemlat can only avenge himself through
self-slaughter. There are no possibilities of rebellion or of dying in a fatal
“encounter” with a hostile state power. Bratya says: “[W]e have seen a
eiggfsfot ppmitidt io tif 70’t…opx tify ximm limm ypu bt ipnf…tif nptt
npefso gpsn pg limmioh—tif ef�oitipo pg tif ppmitidt pg timfodioh…tiit
Hemlat and his world is reminiscent of T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock who
efoift tif iefoti�dbtipo, tif ppfn ppxfsgummy fttbcmitift Ibnmft xitiio
and politically alienated persona that Prufrock represents. This could be
Io tif ppmitidbmmy pbsbmytfe xpsme pg Gbsboibtb ibuotfe cy tif nug�fe
contemplates and abandons, seems to be the only possible destiny. While
is aborted, Hemlat at least successfully kills himself. In the face of this
king represents the possibilities of a lost world of heroism, while Fortinbras
who takes over the kingdom promises order and freedom from a usurper’s
rule. But in Bratya’s play an unbroken line of impotence and ineffectuality
connects the generations. There is little to justify Hemlat’s hope that his
heir will have a different life. Like the musty, mossy Kolkata collapsing
Much more powerful than this forced cheerfulness of the resolution
it tif �bticbdl inbhf pg tif ypuoh Ifnmbt xiti Sifgbmi (Ppifmib) io tif
closing moments of the play as they sit by the Ganges, watching ships
sail by. The scene is charged with nostalgia for an idyll suffused with the
innocence and promise of early romance. The semi-urban riverscape has
a pastoral feel even as it evokes the memories of an older Kolkata, the old
port city frequented by big ships, connected to the wide world through
its international trading links. The young Hemlat dreams of becoming a
of a typhoon. This was a city that once allowed these visions of growth
boe bevfotusf. A mpohfs vittb ppfot up, tblioh tif pmby put pg tif dpo�oft
of a ghost-haunted, claustrophobic Garanhata that turns cannibalistically,
the gloom of Hemlat’s suicide than the unconvincing, redemptive
The river scene also uncovers the pastoral fantasy underlying
Shakespeare’s play. Hamlet’s anxiety of the unweeded garden that
Denmark has become
evokes the image of a lost Eden, represented
Just beyond the
psitpo tibt it Emtiopsf it b �pxfsy ieymm boe bo pme xpsme nfnpsibmizfe io
Ppifmib’t cbmmbet, pspvfsct boe �pxfs.hivioh situbmt.
Gertrude’s elegy
eftdsicioh Ppifmib’t xbtfsy efbti bt tif tbt uoefs ximmpxt nblioh �psbm
dislocates the play of intrigue and male revenge and shows us
makes
it pbstidumbsmy eig�dumt tp uoefsttboe xiy tif Bfohbmi tifbtsidbm tsbeitipo
Gail Kern Paster observes how both Biblical and classical myths about
the founding of cities refer to an originary moment of fratricide. The
Pme Tfttbnfot tpfblt pg tif fttbcmitinfot pg tif �stt dity cy Cbio xip
killed his brother Abel, took his wife as his own and had a son with her.
He called the city Enoch after his son. The classical myth of Romulus’
murder of his brother Remus and the establishment of Rome underlines
fratricide in Shakespeare’s
dity? Tif cftsbybm pg pme Ibnmft cy Cmbueiut boe Gfstsuef tihoi�ft tif
loss of a pastoral world of innocence and integrity. Does the loss of Eden
gbdimitbtf tif npvfnfot iotp tif bopoynput, bsti�dibm, boe uodbsioh tpbdf
pg tif dity? Io cpti Eutt’t boe Bbtu’t sfbeioh pg
and indifferent Kolkata represents a city fatally divided by civil strife,
it bmtp ippf pg sfofxbm boe dibohf tispuhi tif tbdsi�dft pg tif ypuoh.
But Hemlat’s city fails to gesture towards any hope and the tone of the
It is significant to remember that the urbanizing of
to Bengali theatre. Michael Almereyda’s film,
, situates the
HAKRAVARTI
Claudius is the CEO of “Denmark Corporation,” which is based in the
plush Hotel Elsinore where battles are replaced by corporate takeovers.
The film is suffused in the ambience of New York—the lights of Times
Although there are no urban
, Indian cinematic negotiations
ppmitidt pg tpfdi�d Ioeibo ditift. Io Bibsbexbk’t
Tif Kpmlbtb tfttioh ef�oft tif vfsy npef pg Siblftpfbsfbo ofhptibtipo
io txp Eohmiti.mbohubhf Ioeibo �mnt cbtfe po
. Io cpti �mnt, tif
city, the erstwhile capital of the empire, becomes the site of memorializing
the colonial legacy of the Bard. In Aparna Sen’s
, a
paean to the disappearing Anglo Indian community of Kolkata, the elderly
protagonist, a Lear surrogate, recites lines from the play as she sits facing
Rituparno Ghosh’s
pays an elegiac tribute to the dying
English theatre (and its Shakespearean repertory) of Calcutta through the
reminiscences of Harry, an ageing actor who lives in the past and dreams
of playing King Lear. Ghosh also pays a tribute to Utpal Dutt whose 1985
Aajker Shahjahan
(today’s Shahjahan) provides the plot
. But Ghosh’s nostalgic bardolatory is at odds with Dutt’s
Marxist indigenizations of Shakespeare that inspired the Bengali tradition
Io Gipti’t �mn, Kpmlbtb it vifxfe gspn b eittbodf, po b CCTV tdsffo
in Harry’s secluded room in an elegant mansion. A recluse, Harry and his
protégé, observe the moving city, like “God’s spies,”
reminding us of
tif ppfoioh tfrufodf pg Sbtybkit Sby’t idpoid �mn
where the
a relationship with both Shakespeare and Kolkata that
is framed by colonial nostalgia. Ensconced in his colonial mansion,
Harry refuses to acknowledge the humdrum rhythms of contemporary
This relationship is very different from the one established in the Bengali
theatrical tradition previously discussed. Although cinema is more able to
capture the sights and smells of the urbanscape, it is in Dutt’s evocation of
Kolkata comes alive in its everyday reality and its layered histories rather
than in the distant and alienating recreation of the city in
io�fdtfe cy Ibssy’t dpotfnpt gps npefso Kpmlbtb boe tif piimittioitn
of its busy crowds who fail to recognize Shakespearean lines. While
is relocated in contemporary Kolkata in Dutt’s essays and Basu’s
and Bratya’s plays, within a continuum of the history of social revolutions
or their failures, Ghosh, despite the homage he pays to the theatre and to
archive, preserved in the memory of an ageing actor in a colonial house,
The colonial name of the city of Calcutta was changed by the government in 2001 to
Kolkata to approximate more closely with the original vernacular name of one of the
2.
Utpal Dutt (1929–93), was one of India’s greatest Shakespeareans who had extensively
translated Shakespeare’s plays into Bengali, produced, directed and acted in
3.
(Collected Prose), vol.1,
ed. Samik Bandyopadhyay (Kolkata: Dey’s Publishing, 2004), 129–38. (Henceforth
referred to as
). First published in 1971 as part of the collection of essays called
4.
The Naxal Movement in Bengal derives its name from Naxalbari, the place where a
section of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) initiated an armed uprising in 1967
to redistribute land to the landless. The Mao Zedong-inspired radical movement soon
spread among the urban youth of Kolkata who undertook a violent struggle to overthrow
tif cpushfpit hpvfsonfot. Tif ypuoh obybmitft “booiiimbtfe” butipsity �husft boe
of undertrials in staged “encounters.” By 1972, the movement had been fragmented
An uprising of the Royal Indian Navy started in February 1946 off the Bombay port in
sftppotf tp tif tsibm pg tif Ioeibo Nbtipobm Asny (INA) pg�dfst xip ibe gpuhit bhbiott
the British during the Second World War under the leadership of Subhash Chandra
Bptf. Addutfe pg “xbhioh xbs bhbiott tif Kioh Enpfsps,” tiftf pg�dfst xfsf tffo bt
revolutionaries by their countrymen. Their stories incited a mutiny in the Royal Indian
Nbvy pgg Bpncby tibt cfdbnf b gumm.�fehfe boti.Bsititi npvfnfot boe tpsfbe tp ptifs
ports like Karachi and Kolkata. The two main nationalist political parties, The Muslim
League and the Congress, disowned, opposed and even helped to quell this popular and
spontaneous rebellion since their leadership was not part of its planning or execution.
HAKRAVARTI
the masses, led by ordinary naval ratings, dispensing with the leadership of bourgeois
political parties, against imperialist powers. Dutt’s play,
(1965), celebrates the
, 137. Susyb Sfo xbt b Bfohbmi gsffepn �hitfs xip mfe tif Ciittbhpoh bsnpusy
raid in 1930. Subhash Bose, a nationalist leader who quit the moderate line of the
Congress to wage war against the British by joining the Axis powers in World War II.
Witi Jbpboftf tupppst if pshboizfe tif INA tp �hit gps Ioeibo ioefpfoefodf. Tiftf
names of nationalist revolutionaries underline the connection that Dutt is trying to
8.
the “Hamletism” or blind self-absorption of the Russian intelligentsia. In post-
revolutionary Russia it became synonymous with a narcissistic posturing of politically
alienated individuals antagonistic to the needs of collectivization and action in the new
9.
See Arthur Mendel, “Hamlet and Soviet Humanism,”
Slavic Review
30, no. 4,
In his novel,
Bend Sinister
, written after he arrived in the USA in 1940, Nabokov
contains a chapter describing the trials of a translator who must produce a state sponsored
12.
Okhlopkov, “Producer’s Exposition of
Quoted by Mendel from Kozintsev’s collection of essays called
William Shakespeare:
of the Mid-century” on the 1956
Communist Party, Jan Kott notes the emphasis on surveillance. See
Kott quotes from Brecht’s analysis of
Little Organum
io tif yfbst pg tif Sfdpoe Wpsme Wbs…Bsfdit
was sensitive to the politics in
. He was more interested in the sequences of
iittpsidbm dpo�idt tibo io tif efptit pg tif Psiodf pg Efonbslt’ tpum.” Sff
Shakespeare
The interlocutor in “
Dutt, “Dharmatollar
Asit Basu,
The interlocutor in “
The interlocutor in “
According to the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna, the
greatest warrior among the Pandavas, one of the central protagonists of the epic.
Abhimanyu was Krishna’s nephew and was married to Uttara. Having inherited
iit gbtifs’t �hitioh bcimitift if pptfe b nbkps tisfbt tp tif fofny io tif cbttmf pg
the battle through a conspiracy of the war elders who trapped him in a labyrinth from
which he could not escape. Abhimanyu’s son Parikshit, born after his father’s death
The interlocutor in “
, ed. Harold Jenkins, The Arden Shakespeare (London
boe Nfx Ypsl: Sputmfehf, 1992; �stt pucmitife io 1982 cy Mftiufo). Tiftf mioft bsf
cited in “Dharmatollar
readings of the play. He describes the 1956 Cracow production: “It was a political drama
pbs fydfmmfodf. ‘Spnftiioh it spttfo io tif ttbtf pg Efonbsl’—xbt tif �stt dipse pg
Ibnmft’t ofx nfboioh. Aoe tifo tif efbe tpuoe pg tif xpset, ‘Efonbsl’t b psitpo’,
The interlocutor in “
The interlocutor in “
34.
Jatra, a folk theatre form popular in rural Bengal and Orissa from the sixteenth
century originally presented mythological tales through a melodramatic, bombastic
and didactic mode. These open-air often all-night performances would be watched by
large audiences. Realizing the reach of the Jatra form, Utpal Dutt deployed it for his
revolutionary theatre of the masses. After 1968 when Dutt’s group moved out of the
also started working on political plays written as Jatra and produced and acted in them,
Badal Sircar (1925–2011) was a noted experimental dramatist and director known
for his politically radical plays in the 1970s. His best known play, “Ebong Indrajit”
written in 1963 portrayed the angst of post-independence urban youth. His theatre
taking up the experimental techniques of alternative or “third theatre” to take plays
(Anganmanch). Sircar’s plays used minimal props, lighting and costumes and
improvized dialogue to communicate directly with their audience. He wrote over 50
HAKRAVARTI
plays that include well known plays like “Ebong Indrajit,” “Baasi Khabor” “Bhoma”
and others.
Hamlet
p Jbobpsiyptb,” �stt pucmitife io 1964 io b dpmmfdtipo pg fttbyt fotitmfe
“Smoking Teacup.” See Utpal Dutt, “
Dharmatollar
Gadya Sangraha
(Cpmmfdtfe Psptf), vpm.1, fe. Sbnil Bboeyppbeiyby (Kpmlbtb: Efy’t Pucmitiioh, 2004;
Raymond Williams,
42.
Hamlet: A Collection
Here it is perhaps pertinent to point out that Bratya Basu, an academic and playwright,
ibt cffo b vpdigfsput dsitid pg tif Lfgt hpvfsonfot eusioh itt �obm yfbst. Bsbtyb kpiofe
the Trinamul Congress Party that replaced the 34 year long rule of the Left in West
Bengal. He became minister of culture when Trinamul came to power in 2011 defeating
Bratya Basu,
(Kolkata: Patralekha, 2007), 107. The play will henceforth be
. The quote refers to familiar city landmarks—Khalasitola is an old
1950t; Cpmmfhf Stsfft it tif Npsti Cbmduttb spbe miofe xiti cppl tippt boe bdbefnid
Founded in 1920 by Shushil Roy, Mitra Café in Shovabazar is an old North Kolkata
, 94. Sarkar mentions the names of old North Kolkata neighbourhoods. Nimtolla
is known for its cremation grounds and Chitpur for being the nerve centre of Kolkata
52.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) and Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899–1976) are iconic
mitfsbsy �husft pg Bfohbm xiptf cistiebyt bsf pctfsvfe bt gfttivf pddbtipot. Bpti xfsf
pspmi�d xsitfst pg tpoht tibt bsf tyopoynput xiti sftpfdtbcmf nieemfdmbtt Bfohbmi
dumtusf. Bpmmyxppe tpoht sfgfs tp nutid gspn pppumbs Iioei �mnt, dpotiefsfe vumhbs.
Tif tpoh it b tfotubm “itfn ouncfs” gspn tif pppumbs Iioei �mn, “Buoty bus Bbcmi”
T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”
1.2. 135–37.
1.5. 35–36.
4.7. 165–89.
Gail, Kern Paster,
The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare
(Athens: University
5.2. 8–17; Wimmibn Siblftpfbsf,
Released in 1964 Satyajit Ray’s
iputfxigf xiti bo uogum�mmioh nbssibhf xbt cbtfe po b Tbhpsf tipst ttpsy,
(Tif Bsplfo Nftt). Tif �mn fybnioft Cibsu’t csifg sfmbtipotiip xiti ifs csptifs.io.
Indian Heritage in the Postcolonial
is known as the Courtyard Theatre positioned barely half a mile in one
direction from where Shakespeare was allegedly born, and in the other
direction from where he more certainly lies buried, the audience coming to
sights and especially the sounds of a tourist dream of a colourful, noisy and
bustling Delhi. Their ears were assailed with contemporary popular Indian
music, there was the typical cacophony of vehicle horns and the occasional
patron would be accosted by an exotically-garbed individual offering to
find them a good hotel for the night. The front of house announcements
Indian voice that turned out to belong to the British Asian actor, Simon
another Indian Dogberry in the 1976 Royal Shakespeare Company
Indian garrison town under the nineteenth-century British Raj. Then,
however, in what was a much-praised production, Dogberry was played
by the distinguished white English actor John Woodvine wearing brown
makeup and a turban. All the members of Dogberry’s watch were
played by browned-up white actors. Overall, the production derived
much of its emotional depth from a focus on the sense of dislocation
as Sylvia Morris recalled in her
Shakespeare blog
, the rationale that was
given for Dogberry’s Indianization was that “his linguistic errors were
caused by his trying to follow the alien procedures of the British Raj”
and he provided a “plausible analogue to the procedural confusion of
The rationale for not casting a naturally brown
Ioeibo.ifsitbhf bdtps, ipxfvfs, xbt tibt opof pg tug�difot bdtioh tbmfot
That voice, however, then and indeed now, also evokes
other allusions to British popular culture. Again during the second half
of the 1970s, a BBC Television series called
It Ain’t Arf Hot Mum
was about a hapless group of Second World War concert party soldiers
the role was played by a browned-up white actor, Simon Bates, who was
Asian actor was that no one good enough could be found.
however, some British Asian actors have more powerfully taken ownership
of the voice for satiric effect, dangerously but effectively creating comedy
The television series
suburb, poked fun at a family of nouveau riche Asians anxiously and
blatantly enquiring about the social status of their white celebrity guests
xiimf tsyioh tp ef�fdt tif fncbssbttnfot dbutfe cy “Unni,” tif dpnfey
hsboenptifs pmbyfe cy Mffsb Sybm bt tif iodpssihicmf boe ef�oitfmy
unassimilated Indian elder. Syal was one of the writers of the other
Goodness Gracious Me
fypmpsfe tif dpo�idt boe iotfhsbtipo cftxffo tsbeitipobm Ioeibo dumtusf
Indian perspective—the empire laughing back if you like.
parody of Asian speech, the “Goodness Gracious Me” cod Indian accent
Ioeibo epdtps io tif 1960 �mn
. When, last summer, that
voice reverberated round the foyers and auditorium of a Royal Shakespeare
Company (RSC) theatre the sound was a multi-layered composite of both
historic and insufferable patronage and subordination and, depending
po ypus pfstpfdtivf, ef�bot sfdmbnbtipo. Cfstbiomy tif pppumbs bppfbm
of Meera Syal who played Beatrice in this latest Indian
in part derived from the capacity to reclaim and then exploit the cultural
ttfsfptypf. Ifs iihi psp�mf xbt cfypoe epuct tif psiodipbm tfmmioh ppiot
LAIRE
Asian cast, could be regarded as a major symbolic event in the history
of mainstream British theatre. The children, or many times over great
grandchildren, of the empire that for so long were admitted only sporadically
tp tif piytidbm ifbst pg tif Bsititi Siblftpfbsf ioeuttsy ibe �obmmy cffo
invited to share in some of the spoils of the global domination of the
sixteenth-century Stratford-upon-Avon playwright that had been imposed
on their forefathers and foremothers two centuries earlier. On the face of
it (literally) the empire was given the opportunity to play back. Moreover,
unlike the African-heritage all black production of
that had
been staged earlier in the season by Gregory Doran, now the new artistic
was directed not by a white member
of the male theatre establishment, but by the British Pakistani Iqbal Khan.
Nisbk Cibh xiptf xpsl xfbvft tphftifs Ioeibo dmbttidbm io�ufodft xiti
rhythmically complex contemporary sounds, all of which could be heard
The nomenclature I am using in relation to the groups and individuals
Indian, Asian, British Asian and Indian heritage or African heritage.
have described as British Pakistani, Niraj Chag as of Indian
heritage. The reason is that the term “Asian” is immensely problematic,
a fact emphasized in Poonam Trivedi’s introduction to the collection of
: “Asia as an entity or concept
do not know if it is true that the term was a bureaucratic invention
pg Bsititi pg�dibmt io dpmpoibm Ebtt Agsidb io 1948 bt tify bttfnptfe tp
categorize the incoming migrants or descendants of migrants under their
But tif foe sftumt io tif UK dpotfyt ibt dfstbiomy cffo tp tsfbt
an extraordinarily diverse number of British citizens as one homogenous
lump—a phrase that Meera Syal herself used in an interview not long
Lft ut gpdut csif�y po Ircbm Kibo boe Nisbk Cibhit tp cfdpnf bxbsf
of the very different journeys that brought them to Stratford. Iqbal Khan
was born in Birmingham, the industrial city in the English midlands that
is also my home and birth place. His father migrated from Pakistan in
the 1960s and, if the standard pattern prevailed, his mother arrived after
his father had found a job. Khan has gone on record as saying his mother
xbt immitfsbtf tibt xbt opt uodpnnpo io tiptf �stt hfofsbtipo nihsbott
Many who came to the heavily industrialized
Birmingham in the 1960s came from the Mirpur district of Azad Kashmir
and were displaced because of the building of the Mangla Dam.
was born in Southampton, the port on the south coast of England. He has
tbie tibt iit pbsfott dbnf gspn Ioeib cut npsf tpfdi�dbmmy ibt efeidbtfe
b dpnpptitipo tp iit hsboenptifs xip nbef tif nihsbtipo tp tif UK
from India via Africa.
The chances are then that his Indian heritage has
been mediated through the mass exodus imposed on East African Asians
xifo tify dbnf tp Eohmboe gpmmpxioh fypumtipo gspn Uhboeb boe Kfoyb
in the late 1960s—a moment of extraordinary postcolonial complexity:
formerly colonized, newly-independent Black Africans pushing out of
“their” countries, the descendants of the Indian indentured labourers who
tp tfsvidf tif offet pg Enpisf io dpmpoibm Ebtt Agsidb. Wiimf io tif UK,
the former colonizers were increasingly appalled by the prospect of the
If I turn to the other actors in
it becomes clear that they too
have a complex relationship with “home.” Relatively few of them were
born in India. Paul Bhattacharjee played Benedict and was a distinguished
ttbhf boe �mn bdtps xip ibe psfviputmy pmbyfe mfbeioh spmft io SSC
productions including Shakespeare’s disputed play
a Russian Jewish-heritage mother.
Sharma who played Leonato and Ernest Ignatius who played Leonato’s
from South India—in the case of Sharma, from a Hindu Brahmin family
�gty yfbst bhp tp cf tsbiofe bt tif Spybm Adbefny pg Esbnbtid Ast.
Indeed I suspect Sharma would have been happy to audition for the 1976
RSC Dogberry. Meera Syal’s Hindu and Sikh Punjabi parents married in
Delhi but her father, who came to England to further his education, had
already endured an enforced migration from Lahore following the creation
of the new state of Pakistan. His daughter, however, was brought up in
a mining village not far from Birmingham in what’s known as the Black
Country and has written about the experience of being the only brown girl
Her natural
voice is unambiguously that of an English Midlander. The same can be said
kick Verges who grew up in another Midlands city, Coventry, although
ifs bdtps’t CV iodmueft tif bcimity tp tpfbl Gukbsbti, Puokbci boe Useu.
LAIRE
She was born in London of Sri Lankan parents who came to England from
Zambia where they had been almost certainly drawn to what, under British
rule, had been Northern Rhodesia and that post-independence welcomed
Sri Lankan professional expertise.
Robert Mountford, an unlikely name
for a British Asian, was brought up by adoptive parents in Birmingham
but is the product of Kashmiri/Irish parentage. To play Friar Francis who
became Panditji for the Hinduization of
“xpsl po bo ‘butifotid’ Ioeibo vpidf” tpnftiioh tibt tbtit�fe iit offe
not to resort to that cod comic accent.
wide spectrum of British Asianness which, as the report into the future of
I have not begun to expand on the complications of the Asian
presence in the former Caribbean colonies and how that has added to the
It could be argued that Shakespeare creates his imagined cities of
Venice, Vienna, Rome, Paris and so on, and modern directors often
make much of the conceptual possibilities of that imaginative relocation
ftpfdibmmy tispuhi tif tpfdi�d pfsipeizbtipo tibt iotspeudft tifnbtid
is updated to the 1930s in a grim anticipation of the Holocaust.
Jyotsna G. Singh pointed out in her essay “Wooing and Wedding,” written
the production in modern-day India made perfect sense for households
where servants are commonplace, arranged marriages still standard practice
and a preoccupation with male honour predicated on female chastity and
�efmity it ttimm b tpdiftbm opsn.
And, of course, if this is to be an all-Asian
tried to suggest, the relationship with both the city and indeed the country
as “home” territory is so complex. As the effect of individual histories was
smoothed out so too were other theatre histories that have been relegated
tp tif nbshiot. Uomilf, io tifpsy, tif “sfbm” boe, tiut, bppsppsibtfmy
fyptid Ioeibot tibt tif SSC eisfdtps Tin Suppmf cspuhit tp tif UK io
2006 to play in his celebrated multilingual production of
A Midsummer
that Poonam Trivedi has sharply interrogated,
Despite one
horrifying picture in the production programme of a facially mutilated
woman in Jaipur, the production lost the opportunity to probe deeper into
on the excess of physical comedy designed to create the overall feel-good
It is really only in the last six years or so that substantial efforts
have been made to research and document the history of British Asian
What has been marginalized in practice has also
been marginalized in the historical record. So when I say that on the
whole British Asian theatre-makers have steered clear of engaging with
Shakespeare, more research in grass roots regional activity in particular
might ultimately tell a somewhat more nuanced story. Also, of course,
all British Asians who train in British drama schools are introduced to
classical acting through the Western canon. However, I think I can say that
“Revisiting Shakespeare in Indian Literature and Culture,” conference
was designed to celebrate, the experience of exclusion from mainstream
British theatre has inevitably contributed to the tendency of British Asian
theatre companies to focus on issues of contemporary political or social
relevance to British Asian communities within a multicultural Britain
or, where classical texts have been inscribed or adapted, they have been
mainly drawn from the Indian-heritage canon. While, as postcolonials,
British Asian theatre-makers still combat the lingering effects of colonial
disdain or actual racism, it is understandable that Shakespeare, the British
playwright most associated with the dissemination and imposition of
imperial power through literary culture, might be the most obvious one to
avoid. Also more positively, well-established companies such as Tamasha
and Kali Theatre Company, which were both founded by women, devote a
lot of their energies to the development of new British Asian playwrights
and, especially in the case of Kali, of women playwrights.
28
The exception
to this is Tara Arts under their long-serving artistic director Jatinder Verma.
Tara Arts was the earliest, and remains the longest-surviving British
the murder of a Sikh teenager, Gurdeep Singh Chaggar, in South London in
Juof 1976—io b ipssicmf ispoy b dsinf pfspftsbtfe kutt bt tibt �stt Ioeibo
xbt pmbyioh io Stsbtgpse. Tif �stt bnbtfus Tbsb
production was an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s
Sbdsi�df
Visargan
in Tagore’s own English translation. The production was intended to offer
a humanist, allegorical or symbolic response to futile violence taken from
LAIRE
tif nptt eihoi�fe obnf io npefso Sputi Atibo esbnbtid mitfsbtusf boe
one that was already well known in Britain and, importantly, acceptable
to the largely conservative Asian audiences in the community centres
xifsf tif xpsl xbt �stt tipxo.
What was to evolve over the next
twenty years was an approach to theatre that very consciously engaged
of the British Asian migratory experience. Jatinder Verma describes
himself as an East African Hindu Punjabi who was born in Dar es Salaam
and arrived in Britain with his family in 1968, a matter of weeks before a
new British Immigration Act effectively slammed the door on more East
African Asian migrants claiming automatic rights of British citizenship.
In 1996 in an essay called “Cultural Transformations,” Verma pointed out
just how much migration from former British colonies had transformed
Britain. “Transformation,” he wrote, “is for me an existential fact, rather
tibo bo pckfdtivf sfbeioh pg pptt.xbs Bsititi sfbmitift.” Sf�fdtioh po tif
“translated man” literally borne across from Africa to Britain and through
his parents from India to Africa. Furthermore there is the sense that he
chooses to “bear across” his ideas and sensibility of theatre to another
dominant sensibility. His “culture” therefore is a rag-bag mixture of Indian,
of a distinctive theatre language dubbed “Binglish” that aimed to create a
British theatre company which, and I am quoting Verma again, “is not quite
Pof nbkps io�ufodf xbt tif ttuey pg tif
makeup and costume, and, in particular, the privileging of the physicality
Western theatre. Another vital component in Binglish was the inclusion
pg gsbhnfott pg Atibo mbohubhft opt inpptfe bsti�dibmmy po tif Biohmiti
performance text but arising naturally from the production process.
Because of the diversity of the migrant heritage, each actor had her or his
own individual histories of the acquisition of English that could result in
negotiations in several different languages in rehearsal—little of which
xfsf ifbse (utubmmy) pottbhf io tif �obm pspeudtipo. Mpsfpvfs tif Atibo,
English speaker will also naturally integrate native English expressions
particular to the area where she or he was born and brought up.
way of thinking about the British Asian linguistic experience, Binglish
sftppoefe tp xibt tif ppttdpmpoibm tifpsitt Bimm Atidspgt ibt iefoti�fe
It was 15 years before Tara took on Shakespeare with two relatively
modest experiments in cultural fusion with
in 1992 that
with Varis Shah’s eighteenth-century
Verma’s ambitious, intercultural and intertextually allusive adaptation
French and Anglo-Chinese actors referenced the horrors of both the war
in Bosnia and racism in East London. The simple tunic costumes blended
as arrogant “Western” pragmatists laying siege to the “Eastern” Trojans,
xpsf ibmg.nbtlt. Tif Ioeibo io�ufodf fytfoefe tp nutid, ebodf, nbstibm
arts and stamping sticks and, in the narration, the
sutradhar
from Sanskrit
twenty years on, that the production was “overloaded with ideas,” the
belief in the value of cultural difference—the loss of which appeared to
be represented by the defeat of Troy—continues to be a guiding principle
Arguably, the most radical Binglish inscription of Shakespeare emerged
in the 1997 production of
A Midsummer Night’s
Dream, the play that
has “translation” in the transformative sense at its heart. Produced in
collaboration with the large west London theatre, the Lyric, Hammersmith,
it subsequently toured and then was revived the following year with some
dbtt dibohft. Tif �stt eisfdtpsibm “vitipot pg tif esfbn” sfdpsefe io b
rehearsal journal Verma published in the production programme were of
upon by a diverse company of ‘Asian, African, Caribbean, Arab and
English’ performers.” Athens was like a modern Western city “‘airy’,
aloof, sans music, ‘tight’ in emotional expression, with a rigid code of
conduct and social hierarchy.” The forest, however, suggested “the ‘other
home’ that most migrants and their descendants carry in their heads; a
potpourri of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, as well as ‘olde Englande’.
Earthy, full of colour…carrying emotions on its sleeve.”
Tif �obm sftumt,
scenographically, was what the theatre critic Michael Billington described
as a “wild adventure playground, with climbing frames, long green pipes
boe guoofmt tp ioeidbtf nptty cbolt, boe upfoefe, vfstidbm �ppscpbset tp
As has been standard practice in Tara productions, the
ensemble of actors was small—just nine actors each doubling and even
tripling roles. The South African-born actor Vincent Ebrahim, partnered
in 1997 by the black singer-actor Pauline Black, and then in 1998 by the
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Anglo-Indian Shelley King, undertook what is now the conventional
doubling of Theseus/Oberon and Hippolyta/Titania. Much less usually,
the “mechanicals,” and all at some points played fairies. The exceptions
were Puck (David Baker in 1997/Antony Bunsee in 1998) who as a
trickster “messenger of the gods” operated outside the core characters,
and Bottom
(Nizwar Karanj throughout) whose “dream” began and
ended the play. The contemporary verbal diversity of Binglish became
spoken by the Athenian workmen.
It was a strategy that at its best reinforced Shakespeare’s dramaturgy of
separate worlds united by imagination. Certainly the imaginative capacity
of the audience was challenged producing, especially in 1997, a sharply-
divided critical response. For those that engaged positively with the
concept, however, the atmosphere of airy playfulness was both enjoyable
and appropriate for the comic heart of the play. What the reviewers singled
put iodmuefe Pcfspo boe Pudl pbiotioh nbhid �pxfst po Titboib’t gfft
mpvfst xfsf �hitioh boe io pof fytsbpseiobsy npnfot Bpttpn io bo btt’t
head of stylized ears and cords appeared on roller skates. Musically there
When in 2005 Verma turned his attention to
pg vfsy tpfdi�d dumtusbm pbsbmmfmt xiti Ioeibo iittpsy cfgpsf tif Bsititi
colonial rule. This time the starting point was a reimagining of Venice that
now became sixteenth-century Cochin in Kerala. As Verma explained in
the production programme: “Not unlike Shakespeare’s London, the port-
city of Cochin was also a thriving trading place with dynamic communities
pg Cisittibot boe Jfxt tphftifs xiti tif dsptt dumtusbm io�ufodft tibt
The production programme
printed two parallel time lines comparing the history of the Jews in England
1663 when the Portuguese colonizers were virulently anti-Jewish, Hindu,
Muslim and non-Catholic Christians. In 1560, under the newly-established
Tif Tbsb Cpnpboy pg kutt �vf bdtpst cfdbnf b tspupf pg Ioeibo
performers converted to Christianity and presenting the play accompanied
by music composed by the Keralan classically-trained V. Chandran
century Western elements. This decision was drawn from research that
suggested that as a mark of Portuguese favour Indian converts could wear
Eusppfbo esftt tibt tuctfrufotmy boe xiti nudi.npei�dbtipo fvpmvfe
For the acting
ensemble, the doubling and, in the case of Robert Mountford who played
Bassanio, Arragon, Morocco and Laucelot Gobbo, and Elena Pavli who
was a way of pointing up apparent oppositions: “opportunistic Venice
versus idyllic Belmont, Christian versus Jew, Mercy versus Revenge,
Tisigt vfstut Psp�ihbdy, Lihit vfstut Ebsloftt.”
Antony Bunsee played
Shylock and Gratiano. Shylock the Jew loves his daughter Jessica; Gratiano
the Christian loves Nerissa but both are equally intolerant of each other.
The actors embodied the contradictions as they switched characters. A
simple empty picture frame enabled the physical opposition of different
values within a kind of liminal space and became symbolically the “ring”
The other major theme was of conversion. Shylock is forced into
remain unburnt. Jessica converts herself for love but remained disturbed
boe bmxbyt tif “io�efm” puttiefs xitiio tif “ieymmid” Bfmnpot pg tif pmby
world As the troupe of actor-converts reached the “happy” ending, the
“reality” of what was being played out brought breakdown and distress.
It was this further reality that brought the permanent state of outsiderness
Witi tif sitf pg nimitbot Itmbn pptt 9/11 boe, io tif UK dpotfyt io
particular, after the July 2007 London bombings the translated Asian-
The Merchant of
the “most widely and controversially linked to issues of colonialism
went very bravely (and controversially) for absolutely
broadly Muslim-Mediterranean world with Muslim-referenced music
and costuming. Most strikingly, Miranda wore a hijab with a light face
Verma
as essentially a man obsessed with vengeance: “a man who commits
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terror, literally unleashes a storm.” As Verma explained in his programme
note, in Shakespeare’s own time the prototype magician was Marlowe’s
Faustus. But in 2008 there were other examples of “intelligent men
and women who will create and support terrible ends to revenge perceived
hurt.” Prospero was analogous to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the surgeon who
trained doctor who tried to blow up a London club and drove a burning
jeep into Glasgow airport.
Hard-won knowledge put to evil ends. Robert
was impatient, irritable and controlling of his
daughter in the standard manner of the stereotypical Muslim male. When
Miranda declared her love for Ferdinand pulling aside her veil became a
The design concept focused on the physical constraints on the island—
tibt fvfsypof it dpo�ofe: gspn tif fyimfe Psptpfsp boe Misboeb, tp tif
enslaved Caliban and Ariel, and the captured ship’s passengers. As Claudia
Mayer put it: “No one is at home in The Tempest: the island is a place of
The set created a cell-like, boarded-up bunker of sloping walls dominated
effect of a tempest-tossed ship, bondage, rigging tents, look-out posts and
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so on. Large screens enabled projected images of faces—especially of the
As usual the cast doubled roles: Mountford played Trinculo as
well as Prospero using his “native” Birmingham accent for comic
effect that was in sharp contrast to the impeccable “standard” English
voice of Prospero; the black African-heritage actor Chris Jack played
Ferdinand and Sebastian to the white Miranda and Alonzo of Jessica
Manley. In what was probably the most interesting double, the black
actor Keith Thorne who played Caliban, also played Gonzalo giving
an unusually rich intercultural resonance to Gonzalo’s utopian vision
of the commonwealth
that Shakespeare took from Montaigne’s essay
“On the Cannibals.”
The Sunday
this was: “a mixed-race, cross-gender production that brings out
the play’s political point—oppression, cruelty and greed are not the
Caroline Kilpatrick, the one actor who did not
double, played Ariel as moody and strong banging her head on the wall
boe xffpioh bt tif pbio io�idtfe cy Psptpfsp’t bdtipot. A tipuhitgum
[T]he whiteness of Caroline Kilpatrick’s skin and costume visually contrasts
with Mountford’s in an inversion of the normalized racial identities of
colonizer and colonized, highlighting Ariel’s vulnerability as a woman
in a complex exploration of the structures of colonial and sexual power
Inevitably the Islamic signifiers created controversy and at least one group
of spectators took offence at what appeared to be a reductive appropriation
Mountford’s Prospero may have begun the play
as the standard “heavy” Muslim father and vengeful militant, albeit one
whose voice belied the aural caricature I explored at the beginning of this
essay. By the end of the production, however, the political analogy had
shifted to the renunciation of violence in the example of another doctor,
al-Zawahiri’s close associate, Said Iman al-Sharif, for whom imprisonment
led to recantation of terror as a means of salvation. As Verma points out,
it is the not-human Ariel who “offers a glimpse into what it means to be
While Michael Billington in his review observed that Prospero’s
acceptance of Caliban, “this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine,”
’s “humane exploration of the most
In an interview with Christiane Schote recorded in 2003 at the height
of the Iraq crisis, Verma addressed “the reality of cross-culturalism” and
his own position as a migrant who is both an outsider and an insider within
We can’t paper over these differences. These are differences in outlook,
of diplomacy. That’s the domain we exist in. I don’t think there is such a
thing as a universal. I think there are only particularities which are based
on where you are born, which kind of language you speak, which give you
a certain outlook on the world…And that’s what to me is exciting about
to see difference squarely in the face and then see, is there a connection
Where Verma’s journey with Shakespeare will take Tara Arts next is by
no means certain although in June 2013 there was talk of a
that is to be unveiled. The veil, which in Christian and Muslim culture can
serve both as a means of female restraint
until 15 September 2012 before a short season at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
Sylvia Morris, “Round the globe with Much Ado About Nothing”
Shakespeare blog
(blog). 6 August 2012, accessed 30 July 2015. http://theshakespeareblog.com/2012/08/
For an account of the 1976 RSC production see Pamela Mason,
(London: Macmillan Education, 1992); also William Shakespeare.
The Kumars at No. 42 (2001–06),
BBC Home Page, Comedy, “Goodness Gracious Me,” accessed 17 July 2013, http://
www.imdb.com/title/tt0081878/http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0300792/http://www.bbc.
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6.
Meera Syal went to play Shakespeare in Stratford at the invitation of Michael Boyd, the
then artistic director of the RSC. It was she who suggested Iqbal Khan as the director
Much Ado About Nothing
. Meera Syal in a public interview with Claire Cochrane,
produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and directed by Gregory
Doran played at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon from 28 May
8.
Replaying
Shakespeare in Asia
, ed. Poonam Trivedi and Minami Ryuta (New York: Routledge,
9.
11.
Birmingham Post
12.
Claire Cochrane, “Engaging the Audience: A Comparative Analysis of Developmental
Strategies in Birmingham and Leicester since the 1990s,” in
Critical Essays on British
, fe. Gsbibn Lfy boe Sbsbi Ebetxfmm (Eyftfs: Eyftfs Uoivfstity
13.
Tragically Paul Bhattacharjee was found dead on 12 July 2013 following a formal
declaration of bankruptcy. His obituary was published in the
newspaper on
15.
Owen, 2012.
Bharti Patel,
27 April 2012, accessed 14 August 2013,
Andrew Davies, “Culture: Rob’s Career off to a Flying Start; Rob Mountford has
Already Starred in a top Television Drama and Trod the Boards with the RSC—and
he’s barely been out of Drama School Two Years. Andrew Davies Caught up with
the Birmingham-born Actor En Route to Beijing.”
Birmingham Post
11 June 2002,
B. C. Parekh,
For example Orson Welles’ 1937 Mercury Theatre modern-dress production of
referenced Mussolini’s Rome; In 1975 at the Greenwich Theatre in London
in Freud’s Vienna; In 1999 Trevor Nunn’s
National Theatre production of
The Merchant of Venice
23.
24.
Poonam Trivedi, “Shakespeare and the Indian Image(nary): Embod(y)ment in versions
, ed. Poonam
25.
As Iqbal Khan, himself said at a keynote speech given at the BBA Shakespeare
tynpptiun ifme bt Wbsxidl Uoivfstity po 2 Jumy 2013, bcput txfmvf pg tif
About Nothing
dbtt xfsf sfhbsefe bt “eig�dumt” Atibo bdtpst, i.f., tifis psfviput xpsl
had been associated with radical political theatre and there were some tensions about
Michael Billington, “Much Ado About Nothing-Review,” Rev. of
directed by Iqbal Khan for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Courtyard
Theatre, Stratford-on-Avon
2 August 2012, accessed 3 March 2013, http://
Since 2006 there have been a number of publications addressing the history of Black
British and British Asian theatre. These include Dimple Godiwala, ed.
(Newcastle: Cambridge
British South Asian
Theatre A Documented History
(Eyftfs: Eyftfs Uoivfstity Psftt, 2011); Gsbibn Lfy
and Sarah Dadswell, eds.
Critical Essays on British South Asian Theatre
(Exeter: Exeter
Uoivfstity Psftt, 2012) boe Epnioid Iiohpsboi.
Ley and Dadswell, eds.
Ley and Dadswell, eds.
Jatinder Verma, “Cultural Transformations,” in
Contemporary British Theatre,
31.
Alternatives within the Mainstream: British
, ed. Dimple Godiwala (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press,
32.
Additional comments from Jatinder Verma are based on two personal interviews
dpoeudtfe cy tif butips bt tif Tbsb Astt Cfotsf io Ebsmt�fme, Lpoepo po 20 Ffcsubsy
productions selected for this essay is drawn from archival research. As an audience
member I saw only the 1998 revival of
Bimm Atidspgt, Gbsfti Gsig�tit boe Ifmfo Tig�o, fet.
The Empire Writes Back: Theory
come from clippings of reviews held
Jatinder Verma, “A Chronology for Shakespeare’s
36.
Michael Billington, “Cuts to the heart,” Rev. of
, directed
by Jatinder Verma for Tara Arts, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London
37.
Billington, “Cuts to the heart”; Meera Syal. “Global Vision’s Good Medicine,”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
38.
Hardeep Kohli, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lyric Hammersmith, London,” Rev. of
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
, directed by Jatinder Verma for Tara Arts, Lyric Theatre,
Ania Loomba’s chapter “Religion, Money and Race in The Merchant of Venice”
that tells the story of
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(Pygpse: Pygpse Uoivfstity Psftt, 2002),
Jatinder Verma, interview with the author 20 February 2013.
Jatinder Verma, “The Merchant of Venice.” Programme for
Claudia Mayer, “Notes on Design.” Programme for
Jatinder Verma, “Director’s Vision.” Programme for
45.
directed by Jatinder Verma
Claudia Mayer, “Notes on Design.” Programme for
Michel de Montaigne, “On the Cannibals,” trans. and ed. M.A. Screech,
50.
Shelly Baker, Katherine Evans, Lauren K. Monaghan-Pisano, Karwir Nam, and Rachael
Williams, “Review of Shakespeare’s
Tara Arts) at the Arts Theatre, London, January 2008,”
As reported by Jyotsna G. Singh in the general discussion that followed the keynote
lecture given at the “Revisiting Shakespeare in Indian Literature and Culture” on 8
Verma, “Director’s Vision.”
Michael Billington, “The Tempest, Arts Theatre,” Rev. of
Verma, “Director’s Vision.”
Christine Schlote, “‘Finding our Own Voice’ An Interview with Jatinder Verma” in
Staging New Britain Aspects of Black and South Asian British Theatre Practice
As this essay goes to press in 2015 there has been another Tara Arts Shakespeare:
directed by Jatinder Verma and with Robert Mountford in the title role. Verma
as “one of the stereotypical perceived virtues of Asians” that the murder of Duncan,
“has more resonance as patricide rather than regicide.” Most radically the witches were
transgenders legally recognized only in India and Germany. Jatinder Verma, “Director’s
This essay looks at Indian Shakespeare productions in
the World
I aim to
give an intercultural perspective, using both first-hand and secondary
accounts of three different Shakespeare plays that were translated into
Indian contexts and/or languages and performed for the global festival:
In
examining these Indian Shakespeare productions, the essay problematizes
has adopted Shakespeare. The essay argues that the term “global” is
relationship that
involves interaction and negotiation on multiple levels.
The variables
involved here include not only geographical and historical distance, and
Indian Shakespeare productions, in Hindi, Gujarati or English, successfully
fused not only languages and literature but also cultures, unifying their
The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) ran from April through
November 2012. The festival was a major part of the four-year Cultural
Olympiad that accompanied the London Olympic Games and it comprised
multiple celebrations that culminated during the 2012 Olympics. The
WSF took place at venues throughout the UK. The festival foregrounded
UCKLEY
foreign and intercultural Shakespeare including: international touring
The Arts Council England website terms the festival “the biggest
celebration of Shakespeare ever staged.”
The website states that the WSF
was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in collaboration
with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and eminent UK and international arts
pshboizbtipot. Tif titf hivft �husft tibt ioeidbtf hmpcbm pbstidipbtipo io
the world” that took part in “almost 70 productions, plus supporting
events and exhibitions, right across the UK, including London, Stratford-
upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Wales and Scotland
and online.”
gspn fmfdtspoid nfeib tp mpdbm Lpoepo �yfst. Tif tuddftt pg tiit dbo cf
gauged by audience testimony in recordings and in reviews on websites
all of which indicate that on the whole the
WSF plays were attended by both national and international audiences,
including the Indian diaspora. The Globe Theatre alone, which had targeted
its multicultural London diaspora, recorded 75 per cent new audiences.
traditionally celebrated as Shakespeare’s birthday, a symbolic date that
As part of the WSF, major Shakespearean theatres in the UK joined
forces with theatre companies from around the world including two
from India—Arpana and Company Theatres. Shakespeare’s Globe
Theatre in London held the 2012 “Globe to Globe” festival, staging 37
of Shakespeare’s works as presented by troupes from different countries
in Stratford-Upon-Avon in collaboration with Mexican, American and
Russian theatres, alongside its own season titled “What Country Friends
Is This?” that showcased selected Shakespeare plays highlighting global
exploration and sea voyages. In addition to these, the RSC held its own
and also hosted visiting companies from Brazil and Iraq to perform
Of the three Indian Shakespeare WSF productions under discussion
here, two were performed at the Globe Theatre by visiting Mumbai
theatre troupes: Company Theatre, with
Piya Behrupiya
).
on
23 and 24 May. The third of these productions, the Delhi-set
Much
Ado About Nothing
performed by an Indo-UK cast
at the Royal
Shakespeare Company’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-Upon Avon
from 26 July–15 September; it then toured at London’s Noel Coward
Theatre from 24 September–27 October.
In comparing and contrasting
the approaches taken by these three Indian Shakespeare productions, this
eitduttipo esbxt po �stt.pfstpo fviefodf, iodmueioh sfdpsefe bddpuott
of attendance at the plays as well as accounts of those involved and
director interviews.
programme, the RSC’s outgoing
Artistic Director Michael Boyd and Executive Director Vikki Heywood
playwright and artist of the whole world.”
During the WSF, the RSC
and Globe Theatres were both similarly careful to situate the relationship
this shared intercultural appreciation of Shakespeare is the fact that
India’s relationship with the playwright has arguably moved beyond
the postcolonial; it is no longer mediated through Britain. In an article
as part of its special WSF series, entitled “Why
Shakespeare is…Indian,” Poonam Trivedi mused, “Though colonialism
brought him to the subcontinent, Shakespeare has been utterly absorbed
Shakespeare has long been assimilated culturally by India’s major
bstittt. Ao fybnpmf it tif ppfoioh obssbtipo pg tif Iioei �mn
1982 adaptation of
cy tif optfe mysiditt boe �mn
eisfdtps Gumzbs. At tif �mn’t cfhiooioh, iotspeudioh Siblftpfbsf bt b
nationality but even represents him in live portrait form, posed by an
at the closing and winks, as if in a sly nod to this inside joke. This same
naturalization of the formerly English Bard was at work when I interviewed
Twelfth Night
director and National Award winning actor Atul Kumar at
the Globe Theatre before the evening performance. When asked, “Why
Shakespeare?” he animatedly responded, “Shakespeare has been done
playwright as much as he is anyone else’s in the world [because]…he talks
UCKLEY
While the plot of Kumar’s
generally stuck to the play’s
original Shakespearean storyline, the Hindi translation, prepared by
and dance. As in the rest of the Globe to Globe plays, there were English
subtitles, which were consigned to intermittently summarizing the plot
Kumar told reviewer Aradhna Wal.
“The place is still Illyria; the characters are Orsino, Viola and Olivia. But
Times of India
Purvaja Sawant felt that the actors made the most of the latent possibilities
in different local dialects to portray their own individuality, writing that
and comical effect, what elevates the show are the various Indian accents
by the characters.”
Kumar himself expressed to Shai Hussain that it was
“great to do Shakespeare in an Indian accent, and show that there’s actually
an enormous muscularity, clarity and musicality in doing it that way.”
Actor Geetanjali Kulkarni (Viola) echoed Kumar’s emphasis on language,
explaining to Saumya Ancheri, “We’ve maintained the Shakespearean
atmosphere, but we’ve used colloquial words. Amitosh [the translator]
cfmpoht tp Puokbc, tp tif �bvpus pg
truckwaali bhasha
[truck-driver’s
language] is there.”
This colloquial translation was arguably meant to
Smith called “populist Shakespeare,”
recalling “I was assured by the
Hindi-speaking woman sitting next to me that the translation ‘is a modern
prose version which is accessible for people who wouldn’t normally
come to the theatre.’”
Thus, Duke Orsino (Sagar Deshmukh) opened
the play with “
Ishq ke khurak hai agar gana—bajana to bajate raho
(If music be the food of love, play on [1.1.1]).
Literal translation was a
Gmpcf dpoeitipo; iotfoeioh tp foibodf tif hmpcbm �bvpus pg itt pggfsioht,
the theatre had mandated that these visiting productions remain straight
Kumar’s play negotiated this distinction loosely; Wal noted, “as the
nboofsitnt boe dpttunft fdip Ioeibo ifbstmboet, pof xpoefst ipx �of
himself what happens when Shakespeare’s plays are adapted into another
culture, he offered a frank view that transcended such quibbles: “He
doesn’t feel like [we are] doing an adaptation.”
straightforwardness towards Shakespeare is a contemporary attitude,
Shakespeare. There is no longer the need to “adapt,” rather they can make
bold to “play” around with Shakespeare’s text, with what was once the
This boldness was visible as Kumar explained that he had chosen
simply as it had been the most appealing play of several that the
Globe had suggested, in an uncomplicated decision: “I didn’t want to pick
up a tragedy—I’d just done
He added with a wry grin,
“I’ve never done a musical before,”
indicating the irony of a situation
Comparisons to Bollywood became inevitable. Kumar elaborated on
his inspiration behind the play’s Indian context, telling
Guardian
reviewer
[W]e felt there had to be a lot of singing and dancing and music. The play
is full of sex and love, fights, high passion and high drama, so we have to
respond to that […] We’ve come up with a kind of musical. Almost like
Kumar’s resulting
exploited the rich seams of India’s
musical heritage, featuring 18 songs. Composer Gagan Dev Riar (who
also played Sir Toby Belch) described the process, telling Wal: “We’ve
taken music from different regions in India. We’ve changed lyrics to
explain situations, and for some scenes we composed our own songs.”
Actor Mantra Mugdh (Sir Andrew Aguecheek) added that “for one song
This production privileged comedy, heightening
this by playing down the play’s more sober aspects; for example, it
over-exaggerated Olivia’s (Mansi Multani) songs of lament and omitted
Malvolio’s (Saurabh Nayyar) suffering. With its emphasis on dance, the
hierarchies in the original, here almost all characters appear at par in
their social standing as they quite literally jostle their shoulders with
each other.”
This subversive comic trend was perhaps best epitomized
by the show’s finale: while the newlyweds tenderly bestowed plastic
wedding garlands on each other in the best Bollywood-comic-resolution
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style, Malvolio exaggeratedly searched the audience for a life partner
and, finding none his equal, cheerfully garlanded himself.
He succeeded
in bringing down the house, including both its
audience and guest
Sudi iunpsput npnfott offefe op tsbotmbtipo. Ipxfvfs, ef�oioh tif
“Indian” aspect of these productions was arguably complicated, especially
in the case of those that were tailored for international touring; the concept
pg “Ioeib” ittfmg it bmsfbey tug�difotmy ofcumput. Tif beeitipo ifsf pg b
mixed native-foreign-diasporic audience, and even a diasporic cast and
, not only complicated an intercultural
sfmbtipotiip cut bmtp sitlfe dsfbtioh bo fyptidizfe boe bsti�dibmizfe
representation of the same. For example, in the case of the Globe to
Globe productions, visiting companies were given particular guidelines,
as Globe to Globe director Tom Bird explained.
the Globe Theatre’s preferred staging practices, including natural sound
boe mihitioh; dpnpboift xfsf tpfdi�dbmmy sfrufttfe opt tp utf Eohmiti
Twelfth Night
director Atul Kumar expressed to Andrew Dickson at the
time that “the one thing that is making him worry is the Globe’s stipulation
—a simplistic guideline, Dickson pointed
out, “that takes little account of how in India language itself has become
globalized, along with so much else.”
All’s Well
director Shanbag told
Draupadi Rohera that in reworking the play for both India and the UK he
had to prepare two different versions, not because of the cultural differences
Therefore, in some cases the Globe’s regulations actually detracted from
In discussing the intercultural nature of Indian Shakespeare, Mark
Indian representations [of legends] and forms.”
be extended to further suggest that the relationship involves Shakespeare
usurpation rather than an absorption—a cultural substitution that goes
beyond linguistic translation. Alexa Huang, for example, termed it “textual
when Nayyar’s yellow spandex tights replaced Malvolio’s
original cross-garters. This permeability is arguably the trend for twenty-
�stt.dfotusy Ioeibo pspeudtipot tibt sfvitit Siblftpfbsf—cfypoe bo
adaptation or appropriation, they are an internalization or an intercultural
Trivedi puts it (paraphrasing literary critic Mário de Andrade’s translation
Shakespeare is no longer the other, but exists as absorbed into the cultural
imaginary of the nation, the result of a process where […] the original
has to be “devoured” for the colonized to break free, and where the act of
Nayyar’s self-garlanding, again, was a prime example of this cannibalization,
in being both a violation of and an homage to the original, and it was a
In digesting and reconstituting Shakespeare, thus, the ultimate creative
product often transcends an easy external categorization. Discussing
festival productions of intercultural Shakespeare, in her essay “What
Country, Friends, is This?” Huang critiques the term “binary,” frequently
Huang points out that directors of touring Asian Shakespeare productions
“often emphasize their own cultural contexts rather than the binary modes
This concept of one’s “own” Shakespeare was expressed
translation of Shakespeare—ever!”
he confessed to Ancheri. “We have
taken it out of its context and played around with it and made it our own.”
The same concept of naturalizing Shakespeare was reiterated by Sunil
who told Dickson, “We’ll be performing in the spirit of the play, but we’ve
made it our own. That’s where your critics may be a bit surprised—how
many people have made Shakespeare their own.”
Although the Globe to
Globe’s printed materials displayed the tagline “Shakespeare’s Coming
Shanbag’s comment singled out the local amongst the global,
while simultaneously dismissing any assumptions of the Bard’s continued
Twelfth Night
, Shanbag’s production of
All’s Well
employed live
Indian song and dance as narrative devices, in the style of the indigenous
“originally catered for an audience of daily wage labourers in the 19th
Tif eisfdtps tpme sfvifxfs Zbgsi Np�m tibt tif pmby xbt opt
psihiobmmy iit �stt dipidf, cut tibt “bmtipuhi
layers and was easily adaptable to an Indian context.”
Translated by Mihir
UCKLEY
Bhuta and presented by Arpana Theatre, this
All’s Well
“tif �stt Siblftpfbsf dpnpmftfmy io Gukbsbti tp fvfs pmby io tif UK.”
Shanbag added that Globe to Globe Festival Director Tom Bird had
originally invited him to direct a play in the Gujarati language “because
of the large Gujarati-speaking population in and around London.”
had explained during the Intercultural Symposium that the Globe to Globe
festival was primarily designed to involve local diasporic audiences in
tifsfgpsf, milf Kunbs’t �stt Iioei Siblftpfbsf pggfsioh (xiidi difflimy
had also incorporated Punjabi, Urdu and Hinglish), this production abroad
xbt bppbsfotmy bmtp Sibocbh’t �stt tinf tp xpsl io Siblftpfbsf io b
Shanbag’s version privileged the world of class status and business,
India and reframing the original war as one of international trade. As
Sibocbh eftdsicfe tiit dumtusbm tsbotpptitipo tp Np�m, “Wf’vf tft it
in small town Saurashtra, which then moves to Mumbai in 1900, and
then Rangoon. The nobility of the original has been replaced with the
The director elaborated to Rohera,
pmby ibe tp sf�fdt tif esfbnt, pbttipot, boyiftift pg b dmfbsmy ef�ofe
In Shanbag’s version, Heli/Helena (Mansi
Vora) hand in marriage after curing merchant prince Gokuldas (Utkarsh
Mazumdar) of tuberculosis. “This same character, we have been told to
sizeable laughs from the crowd, didn’t think much of English medicine”
UK reviewer Matt Wolf noted wryly, observing the intercultural in-jokes
lost in translation. While the heroine Heli showed off impressive vocals,
Wolf was also struck by this
All’s Well
’s indigenous “musical soundscape
one that included
. Tif tihoi�dbodf
of this soundscape was noted by the audience, including Sarah Olive:
“What was markedly different and regional about this performance
was the way in which song, dance and gesture punctuated the action
[…] to do much of the storytelling work […] as a fusion of Eastern
In lieu of a universally comprehensible text,
Shanbag’s production thus successfully showcased theatre arts to tell
its intercultural story.
This cultural fusion was most evident in the RSC’s 2012 adaptation of
director Iqbal Khan and performed by an Asian heritage cast that was
mostly second generation British. The RSC had not put on an “Indian”
Much Ado
nineteenth-century Indian garrison town under the British Raj, with
few Indian heritage actors, according to the programme notes.
54
In a
contemporary “Indianization,” explaining that the former RSC Artistic
Director Michael Boyd “had also seen my work and thought I was a
hppe �t. Npof pg tibt xbt bcput ut cfioh Atibo—it xbt gps tif Wpsme
Shakespeare Festival, and as soon as Michael mentioned setting it in India,
my heart sank.”
He elaborated, “The exotic is anathema…Shakespeare
should be contemporary, […] urgent. I thought the modern was much more
relevant for India.”
Pbst pg tif dibmmfohf io ef�oioh “npefso Ioeib,” mft
multicultural; this challenge is in turn symptomatic of many centres that
produce Asian Shakespeare, as the region is by nature intracultural as
Ebdi pg tif eisfdtpst ef�oft dpotfnppsbsy Ioeib io iit ps ifs pxo xby:
award-winning actor-director Kumar, whose recent Indian-origin play
was written and performed in multiple languages
Ioeibo tifbtsf—io�ufodft gspn bmm tpstt pg pmbdft, tsbeitipobm bt xfmm bt
hfphsbpiidbm io�ufodft tp tif gsffioh pg Atibo Siblftpfbsft gspn bsti�dibm
cultural origins of intercultural productions because they work against
bttunptipot bcput ppmitidbmmy ef
ofe hfphsbpiift […] bsti�dibm dpottsbiott
tuppptfemy “Ioeibo” dumtusf xbt mfgt uoef�ofe fvfo io b hmpxioh tsicutf
uttered by British Asian TV comedy star and leading lady Meera Syal
(Beatrice): “Being able to explore this amazing play through our own
cultural lens has been so rewarding and illuminating, and, we hope, made
the story sing with new relevance.”
In order to elaborate on to whom or to
what Shakespeare’s plays should be newly relevant, it has perhaps become
quote Jyotsna Singh’s piece in the RSC programme, titled “Wooing and
UCKLEY
She writes that in the production, “early modern Messina
is transposed to contemporary Delhi in a way that richly illuminates and
transforms the idioms of
both
worlds. Contemporary India, like early
modern England, is a society in transition, with shifting realignments
This intercontinental parallel
The more seriously I thought about the themes of the play—chastity and
pure blood lines, the rituals of courtship, the arrangements of marriage—I
realised all of those things are incredibly vital in India.[…] Delhi is about
In his pre-show talk, Khan shared Singh’s emphasis on the transitional
India, itself authentically complex in that “the ancient and
modern sit side by side, spirituality and technology, gender roles are
complicated. Even women who challenge these have codes of hundreds
of years of tradition.”
64
While
Khan’s production portrayed
typical
fathers and daughters, it
also
emphasised the
latent in
a necessary challenge
renegotiation.
the Shakespearean (largely prose) text could be left largely untampered
with and still sound realistic. The main textual deviations were substitutes
such as “Delhi” for “Messina” and “temple” instead of “church,” in
several instances. Among the Indian WSF productions,
Much Ado
most
sftfncmfe npefso.eby Ioeib io bmm itt io�oitf vbsifty, tif duttioh fehf
juxtaposed with the conservative. Here one saw many more familiar
tihoi�fst pg Ioeib’t pohpioh hmpcbmizbtipo tibo io tif Gmpcf tp Gmpcf
productions. Indian-accented English traded places with Hinglish; while
the ubiquitous television was missing, mobile phones were used for
compositions fused classical and contemporary instruments and rhythms.
, India and the
UK had still uneasily coexisted in places: “a (largely gentle) collision of
Ebtt nfftt Wftt nby ibvf cffo fvplfe cy […] tif xby Bibsbtsbn’t put�t
Here,
Wfttfso put�tt boe tihoi�fst—tbsit, T.tiistt, cbtispcft boe ibis.sfnpvbm
cream. While much was made of the distinguished peacekeeping fatigues
distinction by the late Paul Bhattacharjee), an equally memorable joke
revolved around the lover’s plastic home-grown comfort Bata chappal-
type sandals, at one point jokingly slapped by his friends in the direction
Eftpitf tif butifotidity pg itt Efmii tfttioh, bsti�dibmmy ifihitfofe
exoticization was still involved in the
Much Ado
production. For example,
withdrew to reveal a cremation ground and monsoon rain, was devoid of
foyer, papered with Hindi magazines, was hung with lights and bicycles
and sported a gleaming central tuk-tuk, draped with plastic garlands.
The entering audience was further treated to the smell of freshly-made
s for sale, the sight of rows of glittering bangles (also ready for
cbdlespp pg cmbsioh tsbg�d ipsot tp hfouiof tify ioeudfe ipnftidloftt.
An online trailer for the production featured clips of the show and its
opening music intercut with scenes from the city of Delhi, apparently to
for other “intercultural” RSC adaptations of the decade, such as Artistic
or the
Indian diasporic audiences, such as one memorable self-described Punjabi
men’s club on an excited outing, who lit up the theatre foyer en masse
Several reviewers critiqued the production’s content and choices as too
simplistic, as opening the subject but then leaving them wanting more.
richly featured elements
issues regarding the intercultural mingling of these elements including
what they might have told us “about Shakespeare’s play and about Indian
Rumbold also argued in favour of complicating the nature of
this shared Indo-UK heritage, hinting at latent controversy in the choice
of second-generation British Asian actors to represent postcolonial Indian
culture and concluding that it was likely that in the “hyper-global context of
the World Shakespeare Festival […] the internationalism of the play came
under new scrutiny.”
Perhaps in comparison the “native” Indian cast of
UCKLEY
Tp tun up, Ioeibo Siblftpfbsf sftittt fbty ef�oitipo. Kunbs pioppiotfe
Everyone kept saying, “You just spent three years in Kerala; we didn’t
see anything [in your work] to do with Kathakali or Kalari [Keralan art
into me; obviously the essence went into my
] It was a Western
Similarly, our cultures resist surface-level evaluation: nowadays, should an
Indian Beatrice wearing a T-shirt be judged as any less valid of a cultural
These UK-India festive Shakespeares left an immediate intercultural
legacy. After the WSF, Atul Kumar had remarked to Ancheri, “We cannot
stop humming the songs of the play—including my 6-year-old daughter
xip it opx io tif pmby—boe ippf xf dbo mfbvf pus bueifodft �mmfe xiti
our music for days to come.”
Atul Kumar might have brought his show
cffo ioef�obcmy boe sfdipspdbmmy xpvfo iotp tif pspeudtipo. At if tpme
the smell of beer in the yard, the groundlings [audience in the pit] waving
screaming laughing clapping dancing along with the songs of the play,
standing ovation, backstage warmth of heaters and freezing cold of London,
existing, longstanding relationship with the Globe space and its presiding
playwright. She said that she had told her husband as they watched a play
at the theatre seven years previously “that this is an actor’s stage and
averring “I feel Shakespeare baba listened to
For my own part, as an audience member,
cultures merged when I was able to share the WSF productions, while
briefly available online as full recordings, all the way from the UK with
my American family living in India. The website was simply called
a truly global site transcending time zones and geography, in
If the 2012 Olympics were intended to unite the world’s people in a
shared love of sport, the concurrent Cultural Olympiad succeeded through
an experience transcending linguistic and cultural distinctions. In our
shrinking world this love of Shakespeare could be argued to grow with
each revisitation of his genius and through each creative mind that gives
“2012 marks the World Shakespeare Festival and a new RSC artistic director,”
Council England
, accessed 5 July 2013, https://web.archive.org/web/20130609181248/
2.
“2012 marks the World Shakespeare Festival.”
4.
Tom Bird, presentation at the Intercultural Symposium, London, 18–19 May 2012.
5.
At this time, the RSC also had an ongoing amateur “Open Stages” festival that
included a one night performance in July of
Baba Shakespeare
b sfnblf pg tif �mn
Shakespeare Wallah
directed by Emmeline Winterbotham with an Anglo-Indian cast.
Tiit pspeudtipo it pnittfe io tif eitduttipo ifsf tiodf it it bo bebptbtipo pg b �mn,
Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood, “Introduction,”
Much Ado About Nothing
7.
Poonam Trivedi, “Why Shakespeare is…Indian,”
, 4 May 2012, accessed 5
May 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2012/may/04/why-shakespeare-is-indian
9.
Atul Kumar in discussion with the author, April 2012.
Aradhna Wal, “The Bard Goes Glocal,”
Tehelka—India’s Independent Weekly News
, 1 September 2012, accessed 30 July 2013, www.tehelka.com/2012/08/the-
Wal, “The Bard Goes Glocal.”
Wal, “The Bard Goes Glocal.”
Purvaja Sawant, “Theatre Review: Piya Behrupiya,”
14.
Shai Hussain, “Much Ado About A Lot Of Things,”
The Non Resident Indian
July
2012, accessed 30 July 2013, www.the-nri.com/life/arts/much-ado-about-a-lot-of-
Saumya Ancheri, “Five Things About Atul Kumar’s Hindi Version of Twelfth Night,”
16.
Peter J. Smith, “
Twelfth Night
,”
A Year of Shakespeare: Reliving the World Shakespeare
Festival 2012
Smith, “
UCKLEY
These lines are quoted in Shrabani Basu, “The Play’s the Thing,”
Tom Bird (presentation, Intercultural Symposium, London, 18–19 May).
Wal, “The Bard Goes Glocal.”
Wal, “The Bard Goes Glocal.”
22.
, accessed 18 April
Atul Kumar in discussion with the author, April 2012.
Atul Kumar, April 2012.
Andrew Dickson, “World Shakespeare Festival: Around the Globe in 37 Plays,”
, 20 April 2012, accessed 24 April 2012, www.theguardian.com/stage/2012/
Wal, “The Bard Goes Glocal.”
Wal, “The Bard Goes Glocal.”
Deepa Punjani, “Piya Behrupiya Play Review,”
2012, accessed July 30, 2013, www.mumbaitheatreguide.com/dramas/reviews/19-piya-
A clip of the play can be seen on YouTube here:
30.
Dickson, “World Shakespeare Festival.”
Dickson, “World Shakespeare Festival.”
Rohera,
“Gujarati at the Globe,”
Hindustan Times
, 20 May 2012, accessed
34.
(Cambridge: Cambridge
Alexa Huang, ““What Country, Friends, Is This?”: Touring Shakespeares, Agency,
Poonam Trivedi, “‘Filmi’ Shakespeare,”
Narratives of Indian Cinema
, ed. Manju Jain
Huang, “What Country, Friends, Is This?” 79.
Huang, “What Country, Friends, Is This?” 79.
Ancheri, “Five Things.”
Ancheri, “Five Things.”
Dickson, “World Shakespeare Festival.”
Zbgsi Muebttfs Np�m, “Iioei, Gukbsbti Aebptbtipot Sft tp Wpx Wpsme Siblftpfbsf
, 21 March 2012, accessed 30 July 2013, www.dnaindia.com/
entertainment/report-hindi-gujarati-adaptations-set-to-wow-world-shakespeare-
Bird announced this during the symposium. Also, see page 2 of the printed copy here,
Bird, “Intercultural Symposium.”
According to
reviewer Matt Wolf, who was thus informed in an “informal
51.
Matt Wolf, “Globe to Globe: All’s Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare’s Globe,”
, 25 May 2012, accessed 2 September 2012, www.theartsdesk.com/theatre/
Wolf, “Globe to Globe.”
Sarah Olive, “A Year of Shakespeare: All’s Well That Ends Well,”
(London: Arden,
Iqbal Khan, interview by Nicky Cox, 31 July 2012, “The Director Talks.”
Khan, “The Director Talks.”
Dickson, “World Shakespeare Festival.”
Huang, “What Country,
Jyotsna Singh, “Wooing and Wedding,”
Singh, “Wooing and Wedding.”
Meera Syal,
62.
Nosheen Iqbal, “Much Ado About Delhi: RSC’s Indian Shakespeare,”
The Guardian
, 1
August 2012, accessed 2 September 2012, www.theguardian.com/culture/2012/aug/01/
Khan, “The Director Talks.”
Khan, “The Director Talks.”
Olive, “All’s Well That Ends Well,” 35.
The trailer can be seen here:
67.
Kate Rumbold, “A Year of Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing,” (London: Arden,
Rumbold, “Much Ado About Nothing,” 151.
69.
, directed by Rajat Kapoor, Warwick Arts Centre,
Ancheri, “Five Things.”
Ancheri, “Five Things.”
Ancheri, “Five Things.”
Ancheri, “Five Things.”
“The Space,” BBC and Arts Council England, www.thespace.org
they have had in colonial times. Adaptations and appropriations of the play
Othello
continue to attest and revisit the histories of racial struggles around
the world. It is suspected that even if Shakespeare had never intended
to be a play strictly about racial issues, the political history of
the world has heightened this aspect. The introduction of Shakespeare’s
T
plays into a colonial location, for example in India under the British, had
hardly ever been innocent. It is not unusual to consider Shakespeare’s
plays in the light of the colonial project of “civilizing” the natives by
“improving” their familiarity with elevated Western literature. It is evident
from academic as well as non-academic literature that
still plays
Othello’s racial inheritance has been questioned and challenged, with
critics claiming that he was perhaps not really a “Moor” but a “mestizo,” a
sbdibm bg�mibtipo tibt xpume nblf iin iotp b “iycsie” �husf xip sfmbtivfmy
might have had more agency than a “black” person.
Hybridity does not
always necessarily transfer the person under consideration to a more
powerful or emancipated position. Bearing in mind that under a colonial
framework Othello would have nevertheless be positioned in opposition
to the “white” characters in the play, one might proceed to conclude,
however reductive it might seem, that Othello was quite simply of a
non-Caucasian racial heritage. This dissolves what one might regard
as the radical potential of isolating and understanding what might have
been Othello’s cultural inheritance or his “hybridity” that might give
the contemporary audience/readers an access to the “interstitial-space”
he occupies.
Io tiit fttby, I fypmpsf tif diofnbtid bppsppsibtipo pg tif �husf pg
Ptifmmp io tisff Ioeibo �mnt mpdbtfe io eiggfsfot tpdipmphidbm cbdlhspuoet.
Focusing on
Omkara
Kaliyattam
and
Saptapadi
, I intend to examine
the characteristics that have been adapted by directors and scriptwriters
from the original text and the variations that have been introduced to
add additional layers of meaning.
is situated, not in some urban
location that might remotely resemble Venice but in the heartlands of Uttar
Psbefti xifsf tif �hit gps ppxfs bmihot hppot boe ppmitidibot.
is based primarily in the city, but several incidents
including the one that culminates in the estranged couple’s reunion takes
place far away from any urban location. Each of these locations has its
individual cultural legacy that makes it interesting to note how an English
As Shakespeare’s play progresses, one eventually recognizes that
it against the Turks. His racial heritage is hardly ever mentioned and the
descriptions given of his physical appearance in the text highlight him as
a quintessential outsider. The tales that enamour Desdemona and draw
her emotionally to Othello are about the battles he had won, the people he
had helped the authorities to conquer and the distant lands he had visited
spent with parents. The only object he has inherited is a handkerchief
from his mother that he passed onto Desdemona. The disappearance or
nitpmbdfnfot pg tif iboelfsdiifg tffnt tp cf pg pbsbnpuot tihoi�dbodf
ppiott put, tif iboelfsdiifg cfdpnft b tiho pg tfyubm �efmity io b nbssibhf
the playwright but also that of the audiences of the Elizabethan age and the
ones that followed. The unmistakable dread of miscegenation can be traced
throughout the text. It is seen as something unnatural or an incredulous act
might be bold enough to consider asking a “white” European lady to marry
a state of matrimony with him.
might have been quite stimulating
the predatory, physically, powerful, black man “forcefully” claiming a
white woman as his companion. The Othello we are introduced to in the
pmby ibsemy �tt tiit spmf. If it tffo psinbsimy io tfsnt pg tif guodtipo if
performs and his unwavering allegiance to Venice. Well recommended
for his services and appreciated as a potentially wonderful husband, he is
exempted from undergoing the trial that his father-in-law wants. Othello
is more or less a direct adaptation of the Shakespearean play.
Pnlbsb, ps Pni, tif Ptifmmp �husf ifsf it b mpdbm hppo xip it bxbsefe bo
electoral nomination and who in turn nominates Keshuv (Cassio), instead
of Langda Tyagi (Iago) as the
bahubali
. This creates a friction and Langda,
seeking vengeance, plants seeds of suspicion in Omkara’s mind about his
bride-to-be, Dolly. Omi smothers her to death and later, realizing how he
had been manipulated by Tyagi, kills himself. In this adaptation there is a
tmihit bmtfsbtipo io tif tdifnf pg fvfott. It it tif Enimib �husf, Ioeu, xip
Tiit �mn ibt cffo tffo bt bo befpt sfpsftfotbtipo pg tif tpdip.ppmitidbm
conditions in Uttar Pradesh where there are gangs that assist political
parties in their quest for gaining and consolidating power. Omkara is a
esfbefe �husf bnpoh iit ppmitidbm ppppofott cfdbutf pg iit sutimfttoftt,
T
but at the same time he is well loved by the people in the area where
tif ppmitidbm pbsty if it bg�mibtfe tp epniobtft. Lboheb Tybhi it obnfe
so because of his limp (
langda
meaning “lame” in Hindi). Quite like
the character he has been drawn from, Tyagi ensnares unsuspecting
individuals like Keshuv and Omi (Omkara) in order to serve his purpose.
Tyagi becomes vengeful after being bypassed for a much sought after and
lucrative electoral nomination. Unable to resist the temptation of ruining
plants seeds of suspicion in his mind, which ultimately destroys Omi’s
(Desdemona) had been sanctioned and supported by the leader of this
political party, Bhai Saab, for the same reason that the Duke had granted
steeped in class, caste and feudalism, it is the don, “bahubali,” who is given
tif tbtl pg fbtioh tif pspdftt gps tif ppmitidibot. At tif �mn psphsfttft,
bt b mpt pg tif ptifs dibsbdtfst io tif �mn. Iit gbtifs xbt b Bsbinio xip
had cohabited with a woman from a lower “jati” (which may be loosely
translated as caste), which meant that Omi was an illegitimate child of
because of his outstanding performance as a muscleman, he is given the
caste individual giving orders to upper-caste party-workers. His elevation,
thus, triggers eddies of resentment. These elements play a major role in
Pnlbsb it sfbttusfe cy Epmmy’t dpo�efodf io iit rubmitift. Axbsf pg
is celebrated by Omi’s friends and acquaintances. However, everyone
immediately notices the stark difference in the skin-colour of the couple and
the old woman in Omi’s village declares as much. There is the traditional
admiration for fair skin, speculation but not accusation or criticism. Dolly’s
tlio dpmpus, mihitfs tibo nptt pg tif xpnfo io tif �mn, it nfbot tp cf bo
indicator of her caste purity and virginal beauty. Indu (Emilia) does not
however hesitate before calling Omi names because of his visibly darker
skin. He is teased and called a crow and other names, but is eventually
accepted by her and euphemistically, described as Krishna, an incarnation
consort, Radha. The origin of the name “Krishna” is the Sanskrit word
In
Kaliyattam
, Othello, or Perumalayan, is a
Theyyam
dancer, the
leader of a group of artistes. It also follows the Shakespearean narrative
dmptfmy. Sihoi�dbot mbyfst pg nfboioh bsf beefe psinbsimy cy tif sfmihiput
context of the movie. Theyyam, a practice indigenous to northern Kerala,
is a ritual where the specialists wear elaborate costumes seeking to portray
a deity, male or female, and then virtually become embodiments of the
is believed to possess the immense power to prophesize, bless and heal.
The dancer is from a lower-caste community and as an embodiment of
the deity, he becomes more powerful than the Brahmins and the Nayyars
xip gpsn tif uppfs dsutt pg tif tpdifty ttsbti�fe cy dbttf. Pfsunbmbybo
iovitft tif xsbti pg tif Ibhp.�husf, Pboiybo, cfdbutf if pspnptft Cbttip
remains relegated to the position of a clown. Perumalayan is seduced
iotp cfmifvioh iit xigf’t io�efmity boe if tuggpdbtft ifs tp efbti. If
is a ritual that has been recently renewed and revived. This
itself in an age of globalization. This attempt to revitalize the consciousness
very same time there is a counter impulse that is more celebratory when
it comes to Theyyam. There have been protests marking the performances
of Theyyam at several institutions under the conviction that it renews the
older caste prejudices that democratic India has always attempted to do
has been found circulating
in the lore of the land where the Theyyam represents the embodiment of
tif hpeeftt xip ibt tif ppxfs tp ifbm pfppmf bg�idtfe xiti tnbmm ppy.
Pfsunbmbybo io tif �mn
bears pockmarks that indicate that he
had once suffered from the disease. He considers himself blessed because
he thinks that it was the goddess who had healed him and helped him
survive when he had been left in the forest to die. Having dedicated most
become a Theyyam dancer, Perumalayan’s talents make him into a much
Theyyam dancers are scripturally required to belong to the subaltern
groups of society. It is a ritual that found mainly in North Malabar
T
and is performed in sacred groves, temples or in the households of the
economically privileged. In
Kaliyattam
, Perumalayan, the Theyyam
dancer, is from a lower caste and is given the privilege of momentarily
transcending traditional caste hierarchies by embodying a god. This offers
iin �fftioh innuoity bhbiott uppfs.dbttf xsbti cut epft opt fnppxfs
him at all times. He does represent an incarnation of a god and carries much
respect within the performative space but outside it he is as disenfranchised
as the rest of his community. Despite his talents he is still regarded as a
social inferior who cannot easily gain access into the social space reserved
One might be led to believe that Perumalayan transcends caste barriers
by marrying Thamara. Like Omkara, he too is defended on the grounds
that he was an indispensable and talented dancer who had always been
, has explained in an interview
that the process of embodiment had been used as a backdrop to explore
what he sees as a “split-personality” in a “black” Othello who willingly
ps uoximmiohmy xfbst tif nbtl pg b “xiitf nbo.” It it tihoi�dbot tp optf
that despite the intentions of the director, Perumalayan does not wear the
mask of a “white man,” but neither does he wear one of the upper castes.
the position of being a lower-caste individual and a god. Perumalayan
does not really develop a “split-personality” but his dilemma is most
ef�oitfmy ifihitfofe cy tif spmf if pmbyt eusioh tif pfsgpsnbodft. If
b Tifyybn cut bmxbyt ibt tp �obmmy npumt put pg iit dpttunf boe bmm
that is left of him is the material reality of his body. His very physicality
sfnbiot gpsfvfs bt b nbslfs pg iit miniobm pptitipo io tif ttsbti�fe tpdibm
his occupation demands him to perform and his personal subjectivity, and
is powerless in his social status. His transformation is always temporary;
Perumalayan never attempts to align himself with the upper castes on
a material plane. He willingly participates in self-surveillance realizing
that his only association with the upper castes is because of his marital
relationship with Thamara. Like Othello, his insecurities regarding his
socio-physical characteristics contribute to his victimization. Paniyan
of Theechamundi to Kanthan (Cassio). Paniyan is unforgiving because of
this oversight and proceeds to wreck Perumalayan’s precarious marriage.
For Perumalayan it might have been quite a challenge to have been able to
marry the upper-caste and socially superior Thamara, the daughter of the
village head. Having done so, Perumalayan’s sensitivity to this issue and
Io tif Bfohbmi �mn
�mn tp pspnptf tif mbshfs bhfoeb pg tfdumbsitn, ef�ofe io Ioeib bt tif
equality of all regions before the Constitution and the law. It is primarily a
romance where a snobbish “English” girl, Rina Brown (played by Suchitra
Sen), initially looks down upon the Bengali student, Krishnendu (whose
name can be literally translated as “dark moon”). She calls him “blackie”
but eventually falls in love with him after his remarkable performance as
Othello in a production of the play by university students. He reciprocates
her love but is coerced by her English father to convert to Christianity.
His own father, a rigid Hindu patriarch is unable to come to terms with it
son and she reproaches Krishnendu and breaks up with him. Krishnendu
then enters the fold of evangelical Christianity. Rina, in a moment of
dramatic recognition, is made aware of the fact that she was a product
of an episode of sexual violence. Her English father had sexually abused
his Indian domestic help and the woman waiting upon her was actually
ifs cipmphidbm nptifs. Tif �mn dpodmueft po b tffniohmy pptinittid optf
with the once estranged couple reunited and reigniting their lost romance.
tif �mn it gsbuhit xiti tfotipot pg dbttf, dmbtt, sbdf boe obtipo.cuimeioh
Paromita Chakravarti notes that while adaptations of Shakespeare’s
plays might give the impression of providing “a ‘secular’ space outside
the fold of traditional religion and caste,” they are “neither secular nor
Nfitifs it tif �mn
, which ostensibly appears to be a
promoting a new secular nation where interracial or inter-caste romantic
unions are celebrated, not condemned. The staging of the play
xitiio tif �mn tihobmt tif sfmbtipotiip it cfbst xiti tif eimfnnbt pg
the characters of the Shakespearean and the actors who have played the
spmf pg Ptifmmp tispuhi tif bhft. Sfmfbtfe io 1961, tif �mn it tft io psf.
ioefpfoefot Ioeib pg tif 1940t. Tif spnbodf io tif �mn nihit bppfbm tp
its viewers as a representation of liberal modernity but a closer look might
T
Tif �mn cfhiot xiti b esuolfo Siob Bspxo cfioh dbssife iotp b
missionary’s improvised military hospital. The missionary doctor is,
of course, none other than Krishnendu (played by Uttam Kumar). He
does not recognize her at once and he sprinkles water on her, hoping
that she wakes out of her drunken slumber. This might remind one of
situbmittid innfstipo tibt it b pbst pg tif sitf pg cbptitn. Io b �bticbdl
an exceptional medical student and a footballer who had been able
Rina Brown, an Anglophiliac, had always jeered at him for his racial
. Rina, who had initially harboured feelings
for the English student Clayton (who does not quite reciprocate her
Krishnendu had been called on to do an impromptu performance
because Clayton was found to have fallen ill. It is also ironic in this
particular case that the European man seems to have a weaker constitution
than the “Indian native” the colonial masters had once condescendingly
declared as “weak” and “effeminate” subjects. Pitted against him,
Krishnendu in contrast is not only of robust health but an ideal multifaceted
him to respect traditions as well as modernity. Quite the Renaissance man,
he is a medical student who is well-versed in Shakespeare. Ever ready to
This might be taken as an indicator of how the Favonian colonial subject
has been produced through an a historical study of Shakespeare. As far
as the movie goes, Krishnendu has only a little while to prepare for his
, before the performance of the play Othello, Krishnendu’s
face is well-blackened by the make-up artist in order to racialize him
with respect to the “white Desdemona.” Krishnendu is not a “real
unpainted Nigger.”
He is neither the “Moor” he represents on stage nor
the Englishman he has replaced onstage. Before the performance when
Rina is made aware of Clayton’s condition, she refuses to participate.
not touch her during the performance. The performative stage, as seen
xitiio tiit �mn, it b tpbdf xifsf tpdibm boyiftift bsf pmbyfe put. Siob
Brown, the daughter of an Englishman, cannot bear to be touched by a
“blackie.” Sudipto Chatterjee and Jyotsna G. Singh have suggested that
in colonial times the presence of a “native” on stage and his proximity to
a white Desdemona might have been an unusual and highly controversial
sight. While Rina Brown had racially aligned herself to the English,
her later realization that her mother was an Indian woman shatters her
socio-ideological moorings. As Paromita Chakravarti has suggested,
Rina Brown represents the New Woman who is a “perfect combination
of the spiritedness of a European heroine” and the submissiveness of a
traditional Hindu woman. Krishnendu enters the fold of Christianity in
order to be allowed to marry Rina while Rina succumbs to the persuasions
It is pertinent to mention that the director, Ajoy Kar, had employed other
artists to perform the voice-overs for the actors in the play scenes because
the actors’ voices were heavily accented. Desdemona’s part was done by
actor and theatre artiste Utpal Dutt. Suchitra Sen is elsewhere reasonably
bohmidizfe boe dbpbcmf pg �ufotmy pfppfsioh ifs Bfohbmi eibmphuft xiti
, we come to realize
that Rina Brown, the Anglo-Indian Desdemona, a product of “sin” as her
Eohmiti gbtifs ibe tpitfgummy efdmbsfe, it tif tsumy iycsie, miniobm �husf
who is “divided to the vein.” The movie concludes with the reunion of
the lovers and Krishnendu carries Rina in his arms, away from the gaze
of the audience, in the direction of a church that can be seen in the light
Tif Ptifmmpt xf xitoftt io tiftf �mnt bsf tbmfotfe ioeivieubmt xip
are restrained and circumscribed by issues related to caste and faith. It is
improbable that Perumalayan would have gained any social mobility by
marrying the upper-caste Thamara. Omkara’s caste might have at times
helped him gain political mileage, but he would perhaps never been as
respected as the Bhai Saab of the party. Here it is important to address the
question of adaptation. How is adaptation distinct from other modes of
An adaptation signals a relationship with an informing source-text or
original… On the other hand, appropriation frequently affects a more
it may still require the intellectual juxtapositioning of at[
]least one text
against another…. But the appropriated text or texts are not always as
clearly signaled or acknowledged as in the adaptive process. They may
occur in a far less straightforward context than is evident in making a film
T
Here, an adaptation is seen as a text that is in constant dialogue with
the source-text, a site where meaning is constantly negotiated. I shall
here as well. The term “to adapt” means to layer the structure or
in its new environment. Adaptation can therefore also be thought of
as being exclusively intermedial, involving the transfer of narrative
elements from one medium to another. There might eventually be a
significant modification or a radical mutation in the text that seeks to
accommodate itself in a new environment by creating a new entity that
might simultaneously indulge in a strange relationship with the source
and study the transmedial myths or cultural ideas that make the Othello
claim to be “adaptations” of
. The directors have acknowledged their debt to Shakespeare and
ordinates. I would like to argue that such an adaptation of Othello in the
postcolonial location is without doubt an appropriation because the very
bdt pg tsbotgfssioh �mtfsfe.epxo obssbtivf fmfnfott gspn b Siblftpfbsfbo
context into an Indian one involves an act of appropriation.
cy tif vistuf pg pus mpdbtipo, ihopsf tif gbdt tibt tif Ptifmmp.�husf it
dislocated in order to assist us in our interrogation of caste issues. When
Krishnendu onstage had an intensity that was carried forward by their
offstage romance. The religious differences as well as their different racial
moorings create impediments for Rina and Krishnendu’s romance. The
�mn nihit iiot bt tifis sfuoipo cut tifis nbssibhf it ofvfs tipxo potdsffo.
When it comes to Perumalayan and Omkara we see the “epidermalization
of [caste],” to adopt Fanon’s concept of the “epidermalization of race.”
Tif piytidbm bttsicutft pg tif Ptifmmp.�husft cfdpnf nbslfst pg tifis
caste inferiority while the “whiteness” of the Desdemonas indicates caste
purity and superiority. In the Indian context, with respect to
and
, it is the transgressive nature of the inter-caste romance of star-
the audience. In
been used to heighten the actor’s skin tone to make him look exceptionally
dark and pock-marked. His ugliness is attributed to the fact that he had
cffo bg�idtfe xiti tnbmmppy bt b diime boe ibe podf bddiefotbmmy cusot
iintfmg io tif Tifyybn �sf. Iit uhmioftt it tffo opt kutt bt b nbslfs
of his inferior caste but also as a result of the tribulations he undergoes
because of his poverty. Thamara, on the other hand, is exceptionally fair.
Omkara’s dark skin (and by extension his relative ugliness) can
cf bttsicutfe tp iit dbttf bg�mibtipo tiodf iit tittfs tpp it pg b tinimbs
complexion. In her essay on Bhardwaj’s
suggested that “[by] resorting to colour-blindness (as the cast is an all-
Indian cast), it contests the orientalist pattern of the black man’s violence
against the white woman.”
10
Tiut, Bibsexbk’t �mn it ofitifs dpmpus.cmioe
nor does it do away with tensions regarding the skin-colours of the various
dibsbdtfst io tif �mn.
Iago/LangdaTyagi (played by Saif Ali Khan) is
of a lighter complexion than Omkara and so is Keshuv (Vivek Oberoi).
Omkara’s sister, Indu/Emilia (played by Konkona Sen Sharma) married
(Eftefnpob). Wiimf tif �mn nihit opt cf sfpmidbtioh tif “psifotbmitt
pattern,” racial/caste differences are not only visually highlighted in this
�mn, tif dbtt tpp bppfbst tp ibvf cffo pidlfe xiti b dfstbio efhsff pg
Fbis.tlio �ybtipo it opt uodpnnpo io tif Ioeibo dpotfyt xifsf io
a startling parallel dark-skinned people are considered less attractive.
There has been a promotion of “dusky-skinned beauties” in recent times
but the prejudice exists in popular imagination. Bipasha Basu plays the
role of an entertainer (Chamanbahar “Billo”) in
coarsely a contemporary equivalent of the courtesan Bianca, while Kareena
Kapoor (who has a fairer complexion than both Sharma and Bipasha
Basu) plays the role of Dolly. Both Dolly and Thamara are beautiful but
more importantly, it might seem, they are light-skinned, like Rina Brown.
This seems to be no mere coincidence. Their complexion is repeatedly
dpnpbsfe tp tibt pg tif Ptifmmp.�husft’. Tif eiggfsfodf io dpnpmfyipo
heightens the transgressive element in such romances. “Romance” is
often employed as a literary tool to transcend the problems developed by
tif pmpt, cut io tiftf �mnt it it tif vfsy sppt pg dpnpmidbtipot tibt dboopt
has secured a cult-like status in this cultural situation owing to
that can be reduced and dislocated so that one only remembers parts of
Cfmib S. Ebimfbefs ibt dpiofe tif tfsn “Ptifmmppiimib,” xiidi tif ef�oft
bt “tif dsitidbm boe dumtusbm �ybtipo po Siblftpfbsf’t tsbhfey pg iotfs.
sbdibm nbssibhf tp tif fydmutipo pg cspbefs ef�oitipot boe npsf pptitivf
Caste, not race, in the Indian context is
T
be perceived as a domestic drama where a husband is falsely convinced
Tif �mnt fypsftt b iycsieity xifsf tif Ptifmmp.�husf cfdpnft b
socio-political symbol for the victims of hegemonic structures. It holds
special appeal because the character is not an outsider nor is he completely
dispossessed; he is talented and has heroic elements but is unable to
negotiate with the intercommunal or caste dynamics. While
fehft tpxbset tif iefbm titubtipo, tif sfefnptivf rubmity pg tif �mn it
but with black skin,” a surrogate Clayton. Despite the attempts to present
Ksitiofoeu bt b tfdumbs �husf, tif bmmusf pg tif xiitf boe Cisittibo io
tif �mn bsf bppbsfot. If dspttft pvfs, cut it epft opt nbsl b npnfot pg
transcendence from his position as the “other” in a colonial state because
he is assimilated into the status of the ideal colonized subject. In an Indian
titubtipo tiftf �mnt iobevfstfotmy �bh “tif ptifs” xitiio tif obtipobm
boundaries. While the tragic narratives in
overtly recommend intercaste conjugality, the reunion of the inter-religious
, xiidi it psinbsimy b spnbotid �mn, tuhhfttt tibt tudi
Miriam Murtuza. Poems by Akbar Allahabadi, 4 January 2013, http://www.columbia.
Syed Akbar Hussain of Allahabad, more popularly known as “Akbar” Allahabadi,
had written several satirical shers or poems indicating the sentiments of people of his
might have been a European woman but keeping in mind his the satirical strains in his
work we might consider that she might have been a rather anglicized woman of Indian
Ania Loomba, “Local-manufacture Made-in-India Othello fellows.” In
Issues of Race,
Hybridity and Location in Post-colonial Shakespeares
, ed. Tom Hoenselaars (London:
3.
Here I intend to draw from Homi Bhabha’s conceptualization of “hybridity” and
“interstitial spaces.” In his well-known essay “The Location of Culture” he has explained
4.
in her remarkable work “Women and Men in Othello” has discussed the importance
pg tif iboelfsdiifg boe tif tihoi�dbodf Ptifmmp foepxt it xiti bgtfs if eitdpvfst tibt
Theodore P.C. Gabriel,
Playing God: Belief and Ritual in the Muttappan Cult of North
(Indiana University: Equinox Publishing Limited, 2010). I found Theodore P.C.
Gabriel’s extensive research has been invaluable since he has described the origins and
suffered a backlash when Communism in Kerala was very much in vogue and sought to
eliminate vestiges of what could have been perceived as oppressive religious practices.
The ritual, however, has now once again been revived and is very often performed at
Aebischer, Pascale, Edward J. Esche and Nigel Wheale, ed.
(United Kingdom: Palgrave
Loomba, “Local-manufacture.” Ania Loomba in her essay explains the dilemma that
the English adaptations of Othello in the India context were faced with. There were
doubts not only about the color of the “natives” but also of their ability to perform the
8.
Julia Sanders, “What is Appropriation?,” in
Adaptation and Appropriation
9.
on Screen: Othello
forward an interesting suggestion claiming that, “
is representative of a post-
independence way for approaching Shakespeare rather than a postcolonial reclaiming
of Shakespeare” with its exploration of rural political landscapes and contemporary
Celia R. Daileader,
Daileader has aptly noted how, “Anglo-American culture generally ‘casts’ black men
bt Ptifmmpt” (Ebimfbefs, 7). Tif Ioeibo �mn ioeuttsy bppfbst tp cf op eiggfsfot io tiit
12.
. In this book Celia R. Daileader has used this term,
“Othellophilia.” In her study she has traced the roots of the fascination that inter-racial
the second film from Merchant Ivory Productions
(the collaborative enterprise of producer Ismail Merchant and director
James Ivory), was released in 1965, a year after the quadricentennial
birth celebrations of Shakespeare.
This film showcased the events in the
life of a British theatrical troupe (that also had a few Indian actors in it)
and its myriad experiences while touring and performing Shakespeare in
various regions in post-independence India. The theatre company was
called The Buckingham Players and was run by the actor–manager Tony
Buckingham whose wife Carla and daughter Lizzie were principal actors
Wibt it nptt iotfsfttioh bcput tiit �mn it tibt itt dfotsbm spmft xfsf
played by none other than the members of an actual British theatrical
troupe, Geoffrey Kendal’s Shakespeareana (that consisted mainly
of British and some Irish actors and later incorporated some Indians
and Americans as well), that had actually toured India with their
Shakespearean productions from the 1940s up to the mid-1980s with a
Over a mere period of two and a half years,
total of 879 performances to audience/spectators ranging from royalty
The actor–manager of Shakespeareana, Geoffrey Kendal, played his
dpuotfspbst Tpoy Budliohibn io tif �mn, iit xigf Lbusb Lieefm fobdtfe
the role of Carla, Buckingham’s wife, and their younger daughter Felicity
Kendal acted as the Buckinghams’ daughter Lizzie, and it would not
be far-fetched to assume that they were simply playing versions of
themselves on reel. The Kendals’ elder daughter, Jennifer, not only did
tif dpttunft gps tif �mn cut bmtp pmbyfe tif cit spmf pg tif Bsititi Mst
where the players stay during their tour. Jennifer’s husband, the soon
tp cf gbnput Ioeibo �mn iepm Sibtii Kbppps, pfsgpsnfe tif spmf pg tif
wealthy Indian playboy Sanju Rai, a character described by the director
with whom Lizzie falls head over heels and quite hopelessly in love with.
As Geoffrey Kendal fondly and rightly reminisces in his autobiography
published in 1986, also called
The
Shakespeare Wallah
, “All our family
Geoffrey Kendal’s passion for Shakespeare was deep and profound
bt xbt iit bg�oity gps Ioeib, bt bttfstfe cy iin boe iit gbnimy tinf boe
again. The Second World War and the Entertainment National Service
Association (ENSA) where Kendal was recruited as an actor brought
iin tp Ioeib gps tif �stt tinf. Io Bpncby if nft Pftfs Mfsitpo, tif nbo
with whom he had previously arranged theatrical shows in Lancashire
schools. It was Meriton’s brainchild that they open a little touring
company that would play in schools and colleges in India, especially
after the end of the war, a suggestion that would redirect the course of
Kendal’s life. The idea was not forgotten and was rekindled at a chance
Shakespeareana Company was conceptualized. Soon they sailed to India
“armed with Shakespeare,” whose plays in Kendal’s perception “were so
Thus began the Kendals’ tryst with India, an
In an early diary entry written in
Ootacamund on Christmas Day in 1956, Kendal had gone into raptures
over the varied Indian climate, was warmly appreciative of the different
creeds living in harmony in India and had ended by pronouncing that
“India is my home.”
Although the exact kind and nature of his professed
mpvf gps Ioeib xpume nfsit hfofsbm tdsutioy, it dbo cf ef�oitfmy tbie tibt
coming back to this country if he could, rather than live permanently in
England where his roots lay. It was because of his love for India that his
youngest daughter Felicity Kendal came all the way to this country and
P
scattered his ashes in the Indian Ocean after he had breathed his last in
Gfpggsfy Kfoebm’t �stt nfftioh xiti tif pspeudfs–eisfdtps eup
of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory took place in 1963. Since they
xbotfe tp nblf b �mn bcput b migf tinimbs tp iit, pg bo Eohmiti bdtps.
manager touring in India with a company performing Shakespeare, he
graciously lent them his diary written during his early days when India
became independent. This became the starting point of the screenplay
pg tif �mn
co-written by the novelist Ruth Prawer
Jhabvala and the director James Ivory, although the diary was not drawn
The neologism “Shakespeare Wallah” was neither coined by Ismail
Merchant, James Ivory nor Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, as Geoffrey Kendal
Conversation with the
, the producer Ismail Merchant explicates that the “Wallah”
io tif titmf pg tif �mn nfbot b tsbeftnbo ps pof xip tfmmt tpnftiioh,
This chapter proposes to trace how the troupe Shakespeareana and the
the implications entail. It argues that if the real life troupe Shakespeareana
had mostly succeeded in “selling” Shakespeare to the educated Indians
and students of schools and colleges, which accounted for its fame and
continuing run in that circuit, the troupe The Buckingham Players in the
�mn pomy nbobhf tp “ep” Siblftpfbsf bt tify bsf bcmf tp boe io tif pomy
way they know how to, clinging to their colonial attitudes and keeping
all their “Englishness” intact, incapable of moulding themselves to the
changing times and the changing India after independence. Consequently,
they are shown to fail miserably, not only in connecting with the Indian
audience that is breaking free from its colonial past but also in “selling”
Shakespeare in a manner that would bring in more business for them and
ensure their growth and popularity. The aim of this chapter is also to look
bt ipx tif �mn tispuhi itt ppstsbybm pg tif efdmiof boe dpnnfsdibm gbimusf
Shakespeare, sounding the death knell of antiquated performances that
Hindi cinema as a powerful alternative meant that the time for “different
had come, as opposed to a universal, timeless and
tsbotdfoefotbm Siblftpfbsf. It dbo cf tbie tibt tif �mn
Shakespeare
Wallah
puts forward popular mass culture as a powerful force that
needs to be addressed and suggests that to be a commercially successful
“Shakespeare
” in India, one needs to come down from the colonial
ivory tower, feel the pulse of the common masses and tap their diverse
�mn, io tpitf pg itt tipfttsioh cuehft pg 80,000 epmmbst. Tif npofy xbt
acquired by the makers from the sale of the world distribution rights of
tifis �mn
(1963) to Columbia Pictures. The real reason
was shot in black and white was that there was no
foibodfe tif �mn cy dsfbtioh fvpdbtivf diibsptdusp fggfdtt. At tif nblfst
Satyajit Ray scored the lilting music of
tiit �mn boe iit piptphsbpifs Sucsbtb Mitsb xpslfe bt dbnfsbnbo. Ivpsy
calls himself the “lucky recipient” of their profound talents.
Tif �mn’t
merits were enough to qualify it for entry to the Berlin Film Festival in
1965 boe Mbeius Jbggsfy, tif bdtsftt xip pmbyfe tif Iioei �mn ifspiof
Mbokumb io tif �mn, xbt bxbsefe tif Simvfs Bfbs Axbse gps Bftt Adtsftt.
Tif �mn it bcput tif xboioh gpstuoft pg Tif Budliohibn Pmbyfst xip
tour all over India, providing classic Shakespearean theatre—with all its
Englishness intact—to anybody who is willing to pay for it, from an Indian
nbibsbkb pg efdmioioh gpstuoft xip it b hsfbt Siblftpfbsf b�dipobep
(played by Utpal Dutt), one who can randomly and effortlessly quote from
Shakespeare’s plays at the dinner table, to Indian school audiences who are
bound to study the works of the English Bard as an integral part of their
educational curriculum. The troupe’s doing or performing Shakespeare
stems from their boundless passion for the Bard and blends with their
economic necessity of earning a livelihood (hence, selling Shakespeare),
boe it tif pomy xby pg migf lopxo tp tifn ps bvbimbcmf tp tifn io tif �mn.
One may pause at this point to consider what India actually means
ps ipx it it ppstsbyfe io tif �mn tibt dispoidmft tif migf pg b tsbvfmmioh
company of players doing and selling Shakespeare in that country for
beauty of India as the players travel through the deserts of Rajasthan by
P
performances of Shakespeare in the different regions of India among
its diverse people may imply, especially as the players perform from
Shakespearean plays only in their classic English style, regardless of the
locale they visit. Their performance of Shakespeare is neither mediated nor
sifted through the various social, cultural, historical, political, ideological
�mtfst pg tif tbshft dumtusf boe bueifodf. Tif tspupf tsbvfstft vbsiput
territorial spaces but does not make any inroads into the diverse cultures.
Ioeib bt xf tsbvfm xiti tif tspupf, tif eiggfsfodf it opt sf�fdtfe io tif
cultural domain of the performance, does not display any localization and
that constitute the distinctive nature of India as a cohesive whole. This
is especially so as all the places and people shown are seen through the
built colonial lens is nothing if not limited, one-dimensional and often
discordant. The charming diversity in unity that is the uniqueness of India,
xiidi it iiotfe io Kfoebm’t eibsy fotsy nfotipofe fbsmifs, epft opt �oe
pmbdf io tif sfpsftfotbtipo pg Ioeib io tiit �mn bt Ioeib it vifxfe gspn tif
myopic lens of the British Tony Buckingham who has a marked colonial
It may be noted here that although Geoffrey Kendal moved with
his troupe in India systematically from region to region, occasionally
cutting across classes, his personal autobiographical reflections in
were not anchored in India’s historical and
political situation. The turbulent political realities of the independence
of India do not seem to mould his perceptions regarding the country or
tihoi�dbotmy bggfdt iin. Iit ttspoh ttbtfnfot sfhbseioh tif Pbstitipo pg
India, calling it a ‘
mistake’ (emphasis mine) that caused “immense
suffering,”
is a lone one and at other times he blithely glosses over
only recounting its effect on his personal itinerary and not recording it
as a momentous event in India’s history.
Panja astutely
underplays its life-changing impact on the common people of India. To
top it all, Kendal’s approach to the father of the nation’s untimely demise
In this way, according to Panja, Kendal appears to be “numbing
his mind against the impact of history and to shield theatre from it” and
and politics.”
as aloof and untouched by any political, social and cultural realities of
tif dpuotsy if ibt bepptfe �oet sftpobodft io Kfoebm’t pxo biittpsidity.
Io tiit �mn, Tpoy Budliohibn btpisft tp hivf tp Ioeibo bueifodft
on the real life Kendal, especially if we recall and accept Felicity
Kendal’s appraisal of her father in her introduction to his autobiography
My father’s passion was more to do with giving than gaining, and what he
wanted to give was Shakespeare...to hundreds of thousands of people, in
The difference that can be perceived is that Buckingham succeeded in
communicating, but not selling, Shakespeare as an idea; he gives the classic
English Shakespeare but fails to create connoisseurship in his intended
audience. Perhaps it entertains, but there is no appreciation of what he so
The reasons may not be too far to seek. The British troupe presents
Shakespeare as it always has and its dramatic style in post-independence
Ioeib io tif �mn bppfbst tp cf bsdibid boe fotisfmy putnpefe. Tif pmbyfst
are shown performing scenes from
Antony and Cleopatra
at various locations in the
�mn cut, pxioh tp tifis tsbioioh ps tifis iohsbiofe dpmpoibm bttitueft, tify
are never shown trying to mix with local traditions or adopt any other
traditional or folk theatre form as a vehicle to make Shakespeare more
performers and their audience. They never feel nor understand that
Shakespeare needs to be Indianized at all, or that their kind of English
theatre ought to be adapted, even if not recast, to cater to the Indian temper
and audiences for increased viewership and appeal. The transition that
India undergoes from colonial to postcolonial times seems to be lost on
The Buckingham Players who seem to be perpetually living on the stage
boe ofvfs eftdfoe gspn it po tif tfssb �snb pg sfbmity. Tif Budliohibnt
viewer after the country’s independence as one who was neither attracted
nor compelled to watch the English fare of the erstwhile rulers. Quite
unfortunately, they keep on churning out performances that would
P
perhaps only be popular with the educated Indian steeped in a typically
English education.
Felicity Kendal in her BBC documentary
to Indian culture. As Independence approached, Shakespeare’s days in the
Indian sun looked numbered. My parents couldn’t have picked a worse time
to launch their company Shakespeareana. Shakespeareana was launched in
In the
Conversation with the Filmmakers
, James Ivory asserts that in the last
days of the British Raj there was a great interest all around in Shakespeare’s
in seeing Shakespeare performances. He goes on to say that while writing
the script Ruth Prawer Jhabwala thought that she could work on this and
culture. However, as John Pym has aptly assessed, the film was not so
much “a reflection of the end of the Raj, as of the fate of its individual
idiosyncratic camp followers.”
too dealt with the failure of the West to connect with Indian culture, but
with a marked difference. In
the West is more inclined to take
from India what it can in terms of culture and spiritual enlightenment,
the Indians in the form of the riches of its civilization that is embodied
One may note here that the diminishing interest in
Shakespeare that both Felicity Kendal and James Ivory mention could
presented in the classic English style, as did the Kendals in real life or the
Buckinghams in the film. It does not refer to the tradition of adapting and
appropriating Shakespeare as various Indian languages and cultures did
and continue to do, through translation and performance, since the end of
Apropos this essay’s proposition, it is not that the British or the
colonial manner in which Shakespeare is performed by the players
has no takers at all. The way Shakespeare is
sfdfivfe cy tif dibsbdtfst io tif �mn tfmmt b mpt. Tifsf bppfbst tp cf b
dmfbs efnbsdbtipo io tif �mn cftxffo tif Ioeibo pfppmf xip ibvf opt yft
freed themselves from the shackles of their colonial past, are suffering
from a strong colonial hangover and who idolize Shakespeare (such
as the Indian maharaja and Sanju Rai), and those representing the new
fnfshioh ioefpfoefot Ioeib (tudi bt tif pg�dfs.io.dibshf pg tif tdippm,
uorubmi�fe gbtdiobtipo gps Siblftpfbsf psftfotfe io dibsbdtfsittid Eohmiti
style. Buckingham’s performances are a hit with the former section of the
Indian educated elite who are oriented towards Shakespeare, but fail to
inpsftt ps bttsbdt tif mbttfs, ps tif nbkpsity pg tif Ioeibo pfppmf io tif �mn.
is piqued beyond measure when he fails to sell his kind of
Shakespeare, an instance being when he cannot secure the desired number
six, seven performances. They couldn’t see enough of us. But it’s such a
rejection—a rejection of me. Of everything I am, everything I’ve done.
Nowadays...why should they care?.... It’s not appreciation I am talking
about. Carla, it’s—Why are we here...instead of in Sheffield or in Bristol
or in—at least somewhere like that. Did I have to come all the way to India
because I wasn’t good enough for those places?.... No, it wasn’t that. We
The Buckinghams were not only self-proclaimed “idealists” but, with their
regular performances at schools in British India, had been more than assured
of their role, in John Pym’s words, as “dispensers of truth, the truth of
literature,” their medium being Shakespeare. However, they slowly realize
that much has changed and India after independence has turned into a place
of impermanence for them. They sense they have lost their stronghold
and should have gone back after India became independent in August
They experience a nostalgic yearning for those glorious days of the
past, when India was a British colony, and find it difficult to accept with
equanimity the transformation in the Indian audience which, according to
Tony Buckingham in the film, was the most wonderful audience in the world,
more so possibly because it was uncritically appreciative and inevitably
applauded their performances. He is a character unable to accept criticism
and rejection, unable to move on and adapt with the times and cannot
advance any “Indian Shakespeare” that may attract a new viewership.
Buckingham remains entrenched in his colonial beliefs. His desperate
offer to sell Shakespeare in an attractive, “package performance of
comedy, tragedy and
,” hardly generates any enthusiasm in the
who is more pre-occupied with the two
P
time for the Shakespeare performances of The Buckingham Players.
One is immediately reminded of the incident at the beginning of the
film where the troupe is shown driving through the vast landscape of
Rajasthan. Their car breaks down and while they wait, hoping fervently
entertain them with tricks. At the end of the performance, he unhappily
declares that his art was no longer valued by anybody, in an exercise in
introspection heavily flavoured with truth and pathos, which prompts
the most senior member of the troupe, Bobby to wryly observe, “Our
story exactly!” The truth and wisdom of this comment comes home to
the officer-in-charge of the school and Tony Buckingham takes place. It
has been rightly said that in this film “the action unfolds with melancholy
In
the film, the people who do not suffer from colonial hangover (who form
the majority here) and who do not have a colonial education cannot value
the Shakespeare the Buckinghams do and want to sell and are unwilling
to buy him by watching and paying for such performances, resulting in
It ibt cffo bppsppsibtfmy bshufe tibt tif �mn dpume cf sfbe bt b dsitiruf
of Buckingham’s imperialist mentality. Tony’s inability to comprehend
why his art is being rejected in favour of native Indian traditions and his
extreme nostalgia for India as a pre-independence colony of the British
Empire is a limitation of his understanding that is directly responsible for
the failure of his troupe to adapt to a changing India. He is unsuccessful
in treating Indians as equals to present a truly intercultural theatre that
speaks to an Indian audience on equal terms instead of talking down to
Wifo if it tsyioh tp pfstubef tif pg�dfs.io.dibshf pg tif tdippm io
remarks that Shakespeare must unquestionably be in the school curriculum
and that he has been told that their performances are not only very popular
British imperialists also lurks beneath, and is inseparable from Tony’s
means of earning a livelihood by performing Shakerspeare. When later
the officer-in-charge makes conversation about the Founder’s Day
celebrations of the school that Tony had missed and where the Guest
of Honour, the Minister of Mines and Fuels had delivered an excellent
disdainfully: “Uh. Full of misquotations from Shakespeare?” The
tuspsitfe pg�dfs.io.dibshf sfnbslt tibt tif Mioittfs ibe pomy bmmuefe tp
“our ancient Sanskrit writings.” The superior feeling and high-handed
attitude that Tony Buckingham has about all things Shakespeare and
British, is blatantly laid bare in this single instance when he is unable to
envisage an Indian minister quote from anything other than Shakespeare,
or even quote correctly from the Bard. It is this attitude that prevents him
performances of Shakespeare, a playwright who was anyway viewed as
It is a well-known historical fact that the British introduced the
study of English literature and language in the Indian education system
with the passage of the Indian Educational Act of 1835 and the study of
Shakespeare’s texts were given place of pride in the curriculum as they were
meant to uphold and impart the humanistic ideals of the British civilization.
Shakespeare was also included in the syllabi of the civil services examination
and helped establish the cultural authority and supremacy of the British, and
made staging the plays a popular activity in schools and colleges.
Loomba has said that “English literature was a universal source of morality
and knowledge; even Indian nationalism was attributed to the study of
It cannot but be emphasized how colonial educationists
and administrators used the canonical Shakespeare to not only celebrate
the superiority of the so called “civilised races” but to reinforce cultural,
Tony Buckingham,
especially in the instance referred to previously, seems to subscribe to
Io tiit �mn, tiit eivitipo cftxffo Siblftpfbsf boe tif Bsititi po tif pof
hand and India and indigenous traditions on the other is laid directly in the
open in the statements of Mrs Bowen, the owner of the Hotel Gleneagles
Carla, Beryl Bowen observes, “It’s not like the old days. What do these
theatre? Shakespeare and all that” (emphasis
mine). Beryl’s perception that Shakespeare is always
, a uniquely
superior and innately British possession that is far above in stature to
the British and Indians remain unbridgeable in her eyes, and cross-cultural
assimilation or intercultural theatre, inconceivable concepts. Similarly,
P
Tony too does not have the affective capacity to accept that there can be
any other kind of Shakespeare, any intercultural or Indian Shakespeare
that would directly speak to an Indian audience and that they may fashion
Io tif �mn, tif pomy �bvpus pg tif mpdbm ps boy ioeihfoput bst gpsn io
India is presented in the form of Hindi cinema, and its popularity, power
boe vphuf ifsf it fncpeife io tif �husf pg Mbokumb, tif gbtiipobcmf,
�bncpybot boe tfnpfsbnfotbm Iioei �mn bdtsftt, boe tif nittsftt pg tif
bg�ufot Ioeibo pmbycpy Sboku Sbi xip mbtfs cfdpnft tif spnbotid mpvf
interest of Buckingham’s daughter Lizzie. Cinema has, since its nativity,
been regarded as the arch-enemy of theatre and Geoffrey Kendal too,
cinema and expressed his concerns at how it might spell doom for theatre
as a tradition in particular, and touring actors in general.
This threat of
At pof ppiot io tif �mn, Sboku iovitft Mbokumb tp b pfsgpsnbodf pg
Othello
by The Buckingham Players, strategically thinking that the mere
psftfodf pg b �mn ttbs bt b tipx ximm esbx dspxet boe sblf io npofy.
Manjula agrees, even if out of jealousy, curiosity about and hatred of
her rival Lizzie who is performing. She enters the theatre hall towards
the end and her arrival causes the expected sensation and disruption.
Instead of watching the critical and deeply moving scene of Desdemona’s
on the stage, the audience’s attention is turned on
Manjula, with many of them hankering after her autograph amidst
general mayhem. The enraged Tony Buckingham loses his composure
and cannot continue with the performance before he has admonished
the rowdy audience. Much later, when Sanju personally tries to tender
an apology for the commotion caused by his guest, Buckingham reacts
to the evening’s events by calling it the “victory of the motion pictures
over theatre.” The high priest of Shakespeare, presented in the classic
English style, is seen to lose out to the popularity of the glamorous Hindi
�mn ioeuttsy boe itt �btiy ttbst. Tif pmbyfst bsf uobcmf tp fitifs ep ps
mass culture.
Geoffrey Kendal describes this phenomenon in his autobiography
xiimf tbmlioh bcput ipx tif nblfst bppspbdife tif �mn, “Tif bdtpst
were seen as last of the British Raj, hanging on to a dying culture in an
out-of-date medium, while the cinema, representing modern India, took
over with its new and vital power.”
Although one may agree with his
hfofsbm putmppl po tif sfpsftfotbtipo pg diofnb io tiit �mn, pof dboopt
help but take issue with his describing theatre as an “out-of-date medium,”
tif �mn ioeuttsy. Io ny ppioipo, b npsf bddusbtf bttfttnfot xpume cf
describing the Buckinghams’ theatrical style and dramatic tradition to
be “out-of-date” especially in the context of newly independent India
where an upsurge of nationalistic tendencies and resistance to the
dumtusbmmy, tif xpsme io tif �mn it tpp inpbtifot gps Siblftpfbsfbo esbnb
per se and too preoccupied with the novelties of entertaining musical
�mnt. Tif tsbvbimt pg Tif Budliohibn Pmbyfst pomy fyfnpmigy tif
popular entertainments, especially as they are sluggish about changing
They, according to Patricia Storace, are “constrained
cy tifis tifbtsidbm dbmmioh, xiidi ibt mptt pppumbsity tp Ioeibo �mnt tibt
Nandi Bhatia has also
argued that the dramatic response generated by Manjula’s presence, in
pomy bg�snt tif tyncpmid inppstbodf pg dpnnfsdibm Iioei diofnb gps
Indians, just as the stark loss of interest among the Indian populace
signals the necessity of being attentive to the shifting historical contexts
The unruly behaviour of the audience, not only in the presence of
Manjula but later during a performance of
dominant culture imposed from outside and one that gradually seems
foreign and incomprehensible to native traditions such as the rising Hindi
�mn ioeuttsy. Tif einioitiioh bppfbm pg Siblftpfbsf nby bmtp tyncpmizf
the loss of colonial authority and resistance to cultural imposition
from outside.
The colonial Tony Buckingham has little idea of how to sell
Shakespeare in postcolonial India and Sanju Rai, his aide and faithful
admirer of the values that his outmoded British theatre represents, fails to
help him with his stunted vision and ineffective strategy. Tony does not
fvfo inbhiof iovitioh b Iioei �mn ttbs tp iit tipx, boe Sboku dbo pomy
fovitbhf iovitioh Mbokumb bt iit huftt boe opt utf iit io�ufodf boe hppe
will with both her and the Buckinghams to bring about a collaboration
could have been an excellent promotional stratagem to sell their brand of
the masses as a means to reach a wider audience. Instead, both of them
obsess about the classical status of Shakespeare in their conversations
P
That Shakespeare is viewed as the repository of high culture is more
than evident in Sanju’s perceptions and ideas and powerfully affects
his relationships with the women around him. After being mesmerized
by Lizzie’s beautiful enactment of the role of the hapless Ophelia in a
performance of
he comes to his girlfriend Manjula and excitedly
has touched his heart and stirred him to his innermost depths and praises
Lizzif tbyioh, “Sif’t b vfsy �of bstitt. Fps tudi pfppmf xf dbo ibvf tpnf
sftpfdt. Epo’t ypu hft tisfe pg ypus �mnt? Amxbyt tif tbnf—tiohioh,
As Nandi Bhatia has perceptively observed, this positioning of
Siblftpfbsf bt b mfvfm bcpvf Iioei �mnt cy bo uppfs dmbtt Ioeibo it
indicative of elite attitudes, which reproduce the colonialist divisions
of “high” and “low” culture and treat popular Hindi cinema as “low”
art and also deny adequate respect to the practitioners of this art.
disparagement of art forms meant for the masses and its artists is not only
pfdumibs tp dpmpoibm dibsbdtfst tudi bt Sboku Sbi io tif �mn, cut it bmtp
displayed by certain critics such as Parama Roy, in whose perception
example of an Indian modernity,
characterized as it is by the
It seems that Roy is naturally aligning with an aristocratic and high cultural
order (that the Buckinghams feel they naturally belong to and Sanju Rai
is anyway part of by virtue of being descended from a feudal aristocratic
family) which belittles mass culture as immature, coarse and commercial,
especially as opposed to purist Shakespearean theatre. Although I do
bhsff xiti Spy xifo tif hpft po tp pspppuoe tibt tif mphid pg tif �mn it
“quasi-Orientalist” and that Manjula is simultaneously a representative
pg “Ioeibo npefsoity” boe “Ioeibo tsbeitipo,” I �oe it eig�dumt tp bddfpt
that it is so in its “worst aspects.”
That the mainstream cinema actress,
modernity and tradition is a parochial value judgement that Roy nurtures
pg tif �mn, xiidi tpfmmt eppn gps pusitt boe dpotfsvbtivf Siblftpfbsfbo
theatrical performances and depicts the allurement and success of popular
mass culture, the mainstream Hindi cinema of emerging and liberated
Io tif �mn, Sboku hftt bttsbdtfe tpxbset Lizzif cfdbutf tif pfsgpsnt
Siblftpfbsf, boe dpotiefst ifs b �ofs bstitt tibo Mbokumb, xipn if sfgfst
to as a mere “songstress.” This also emanates from a particular cultural
outlook that considered that, originally in India, professional actors mostly
belonged to lower castes whereas Shakespearean professional actors
have always been regarded very highly in dramatics per se, irrespective
of their blood or birth. Thus, when Lizzie enquires about his love affair
with Manjula, he protests, “What do I care for her? She’s only an actress.”
When the innocent Lizzie reminds him that she too, is an actress, Sanju
vehemently asserts, “No, you are different.” The difference cannot be
articulated even by the colonially educated Sanju because it is a psycho-
social perceptual position, deeply ingrained in a people, present over a vast
demographic entity with a long and colourful history, precisely what the
The aura and status that performing Shakespeare had endowed on Lizzie
in Sanju’s eyes is gradually dissipated when Sanju realizes that she too has
as public a life as any other actress (such as Manjula) and attracts similar
attention from males in the audience over which he has absolutely no
Lizzie and found her to be “different” as previously mentioned. She is
unique in that scenario. She neither belongs to the old colonial world
represented by her father and his troupe, the Indian maharaja, Sanju and
Mrs Bowen nor is she a part of the emerging new world and sensibilities
bt tffo sf�fdtfe io tif pg�dfs.io.dibshf pg tif tdippm, Mbokumb boe tif
audiences who often come to watch their performances without any
capacity for discernment or appreciation, and who do not pay obeisance
to the canonical Shakespeare. She occupies a curiously liminal space,
tpnfxifsf io cftxffo. Amtipuhi io tif �mn tif it b Siblftpfbsfbo
actress, she loves acting per se and not only acting Shakespeare. She is
Performing Shakespeare, which had been the marker of difference
Shakespeare is brought down from the pedestal when Sanju can no longer
appreciate Lizzie’s art and is unable to accept her in spite of her brave
attempt to embrace the old colonial world as represented by him. She offers
to give up everything, even acting, which is her life’s passion, for him, in
vbio. At tif foe pg tif �mn, Lizzif mfbvft Ioeib gps Eohmboe tp nblf ifs
fortunes in acting in the country of her origin after facing disappointment
in love. She represents the next generation and through her attempts to
acclimatize to the change in her life and her situation we harbour some
hopes of evolution, which was sorely lacking in the Buckinghams who
P
Lubna Chaudhry and Saba Khattak see in Lizzie’s departure to England,
after Sanju’s failure to commit to her, a gendered and political stance
psivimfhioh bmm tiioht Eohmiti boe gffm tibt tif �mnnblfst ibvf dsfbtfe
b �mn tibt yfbsot gps dpmpoibmitn.
In my reading, exactly the contrary
Vbmfsif Wbyof, po tif ptifs iboe, bshuft tibt tif �mn “efpidtt
dumtusbm iycsieity psinbsimy tispuhi tif �husf pg Sboku,” xip it tipxo
“coloniser and colonised, oppressor and oppressed.”
It may be opined
that given her nationality Lizzie may be thought of as a colonizer or
oppressor, but as a character and in her relation with Sanju she is neither.
Sanju too as a character may be colonized, even post-independence,
but is never oppressed. Sanju is limited by his typical orthodox Indian
male sensibility and not nationality, when he rejects Lizzie’s love. This
is because Lizzie ultimately fails to conform to his expectations of and
concept of a woman he would like to marry, given her strong female
identity, one who would be the treasure house of his family “izzat” or
honour and not have the kind of autonomy and choices that she exercises
so naturally in her life.
Fps Nboei Bibtib, iycsieity io tiit �mn gbimt dpnpmftfmy boe xf bsf
shown the general failure of the East and West to connect and merge
io Ioeib xifo vifxfe gspn b dpmpoibm pfstpfdtivf. Tif �mn efpidtt
the
passing of an era. According to her, Shakespeare and the Raj are
mbie tp sftt cy bo fnfshioh ofx Ioeib tibt Tif Budliohibn Pmbyfst �oe
Kfoebm xbt effpmy bhhsifvfe cy tif psfnitf pg tiit �mn bt if
thought that his touring company, Shakespeareana, had been a success
boe ibe tblfo Siblftpfbsf tp bmm dpsofst pg Ioeib. Iottfbe pg bg�snioh
boe dfmfcsbtioh tibt gfbt tif �mn tipxfe Tif Budliohibn Pmbyfst tp
not only be down on their luck and unsuccessful in procuring shows
for schools, but also overshadowed by the popular and alluring Hindi
npvif ioeuttsy. If gfmt tibt tif �mn “xbt io tpnf xbyt dmptf tp pus
It should be borne in mind that the existing reviews of some of
the performances of Shakespeareana were greatly favourable and
commendatory of their skills in acting and stagecraft. They performed
College Auditorium, Calcutta. R.H. Lesser reports that they had “caused
a sensation” and is appreciative of the use of spectacle and their talent in
bdtioh, boe �oet tif “bdtpst gummy eftfsvioh tif hsfbt bppmbutf bddpsefe
them.” Another review of their performances at the Shantiniketan open air
theatre that came out in
The Statesman
of 15 January 1954 also records that
Shakespeareana gave “two highly appreciated performances of
to capacity crowds”
bmm pg xiidi sfbg�snt
the sense of success that Kendal had about his touring company. He
records in his autobiography how only in August 1982, while watching
tif �mn po tfmfvitipo if �obmmy sfdpodimfe iintfmg tp itt efpidtipo pg tif
failure of a theatrical company in India disturbingly resembling his own
Shakespeareana enjoyed in India.
xiti tif diofnbtid nfeiun, tbyt bcput tif �mn
Shakespeare Wallah,
was ironic that in the whirligig of time it was the despised cinema that told
However, given Kendal’s personal sense of success and satisfaction
with his troupe Shakespeareana’s productions of Shakespeare in schools
boe dpmmfhft io Ioeib, tif �mn
efpidtt iit “�hit”
through the portrayal of The Buckingham Players only “to a certain
The Kendals, on the contrary, did receive appreciation in the English
theatre circuit and schools in India and although their group ultimately
disbanded and they were reduced to just husband and wife performing
some scenes from Shakespeare, their sojourn in India was not entirely
since they did perform up to
the mid-1980s. In 1990, Geoffrey and Laura Kendal were even honoured
At the same time, it is deeply ironical that their success and
contribution was recognized only in India and not in England. Ananda Lal
attributes this paradox to the Indians’ lack of adequate knowledge of British
theatre after independence and the Second World War and their colonial
hangover that led to their obeisance to and uncritical acceptance of all things
Bsititi, xiidi bmmpxfe tif Kfoebmt tp �mm io tif vbduun eusioh tif mbtf 1940t
and early 1950s when hardly any foreign Shakespeare companies toured
There were only a few exceptions, such as Norman Marshall and
According to Lal,
away from the classical elocutory and historical/pictorial style to highly
radical experiments by such directors as Barry Jackson (modern-
dress
Hamlet
, 1925), Fyodor Fyodorovich Komissarzhevsky/Theodore
, 1936)
P
1946; minimalistic
, 1947, “throwing out the scenery”).
The Kendals, however, had not evolved from the “classical elocutory
and historical/pictorial style” as Lal mentioned and had been untouched
by radicalism of any sort. They were forgotten, unlike these pioneers in
Britain who are still remembered and acknowledged for their avant-garde
techniques. As Lal succinctly puts it: “The Kendals had, in fact, passed
When Kendal was asked by Indu Saraiya in 1984 about the new
trends in English theatre, he had openly professed his ignorance by
sfnbslioh, “Eig�dumt tp tby.” If ibe gustifs efsiefe eisfdtpst xpslioh
with Shakespeare in Britain by calling them failed actors and ones who
not written with one idea—not by any means.”
Quite evidently, there
tif sbeidbm fypfsinfotbtipo psbdtitfe io Bsitbio, boe if �fsdfmy dmuoh tp
theatrical scene, the contribution of Shakespeareana and the Kendals to
the English-theatre circuit in India could never be written off. They did
leave an indelible impression especially in the minds of young Indian
actors who toured with them or saw their performances at an early age.
Many such actors later rose to prominence in their own right and often
A pipoffsioh �husf pg npefso Ioeibo tifbtsf boe Nbtipobm Axbse
Natak Akademi Fellowship for contribution to theatre in 1990, had worked
with the Kendals in the beginning of his tryst with theatre. His association
xiti tifn cfhbo tif �stt tinf tify ibe dpnf tp Cbmduttb io 1947, boe
India and Pakistan tour.
In an interview with Samik Bandyopadhyay,
repertory company from the Kendals and said that their theory of carrying
everything with them on their tour was the correct theory.
from them that “There is no art without discipline and no discipline without
Dutt even dedicated his book
(1972) to Geoffrey Kendal, proclaiming him to be his “guru,” one who
Acclaimed actor, writer, director and producer, Madhav Sharma, who
is now based in UK but worked with the Kendals at the beginning of his
career from 1960–62, calls them “The Good Companions” and asserts
transformed my life—teaching me that anything is possible in life if the
tide is taken at the flood, the importance of following one’s dream as long
as one is prepared for the inevitable hard work in learning any craft, and
also won the National Film Award thrice, recently in
on television, credited the inspiration
behind his foray into acting to be Geoffrey Kendal, who would perform
of selections from Shakespeare and his seamless transformations from
started out by imitating him. Naseeruddin calls Geoffrey Kendal his
“ustad,” which means “guru” or teacher, and describes their relationship
to be similar to that of the disciple–teacher duo of Ekalavya–Dronacharya
Nothing more can vouch for the success of the
Kendals as theatre practitioners in India and the influence they had on
budding talents. The Buckinghams of
Shakespeare Wallah
, unfortunately,
, directed by James Ivory (1965; New York: The Criterion
Cpmmfdtipo, 2004), EVE. Amm gutusf sfgfsfodft tp tif �mn gpmmpx gspn tiit boe ibvf
2.
See Dan Venning, “Cultural Imperialism and Intercultural Encounter in Merchant
16 October 2012, doi 10.1353/atj.2011.0000 and Nandi Bhatia,
of Resistance: Theatre and Politics in Colonial and Postcolonial India
Bhatia,
4.
5.
Geoffrey Kendal with Clare Colvin,
Kendal,
P
It nutt cf optfe ifsf tibt Siblftpfbsfbob xbt ofitifs tif �stt ops tif pomy tifbtsidbm
troupe of its kind that travelled to various parts of India performing Shakespearean
plays. Lewis’s theatrical troupe performed Shakespearean plays at Calcutta Maidan
Post the suppression of native drama that had been on the rise during the Swadeshi
movement after the Partition of Bengal in 1905, various troupes from London visited
Allen Weekly (1912) and Harding and Howitt (1918). The Grant Anderson Theatre
Company under the management of the English actor manager Anderson arrived in
India in 1930 and even employed the great Indian actor Prithviraj Kapoor who toured
India with this troupe and won great acclaim for his role of Laertes in
1948 Norman Marshall performed plays of Shakespeare in the cities of Delhi, Agra,
Allahabad, Calcutta and Bombay. Eric Eliot brought his acting troupe to India in 1951
55, 57, and Shashi Kapoor with Deepa
8.
Felicity Kendal,
See Felicity Kendal,
directed by Patrick Mc Grady and
presented by Felicity Kendal (Wavelength Films for BBC, 2012). All future references
John Pym,
The Wandering Company: Twenty-One Years of Merchant Ivory Films
Venning, “Cultural Imperialism and Intercultural Encounter,” 162.
performed by Ismail Merchant, James Ivory, Felicity
Kendal, and Shashi Kapoor (New York: The Criterion Collection, 2004), DVD. All
gutusf sfgfsfodft tp tiit iotfsvifx xiti tif �mnnblfst gpmmpx gspn tiit boe ibvf opt
I borrow this term from Jyotsna Singh’s article “Different Shakespeares: The Bard in
(1989):
The Films of Merchant Ivory
Shormishtha Panja, “Lebedeff, Kendal, Dutt: Three Travelers on The Indian Stage,”
Transnational Mobilities In Early Modern Theater,
Panja, “Lebedeff, Kendal, Dutt,” 254, 255.
Felicity Kendal, introduction to
See Vikram Singh Thakur, “Shakespeare Reception in India and The Netherlands until
14, no. 2
(2012), 1–9, accessed 25 October 2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/&#xht1t;p:1;&#x/1/1; x.d;&#xoi1.;&#xorg/;Đ.;睱&#x/114;腃t.1;門1481–4374.1958,
and Poonam Trivedi, introduction to
, eds. Poonam Trivedi and Dennis Bartholomeusz (Delhi: Pearson
Venning, “Cultural Imperialism and Intercultural Encounter,” 155.
28.
Nandi Bhatia, “Imperialistic Representations and Spectatorial Reception in
Shakespeare
45, no. 1 (2002): 61+, accessed 30 December 2013,
URL http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA97755086&v=2.1&u=
30.
(Manchester: Manchester University
Ania Loomba and Martin Orkin, “Introduction: Shakespeare and the Post-Colonial
34.
John C. Tibbetts, “Backstage with the Bard: Or, Building a Better Mousetrap,”
Literature-Film Quarterly
29, no. 2 (April 2001): 10, accessed 31 December 2013,
Bhatia, “Imperialistic Representations.”
Roy, “Reading Communities and Culinary Communities,” 492.
41.
Lubna Chaudhry and Saba Khattak, “Images of White Women and Indian Nationalism:
Gender and
eds. Nitaya Masavisut, George Simon, and Larry E. Smith (Honolulu: University
of Hawai ‘i Press, 1994) 19–25, discussed in Venning, “Cultural Imperialism and
Valerie Wayne, “
Shakespeare Wallah
and Colonial Specularity,” in
Shakespeare: The
, eds. Lynda E. and Richard Burt
Boose (London: Routledge, 1997), 101, quoted in Venning, “Cultural Imperialism and
45.
Ananda Lal and Sukanta Chaudhuri eds.
Shakespeare on the Calcutta Stage: A Checklist
Panja, “Lebedeff, Kendal, Dutt,” 256.
Venning, “Cultural Imperialism and Intercultural Encounter,” 162.
P
50.
Ananda Lal, e-mail message to author, 12 July 2015. My deepest gratitude to Professor
Ananda Lal, Department of English, Jadavpur University, for discussing this issue with
See note 7.
Ananda Lal, e-mail message to author, 12 July 2015.
Ananda Lal, 12 July 2015.
Indu Saraiya, “The Shakespearewallah’s Remembrance of Things Past,”
The Sunday
See Samik Bandyopadhyay, “Utpal Dutt: An Interview by Samik Bandyopadhyay,”
Contemporary Indian Theatre: Interviews with Playwrights and Directors,
Jacob (New Delhi: Sangeet Natak Akademi, 1989), 12, and Arup Mukhopadhyay,
Utpal
Bandyopadhyay, “Utpal Dutt,” 12.
59.
Madhav Sharma, e-mail message to author, 28 September 2014. I would like to thank my
dear friend Ms Thea Buckley, doctoral student of The Shakespeare Institute, England,
for providing me with the contact information of Mr Madhav Sharma and enabling
me to communicate with him. My sincerest gratitude to Mr Sharma for responding to
Naseeruddin Shah, interview by Anupam Kher,
The Anupam Kher Show—Kucch bhi
Mapping Shakespearean
Translations in Indian
Literatures
It has been generally presumed that the early Shakespearean translations
into Indian languages followed a two-phase activity, an early phase
of adaptations, followed by a phase of faithful literary translations.
Generalizing on a conspicuous characteristic feature of translation activity
have pointed out that Kannada’s response to Shakespeare represents two
ambivalent and parallel streams of sensibilities: one corresponding to
literary tradition, which could be roughly identified as sensitive to the
educational and academic, and the other to the stage tradition, which could
be identified with a newly emerging public sphere. However, it is worth
noting that Murthyrao actually points out that stage versions preceded
subsume a text-centred approach of literary analysis and consider faithful
as literary texts rather than as theatrical productions and not as studies of
public sphere and its sensibilities. On the contrary, it has also been pointed
that many early adaptations have been done to cater to the culture-specific
needs such as divergent social sensibilities of the theatre going audience
T.S. S
who were not exposed to English and its literary culture.
Above all, it is
the itinerant nature of the professional theatre that constantly facilitated
modifications in the textual and production aspects of early Indian
drama and this led to transformations. Issues such as the plays chosen
for translation, the background of the translators and the nature of the
India, as a majority of the early plays adopted during this period were, in
fact, meant for the use of professional theatre groups. Transformations in
theme, locale, characterization, genre, structure, and so on keeps taking
place in early Shakespearean translations and a majority of them appear to
be centred around the audience’s sensibility and sensitivity to culture. It
is pertinent to point out that in the prefaces to their Kannada translations
M.S. Puttanna and Srikantheshagowda have attempted to justify their
transformations by suggesting cultural appropriateness as being the reason
There is a need to see theatre as a potential platform for discursive
the subsequent discussions. As the discussions and debates pertaining
includes scripto-centric, phono-centric and body-centric representations,
the theatrical public sphere may be considered as one of the most effective
public spheres for the communication and circulation of ideas. Theatre
bt pucmid tpifsf it bdtubmmy b npei�dbtipo pg pucmid tpifsf tifpsy gspn
a focus on the political accomplishment of a single economic class to a
In order to understand and map the processes involved in the
transformation of Shakespearean plays during the early phase of Indian
translation, we need to take a look at the bibliographic information available
on Shakespearean translations in Indian languages. Methodologically
speaking, a database of Shakespearean translations in Indian languages
that includes the name of the translator, the year of translation, the title
aspects like title transformation, background of the translators, publishers
and the professional theatre companies for whom the translations were
made can provide us an understanding of Shakespearean translations in
a comparative perspective within the theatrical public sphere and literary
the bibliographic information available in the bibliographies is not
uniform across different Indian literatures and, hence, comparisons might
not provide an actual picture of the translation activity. Elsewhere, for
and I have avoided going into such an analysis here. Several
studies such as Bhatia,
Gokhale,
Hansen,
Lal and Chaudhuri,
Loomba,
Mohanty,
Singh,
and Trivedi and Bartholomeusz
are some
of the attempts to map Shakespeare in Indian languages. A majority of
them take positions looking at Shakespeare either from the perspective
of text or theatre (director/actor/performance). Against such a backdrop,
the present study is an attempt to map Shakespearean translations from a
The early adaptations of Shakespeare into Indian languages, many of
which have often been claimed as unfaithful and have been criticized,
actually deserve a relook as zones of hybridity. If these early adaptations
cultures then we can have at least two different points of viewing the
bdtivity pg tsbotmbtipo. Tif �stt pof it b Eusp.dfotsid pptitipo pg nbppioh
dpume cf spuhimy eftihobtfe bt tif io�ufodf boe sfdfptipo npefm pg
understanding the translation process. Alternatively, we can think of an
Indian literatures-centric position from which the translation process
could be mapped. Such a model not only maps the translation processes
to understand adaptations within the cultural context in which they were
produced and consumed. Such a perspective also reverses the dominant
Euro-centric view of translation theory and instead provides a view that
maps the translation activity from within the translating culture. Thus,
the issue of originality and unfaithfulness in translation is contested and,
instead, the ways in which a recipient culture maps and negotiates the
cultural differences is addressed. In fact, many early translators have
prompted them to adapt rather than seek literal translations. In addition,
mapped in order to understand these translations within such a cultural
context. A margino-centric perspective rightly addresses these issues.
understanding a relationship in terms of a centre to margin approach,
which could be a relationship of power. It also suggests that margino-
centricism as perspectives from the margin are pluralistic in nature, as
T.S. S
margins are multiple whereas centre is unitary. Furthermore, within the
dominant centre and oppressed margin(s) relationship, it also suggests a
counter-structure and subversion. Some scholars believe that a passive
io�ufodf pg Sbotlsit ppftidt boe bo bdtivf io�ufodf pg Sbotlsit esbnb (boe
that consequent to the emergence of a theatrical public sphere during the
nineteenth century, in which the modern Indian drama and Shakespearean
combined the Indian classical tradition, European colonial modernity and
Shakespeare has been widely adapted and translated into different Indian
languages, particularly for theatre during the early phase. In order to
modern Indian theatre as public sphere, in which the majority of the
audiences were neither familiar with the canon of their own classical
theatre nor with that of the European theatre. Thus, neither dramaturgy
of Sanskrit and/or vernacular theatre traditions, nor that of the European
tradition was easily accessible when the modern Indian theatre as a public
traditions that existed in different regional and vernacular traditions of
India. However, this will not rule out the possibility of permeation of the
elements of the previously mentioned traditions into popular and folk
performing traditions in the vernacular folk theatre traditions of India.
cultural characteristics. Popularly known as Parsi theatre all over India,
in several Indian languages and
in
Marathi, these adaptations reproduced translations and adaptations of
classical Sanskrit plays and Shakespearian plays within the context of the
French melodramas). These adaptations were quite removed from both
whatever was available within the folk and popular theatre traditions in
Indian vernacular performing traditions on the other. It is the emergence
and development of this theatrical public sphere and its sensibilities that
Tipuhi tif Pbsti tifbtsf xbt opt tif �stt tp cfdpnf nutidbm, it
�pusitife nbiomy io tif gpsnfs Bpncby Psftiefody pspviodf boe itt
tpifsf pg io�ufodf xbt dpo�ofe nbiomy tp tif sbimxby sputft dpoofdtioh
various cities of British India. However, the productions of the Parsi
theatre owe much to Shakespeare and to the Shakespearean productions
from England. Interestingly, the musical components of Parsi theatre as
well as other vernacular and regional theatres actually came from the
indigenous classical, popular and folk traditions. At the same time, it is
the stagecraft, themes and stage conventions, lighting and costumes that
the Parsi theatre took from the west. Above all, Parsi theatre was quick to
discover the commercial potentialities of not only the indigenous traditions
but also the Shakespearean and other Western theatrical techniques. As
a matter of fact, it is now presumed that the Parsi theatre borrowed little
from Shakespeare beyond the general outlines of the plot, but the theatre
companies ensured the biggest and most widely circulated presence of
Shakespeare within the Indian theatrical scene. Many travelling theatres
At the same time, many of these
pfsgpsnbodft xfsf nbef iotp �mnt io tif timfot fsb boe tifo sfpspeudfe
in the early talkie era. In a sense, the Parsi theatre was not only modern
Ioeib’t �stt dpnnfsdibm uscbo tifbtsf cut dpotfrufot tp itt pfoftsbtipo
iotp tif mfohti boe csfbeti pg tif dpuotsy, it xbt bmtp Ioeib’t �stt obtipobm
The vernacular company theatres in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil,
Tfmuhu boe Kboobeb, xitiio tifis sftpfdtivf itiofsbsy tpifsft, �mmfe
up the gaps left over by the itinerary of the Parsi theatre companies.
Furthermore, the itineraries of these vernacular theatre companies
acted as a complementary mode of popularizing the musical theatre and
creating a new public sphere. These vernacular theatre companies moved
and such traditional
precolonial public spheres in the linguistic regions where they operated. As
the geography of such itineraries also constituted long standing bilingual
regions, they also acted as catalysts in the spread and popularization of the
T.S. S
the vernacular and regional theatre public spheres. Above all, there was
proscenium theatre, the pan-Indian Parsi theatre, the regional company
theatres and the local folk theatres that levelled the radical differences that
could have existed among these divergent theatrical traditions and made
If one looks at the fertile crop of Shakespearean translations in Marathi,
and notes that a majority of them done during
the early phase were translations for the professional companies, then
tif tihoi�dbot spmf pmbyfe cy tif nutidbm dpnpboy tifbtsft io tif fbsmy
phase of Shakespearean translations becomes evident. The intention of
the present study is not to map such a vast body of translations in Indian
languages as the bibliographic information regarding Shakespearean
The interventions of the Parsi theatre in the development of a hybrid
sensibility that is a composite of the European and classical Indian
sensibilities could be understood not only by the fact that a single
translator has translated both Kalidasa and Shakespeare in several Indian
languages, but also from the fact that even in the absence of a single
tsbotmbtps epioh tp tif eiggfsfodf io yfbst cftxffo tif �stt tsbotmbtipot pg
Kalidasa and Shakespeare is negligible. Furthermore, there are attempts
by the translators and theatre companies to synthesize the two authors
in their respective activities of translating and staging. For instance,
in 1831, Babu Prasanna Kumar Tagore established the Hindu Theatre in
Cbmduttb. Tif �stt oihit’t pfsgpsnbodf dpotittfe pg fytsbdtt gspn
However, this performance was in English. Apart from such attempts,
Yogesh Kabya
Chandra Bandopadhyay has a protagonist who has been modelled as
to Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti and Harsha but also to Shakespeare, Milton,
Wordsworth, Shelley and Tennyson.
All these attempts suggest how
It is interesting to note that as eighteenth century Europe eagerly
translated Kalidasa and other Sanskrit classics into different European
languages, the zeal for translating Shakespeare into Sanskrit could also
be seen. This zeal was so intense that a Sanskrit translation of the play
A Midsummer Night’s
Dream
as
Vasantikasvapnah
by Paravastu R. Krishna Rao-Acharya
appeared in 1895. The translator’s objective, according to his introduction,
show India’s educated elite that Shakespeare wrote as well as Kalidasa,
or vice versa. In fact, starting from William Jones, Kalidasa has been
repeatedly called “the Shakespeare of Hindustan.” A Sanskrit translation
appeared in 1964 and a translation of
Io tiit dpoofdtipo, it it iotfsfttioh tp tblf b mppl bt tif �stt bppfbsbodf
of translations from Kalidasa and Shakespeare in Indian languages.
Tbcmf
8.1 pspvieft iogpsnbtipo sfhbseioh tif �stt tsbotmbtipot pg Kbmiebtb’t
and the plays of Shakespeare. While in Bengali, Marathi and
Telugu, Tamil and Urdu the gap is six years. In Gujarati, Hindi and Oriya
the gap ranges from 12 to 17 years. In these languages too the tendency to
translate Kalidasa and Shakespeare more or less at the same time exists.
The Malayalam translations, however, remain to be scrutinized. The case
of Assamese deserves a special mention here, as it is a classic case of
hybridity involving Shakespeare, Kalidasa and the medieval Assamese
in the year 1857, Gunabhiram
Bbsub xsptf tif �stt npefso Attbnftf pmby,
(published
Romeo and
interspersed with elements from Kalidasa’s
In addition, the play also incorporated medieval Assamese Vaishnavite
Ramnavami
epitomizes the hybridity of colonial modernity represented by
the Shakespearean theme, traditionality and classicism represented by
Kalidasa, and the regional performative tradition represented through
elements from Ankiya Nat. However,
The Comedy of Errors
, translated
Tif tihoi�dbot inpmidbtipo pg dmuttfsioh tphftifs pg tif tsbotmbtipot pg
Kalidasa and Shakespeare in Indian languages suggests the overlapping
nature of colonial modernity and Indian classicism and the hybridity
these translations were intended for the theatre companies, it further
substantiates the role played by the newly emerging sensibilities of the
Commenting on the nature of hybridity, Chatterjee
24
observes as
Attempts in different parts of India, be it Bengal, Bombay Presidency
or other places of theatre activity, were to synthesize the varied strands
privileged position because of an inherent bias towards the West by the
English-educated class that was emerging on the scene. In this regard,
draws our attention to Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s assessment of
Shakespeare as “the one man in the world’s literature whose works hold
T.S. S
up a mirror to every possible pathos of man’s inner life” and Hemachandra
Bandopadhyay’s eulogy of Shakespeare: “Kalidasa belongs to India, you
to the world.” There were also attempts to undertake comparative analyses
of the characters Miranda, Desdemona and Shakuntala by Bankim Chandra
Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore. The translations of such analyses
appeared in Indian languages serving as ideal models for a comparative
study of Western colonial modernity and Indian classicism. Furthermore,
such comparisons claim that Shakespeare’s heroines were timeless
The early phase of Indian modernism characteristically consists of a
pro-modernity position that corresponds with colonial modernity, a pro-
traditionality position that corresponds with classicism and traditionality,
boe b tiise iycsie pptitipo tibt it b tyotiftit pg tif �stt txp. Tif fbsmy
modern theatre, by the very nature of its divergent audience sensibilities,
represents the hybrid position. No other schematic diagram than the
of hybridity that is being suggested here. Adya Rangacharya’s (Sriranga)
(Shakespeare of ordinary people) in
Kalidasa and Shakespeare
Hand in Hand, Suggesting the Hybridity of Indian
Shekspiyarige Namaskara
(salute to Shakespeare), edited by Balurao
to demonstrate one of the important statements, “Kalidasa as Shakespeare
helps us to appreciate its
Kalidasa and Shakespeare are represented with hand in hand and dressed
in appropriate attires, suitable to the worlds that they represent. While
Kalidasa has a palm-leaf manuscript in his hand, Shakespeare has a scroll.
Everything looks like a perfect demonstration of a harmonious East–West
encounter. However, a closer look reveals that Kalidasa is represented
iconographic tradition,
(left) conventionally suggests inferiority and
Here, Kalidasa could be easily replaced by Vyasa or any other ancient
Indian theatre needs to be mapped. At the same time, it could also serve
as a margino-centric approach, that is, reading hybridity in terms of
Indian sensibilities or understanding Shakespeare through theatre and the
itself. It is not just accidental that during the period of early modern Indian
drama many writers who translated Kalidasa in Indian languages have also
translated Shakespeare. It has been observed that there are several such
instances from different Indian languages. Both Kalidasa and Shakespeare
have been translated by Lala Sitaram in Hindi, Govina Pilla in Malayalam,
Atulchandra Hazarika in Assamese, Kumara Guruparar and P.
Sambandha
Mudaliyar in Tamil, and Basavappa Shastry, D.V. Gundappa and
Masti VenkateshaIyengar in Kannada.
29
In the case of Marathi, G.B.
(1887)
(1890) for the Aryoddharak Dramatic Company. It is noteworthy that
T.S. S
were
translating from Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti and Shudraka from classical Sanskrit
and Shakespeare from English, and were also writing independent plays in
which they appear to have freely mixed themes and conventions from both
the cultural sources. As a consequence, both classical Sanskrit plays and
Shakespearean plays had to be not only translated by the same translator
and at the same point of time as we have seen before, but the plays of the
two traditions underwent changes to create hybrid thematic and structural
patterns during this period. In fact, we can see the emergence of a uniform
structural pattern in thematic, musical, stagecraft and audience sensibilities.
Hence, there is a need to look at early modern translations from an
audience-centred perspective, in order to capture the essence of the
transformations that have gone into these translations. As a case study,
’s Kannada translation (Curamari
Kannada translation
Pramilarjuniyam
(Srikantheshagowda, 1886) are
ttsudtusfe, boe b tihoi�dbot spmf it pmbyfe cy tif tfoticimitift pg tif
The verse format of Kalidasa has been translated into a corresponding
other times experimenting with a different one but from the Sanskrit
but usually referred popularly as
adaptation (vritta
and kanda).The prosaic Sanskrit dialogues of Kalidasa
Karnataka region by Sheshagirirao. Srikantheshagowda uses the standard
and
Rati-Manmatha
episodes) and a lower variety for the rude mechanicals
(play within a play). Several songs have been written by both the translators
to suit the nature of the musical theatre that was prevalent and popular
around that time, which were new introductions into these translations.
translation contains songs based on classical
from Karnataki and
bhajans
) and also folk tunes (
saki
and
lavani
Pramilarjuniyam
has more
or less a similar format, though Karnataki ragas are more frequently used
(popular Telugu and Kannada
kirtan
tunes). Both translations consistently
instruments,) ragas for songs (music with
tabla/mridangam/dholak
There is a need to understand this translation strategy from the point of
view of audience sensibilities, the public sphere. As pointed out earlier, the
early modern theatre was itinerant in nature and professional in approach.
regional sensibilities. It is this diversity that has gone into the construction
of these adaptations. The use of the Sanskrit verse format and the vilambit
gamaka style of music suggest that attempts were made to preserve the
classical dimension of Sanskrit/Kannada literary tradition intact in the
adaptations. An attempt was made to keep the ornamentation intact, both
in textual and musical formats. This was done to cater to the sophisticated
sensibilities of the elite section of the audience. We need to remember
that these verses could only be recited melodiously in a vilambit
style. In addition, they gave the actor enough liberty to explore both the
be sung and expanded but could also be repeated as refrains. However,
a majority of the audience were ordinary, illiterate people. Verse format
was too pedantic a style for them. Hence, folk tunes were introduced to
The songs, making use of the ragas, but sung without any elaboration,
were a characteristic of folk theatre. However, they were contained
by the rhythmic beat of tabla
mridangam
dholak, the refrain–verse
combination and a premediated trajectory. These songs used to follow
the tunes of classical style music, both Hindustani and Karnataki.
format and the folk tune/standard language/vulgar dialect format of
the dialogues, and created a smooth intermediate zone. They also
catered to the sensibilities of a newly emerging middle class who were
. This musical format appears to be in continuity with medieval
Bhakti sectarian communities in which the musical and lyrical aspects
Shakuntalam
systematically mention the
tunes to be used for the songs. While
’s songs use tunes
) songs and folk
tunes,
Pramilarjuniyam
songs are based on tunes from Telugu devotional
compositions. The very fact that the two texts were written and used in
the northern and southern parts of Karnataka explains the sensitivity of
the translators to their audience community. In a way, the emergence of
T.S. S
such a hybrid format not only brought closer the segregated precolonial
public spheres, namely, the royal, the religious and the open, but also
helped in sensitizing the different spheres to each other.
Tisff eittiodt ttymft sf�fdt tisff pibtft pg tif pfsipeizbtipo pg Kboobeb
literature: the ancient Kannada (
), medieval Kannada (
) that applies equally well
style predominantly
represents the ancient (old) Kannada format (the ornate
songs represent predominantly the medieval Kannada format (bhakti
poems and their singing tradition) and the prose style represents the modern
period of the formation of Kannada identity, a reconceptualization of the
Kannada literary tradition within the public sphere of theatre, involving
its classical, medieval and modern periods was an urgent necessity.
Tif �stt iittpsy pg Kboobeb mitfsbtusf, bmcfit csifg, xsittfo cy F. Kittfm,
The discussion on the structuring of the translation process can be
schematically shown in Figure 8.3. These adaptations were catering to
three levels of audience, the elite, the newly emerging middle class and
Ve
rse and
V
ilambit. gamak
a
Elite audience
ut csif�y tblf b mppl bt Sbkb Lbybnbo Siohi’t tsbotmbtipo pg
and compare with the structure of the two Kannada translations
tibt bsf psfviputmy eitduttfe. Sbkb Lbynbo Siohi, b optbcmf �husf io tif
pre-Bhartendu era, translated Kalidasa’s
in 1862–63 as
Shakuntala Natak
. Tifsf it b ibsnpoiput uoi�dbtipo pg
verse, song and dialogue in the text. Laxman Singh uses
chaupai, sortha,
sawai, kundaliya, chappai
the Sutradhar in the prologue sings songs using Dhrupad style of singing,
Bhairavi
and
Basant
ragas. Laxman Singh also uses Braj Bhasha
for the verse translation and Khari Boli for the dialogues. The
chhand
and
music are interwoven in the play’s text in an inherently complementary
manner. Braj Bhasha and the metrical structure used in the text both render
tifntfmvft �ufotmy tp tif psobnfotbm mbohubhf (
alankara
), classical ragas
theatrically. A comparison of the three translations in terms of their
Several translations of
during this phase in Marathi,
Gujarati, Telugu and Tamil follow this scheme. A similar verse-song-
translations of Shakespeare. Many Marathi and Gujarati translations of
Siblftpfbsf eusioh tiit pfsipe dbssy tif psf�y
Table Showing the Comparison of Linguistic and Musical Structures in the
T.S. S
this format was the characteristic feature of translations during this period.
(1880, trans. Dattatray Anant Keskar),
Prataparao ani Manjula
(1882, trans. Eknath Vishnu Musale),
(1908, trans. Dattatraya Anant Keskar) and
(1908). Thus, the early phase of modern Indian drama was a
theatrical public sphere that, despite being simultaneously performed in
several languages all over India, used more or less a multi-layered, hybrid
structural format that was necessitated by the impact of colonial modernity,
a need for the reformulation of classicism due to emerging nationalism
The emergence of modern Indian drama and the new theatrical public
sphere within which it was located was not fully modern European, nor
classical Indian or indigenous folk. This is further problematized when
we understand the precolonial public spheres and the transformations that
The public sphere as a concept formulated by Habermas that puts
forward bourgeois rational–critical debate centring on the developments
in Britain, France and Germany during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries in Europe has been extended to involve a plurality of independent
print culture. As a consequence, discussions on the public sphere have
been constrained to include precolonial Indian spheres. Hasan
argues that multiple, contrasting public spheres were in existence in India
The precolonial traditional public spheres in India consisted of the
political (royal court), the religious (temple, dargah,
and so on) and
the open (village fair,
and so on) spheres. However, they were
fairly segregated and were not overlapping in nature except for certain
identity formations, we notice the emergence of a print-culture-centred
public sphere. Bakhle
points out the need to posit a musical public sphere
looking into the emergence of an identity of national music consequent
to the formation of music appreciation groups, learning of music through
academic schools and institutions, and the canonization of music. Indian
classical dance, in particular
, appears to have followed
a similar trajectory. As with music and dance, there is a need to posit a
In recent years, the public sphere as a conceptual construct has begun to
mutate from a zone of bourgeois rational–critical debate to a plurality of
independent publics, often formed around identity markers like gender,
There is a need to see theatre as a potential platform for discursive
the subsequent discussions. As the discussions and debates pertaining
includes scripto-centric, phono-centric and body-centric representations,
the theatrical public sphere may be considered as one of the most effective
public spheres for the communication and circulation of ideas. Theatre
as a public sphere is actually a modification of public sphere theory from
a focus on the political accomplishment of a single economic class to a
epistemologies are present simultaneously. As de Tocqueville
No literary pleasures are more accessible to the crowd than those that
come from seeing a play. To experience them requires neither study nor
preparation. They grip you in the midst of your preoccupations and your
ignorance. When a class of citizens first begins to feel for the pleasures of
the mind a love still half-uncivilized, it immediately takes to drama. The
theatres of aristocratic nations have always been filled with non-aristocrats.
Only in the theatre did the upper classes mingle with the middle and lower
classes and agree, if not to accept their opinion, then at least to suffer them
Shifting the focus from a Euro-centric and language-centred understanding
of translation, the discussion of the characteristic features of modern
Indian theatre as a theatrical public sphere shifts the focus to the cultural
context of the translating and performing languages, thereby advocating
for a margino-centric and localized approach for the study of translation.
T.S. S
The hybridity involving classical, popular and folk on the one hand and
verse, song and prose on the other as structural categories on which such
a hybridity is constructed helps us to understand and appreciate not only
the strategies and processes of early Indian theatre but also the techniques
and models used by translators during this phase of translation. There is
a need to revisit early adaptations as multi-layered constructions, making
use of the comparative Indian perspective, incorporate transmediality
and locate them within the intersecting zone of a composite cultural
theatrical public sphere that involves colonial modernity, nationalism
and regional identity formation. Thus, Shakespearean translations during
adaptations and unfaithful, are actually the cultural characteristics of a
new theatrical public sphere that emerged during an important cultural
A.N. Murthyrao, “Shakespeare and Karnataka.”
2.
Sukanta Chaudhuri,
Sakshi Soni and T.S. Satyanath, “Shakespearean
Dream
as
Pramilarjuniyam
in Kannada,” in
Global World of Shakespeare Translations,
Sudi kutti�dbtipot dpume cf tffo io tif dbtf pg ptifs hfosft, milf tif opvfm. Pbeillbm
Nāeu.oueiybsūpblb: sāttsb,
Āeiuoilbtf nbttu lboobebeb npebmb
lāebncbsihbm
. [Mangalagangotri: Mangalore University, 2001], 56–57) provides
bo iottbodf pg tudi b kutti�dbtipo gspn tif Psfgbdf pg
Chaturyollasini
romance written by Gubbi Murigaradhya in 1896. Murigaradhya uses
T.S. Satyanath, “How does Shakespeare Become
Sekh Pir
in Kannada,”
1 no. 2 (2004), 44–102 and “Remapping Shakespeare in Kannada,” in
, ed. P.P. Giridhar (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi,
Nandi Bhatia, ed.
Modern Indian Theatre: A Reader
. (New Delhi: Oxford University
7.
Shanta Gokale,
Playwright at the Centre: Marathi Drama from 1843 to the Present
8.
Kathryn Hansen, “The Birth of Hindi Drama in Benaras, 1868–1885,” in
Power in Benaras: Community, Performance and Environment, 1800–1990
Sandria B. Freitag (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 62–92, Kathryn Hansen,
“Parsi Theatre and the City: Locations, Patrons and Audiences,” in
Sarai Reader 2002:
The Cities of Everyday Life
9.
Ananda Lal and Sukanta Chaudhuri, ed.
Shakespeare on the Calcutta Stage: A Checklist
10.
Ania Loomba, “Shakespearian Transformations,” in
Shakespeare and National Culture
Sangita Mohanty,
(doctoral dissertation, University of Basel,
12.
Shakespeare in Indian Languages
(Shimla: Indian Institute of
Jyotsna G. Singh, “Different Shakespeares: The Bard in Colonial/Postcolonial India.”
41.4 (1989), 445–58; and Singh, ed. “Shakespeare and the Civilizing
Mission,” in
Colonial Narratives/Cultural Dialogues: Discoveries of India in the
Poonam Trivedi and Dennis Bartholomeusz, eds.
India’s Shakespeare: Translation,
Hansen, “Parsi Theatre and the City,” 381–405.
18.
Inder Sabhha:
Understanding Early Modern Indian Theatre and the Public Sphere
. I am thankful to
Although, Marathi and Tamil bibliographic information that I have is fairly extensive
(Marathi: 78 translations till 1947, Patil 1993; and Tamil: 209 translations till 1982,
Sisir Kumar Das,
A History of Indian Literature: 1800–1910, Western Impact: Indian
Some scholars mention the name of the translator as R. Krishnamacharya.
22.
Dhurjjati Sarma, “Shakespeare in Indian: Colonial Modernity, Nationality and Regional
Identities.” (unpublished MPhil dissertation, Department of Modern Indian Languages
Tifsf it bmtp b sf�ofe tsbotmbtipo pg
that appeared as Kerala Verma’s
24.
(Kolkata:
Sisir Kumar Das,
A History of Indian Literature: 1800–1910, Western Impact: Indian
S. Balurao, ed.
Satyanath, “How does Shakespeare Become
29.
Himani Kapoor, “Mapping Shakespeare and Kalidasa: Early Indian Translations.”
T.S. S
Sfvfsbm Ioeibo mitfsbtusft xitofttfe tif bppfbsbodf pg tifis �stt iittpsy pg mitfsbtusf io
Farhat Hasan, “Forms of Civility and Publicness in Pre-British India,” in
Public Sphere and Citizenship: Dialogues and Perceptions
, eds Rajiv Bhargava and
Janaki Bakhle,
Two Men and Music: Nationalism in the Making of an Indian Classical
Robert B. Shimko and Sarah Freeman, “Introduction: Theatre, Performance and the
Alexis de Tocqueville, “Some Observations on the Theatre of Democratic Peoples,” in
Kironmoy Raha says that it was to ease the tedium of English social life
in India that theatre, in the Western sense of the term, made its inroad
to Calcutta in 1775.
Soon, the need for a Bengali theatre, following the
In this vast city, various centres have already been established for the
benefit and amelioration of the citizens which is unprecedented. But, unlike
the English community, no public space has been created to provide them
Bongiyo Natyoshala
(playhouses in Bengal) comments that prior to the establishment of
the Hindu College the Bengalis did not feel the need of a “European
entertainment.” An account of the impact of the education imparted by
the college can be found in
(Ramtanu Lahiri and contemporary Bengal) by Shibnath Shastri. He
documents the euphoria engendered by the lectures of Captain D.L.
Richardson among his maverick students and his constant encouragement
to visit the English theatres. Shakespeare became a cult figure in no time.
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The following observation of S.K. Bhattacharyya reveals the precise nature
While the English play-houses by their production of English, specially
foundation of the Hindu College in 1816 and the teaching of Shakespeare by
eminent teachers like Richardson created in the minds of the students—the
intelligentsia of modern Bengal—a literary taste for drama as such, and
taught them, not only how to appreciate Shakespeare critically, but also
to recite and act scenes from his plays. This fashion spread to every
academic institution.... So it came about that recitations from Shakespeare
and production of Shakespeare’s dramas became an indispensable part of
It is also pertinent to note here that the first Bengali theatre established
by Proshonno Kumar Thakur. It was called Hindoo Theatre and it saw
in the original and
Wilson’s English translation of Bhavabhuti’s
Uttbs Sāndibsit
(the tale of Rama’s later life) on the opening night of 28 December 1831.
Hurro Chunder Ghose, a playwright, was in the managing committee of
this theatre. Roughly twenty years later, the ambience became congenial
for Gupta and Ghose to undertake the pioneering enterprises of presenting
Though the presence of English is indubitable, and the tradition of
the reading and staging of Shakespeare did come as a result of foreign
education, it is also equally important to consider Jasodhara Bagchi’s
observation: “[T]he initiative of learning English and reading English
literature certainly did not come from the colonial masters”
of Macaulay’s “Minutes on Indian Education” (1835) might lead us to
surmise. Bagchi demarcates the “ambivalence in our approach to English
xiidi ifmpt ut uoefsttboe tif eimfnnb xf �oe io tif pmbyt
of Jogendro Chondro Gupto and Hurro Chunder Ghose. Regarding the
‌‌‌ estern learning that would at the same time be capable of upholding
the orthodox Hindu social hierarchies. The paradox of both class
formation and English studies in India is to be found in the naming of
the new college of “modernisation” Hindu college. Stringent stipulations
about Hindu caste and creed had to be fulfilled in order for one to be
admitted to the college.... The literary reception of the west into Bengal
was a major part of the paradoxical class formation in Bengal under the
It is in this context that the plays selected for this essay need to be read.
However, we would first like to take a quick glance at the existing critical
literature in order to justify our thesis. Most of the works that engage with
the English/Western/Shakespearean impact on literatures in the Indian
languages, though laudatory in their own right, study the influence of
Shakespeare on the Indian stage and ignore the plays that were never
performed. These critiques, thus, undermine the bold pioneering attempts
of indigenizing Shakespeare—an omission that our essay endeavours to
redress.
It was R.K. DasGupta who first articulated the literary importance
the renaissance in Bengal in his essay “Shakespeare in Bengali Literature”
(1964). It was soon followed by Jasodhara Bagchi’s article, “A Note on
Bengali Translations of Shakespeare: 1850–1900” (1965), which devoted
a brief section on the style and content of
Bhanumoti Chittobilash
. Bagchi
makes no mention of
Published in 1852, Jogendra Chandra Gupta’s play
the first tragedy in Bengali and also the first somewhat servile attempt to
endorse Shakespeare on the Bengali stage in an indigenous form, was never
performed. As Monindrolal Kundu in his book
It is not hard to locate the influence of Shakespeare’s
Even so, the playwright’s assay of depicting the intricacies of
, has taken little but the overall
structure and the tragic element of the play that goes against the
tradition. Gupta indulges in a five-page long preface to his play in order to
justify his pioneering resistance to and digression from the
tradition.
He critiques the Sanskrit tradition, which considered that a play should
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never end or conclude depicting the hero, an emblem of virtue incarnate, in
a pitiful state or dead. Arguing in favour of the tragic over the comic, Gupta
refers to Seneca, Shakespeare and Aristotle, and concludes, following an
sati and her husband, that “delight is momentary, but the impact of pathos
lingers on.”
The liberated Gupta also denies the general belief that the
depiction of an ill-fated hero is unrighteous. We may also refer to the
rediscovered only in 1901 by T. Ganapati Shastri in a village in Kerala,
near modern Thiruvananthapuram, as Sisir Kumar Das has pointed out.
However, as H.N. DasGupta states, the conclusion of the play does not
go against the general character of Sanskrit drama because it “does not
produce any grief in the minds of the audience.” Duryodhan is punished
Another departure from the indigenous tradition can be seen in the
short exchanges in prose, relegating the lengthy lyrical utterances only
, the expressions of intense emotion and the few aphoristic
moral passages directed towards the audience. However, it must also be
that follows Nandi, is in sync with the Sanskrit dramatic tradition. This
dpovfstbtipo sfvfbmt tif psftfodf boe io�ufodf pg pbtsibsdiy. Tif pptitipo
Nati: My Lord; how will this shy woman recite
at a social gathering.
in, seeing its lord, the moon, and his accompanying stars, veils its visage
and passes the night with the face downwards. So how will I perform among
Sutradhar: Dear, such coyness of you is indeed delightful to me. But...the
his vacillation and his procrastination. The protagonist here undergoes a
Kirttibilash
begins with the King eager to divest himself off the burden
We find Moharaja Chondrokanto confiding his intention to his minister:
I grow old and so I find the regal burden tedious. My constant desire is to
When Kirttibilash soliloquizes about the injustices done by his stepmother,
However, unlike
, the Bengali play does not begin with darkness
on stage and the introductory conversation of the Shakespearean text
comes much later in the Bengali one. As for the fool or jester, as H. N.
Das Gupta observes, “Almost invariably in all Sanskrit plays we come
across a comic character (or
) who is a boon companion of the
hero of the drama and pleases him by his witticisms and observations on
some dramatic situations.”
In this play the Shakespearean fool makes
way for the Sanskritic
, Meghnath, the Bengali equivalent of
Wf nutt bmtp nfotipo tibt it it opt kutt tif Siblftpfbsfbo io�ufodft
that bridge the two plays in discussion here. As H. N. DasGupta avers,
Sanskrit is used as the formal
is used for conversations with
those of low status. Following the same tradition, either consciously or
form for royal
form when the royal characters address
, any reader of the play would
It is a tragedy and a poor tragedy. But its historical importance is great,
in the history of English tragedy. For the
were writing a tragedy at a time when Seneca had
become popular in courtly and learned circles.... But the first Bengali tragedy
was presented before the Queen at Whitehall. The first Bengali tragedy was
never staged. Still the preface to
Kirtivilashnatak
is one of the most important
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In the preface to his play
Bhanumoti Chittobilash
In presenting this piece of dramatic composition to my indulgent readers,
I would observe, that at the suggestion of an European friend of native
education, I had originally undertaken the translation of Shakespeare’s
Merchant of Venice
parts of Henry IV, was considered the best for the purpose, for which the
translation was avowedly undertaken by me. But the plan was abandoned
having surmised that my performance was not likely to be popular, unless
the mode in which it was done were altered. I took their advice and
undertook to write it in the shape of a Bengali
only the plot and underplots of the
Merchant of Venice
, with considerable
additions and alterations to suit the native taste; but at the same time losing
no opportunity to convey to my countrymen, who have no means of getting
themselves acquainted with Shakespeare, save through the medium of their
own language, the beauty of the author’s sentiments as expressed in the best
passages in the play in question. The sort of reception my
Natuck
is to meet
with from the public, I can by no means divine or guess at, the work being
of a novel character, professing, as it does, to be a Bengali
written much after the manner of an English play. But should my work
and, if thus encouraged, endeavour to devote my leisure hours to writing
“This piece of dramatic composition” is arguably, Bengal’s, if not India’s,
first conscious endeavour to “translate” Shakespeare. But how are we to
make sense of Ghose’s pioneering attempt? Under which translational
rubric does it fall? How does Ghose negotiate with the cultural traffic
of translation? Is it simply an instance of adaptation, as it seems from
the prefatory note? Should the play be considered merely an instance
Michel Garneau’s neologism, a case of tradaptation
of translation is always-already an adaptation? If it is an adaptation, then
Bhanumoti Chittobilash
bears the imprint of
The Merchant of
, the Shakespearean urtext? If it is a case of tradaptation, then how
much of it is adaptation and how much of it is translation? Considering the
recent advances in translation and adaptation studies, these are some of the
questions with which any discerning reader of a translated text, particularly
of translation itself. “Translation,” as the Oxford English Dictionary
(PEE) ef�oft it, it opt pomy “tif bdtipo ps pspdftt pg tusoioh gspn pof
language into another; a version in a different language” but also “the
‌‌‌ ransformation, alteration, change; changing or adapting to another
Tif ef�oitipot, ipxfvfs, tffn tp vbmpsizf tif gpsnbm gfbtusft pg
the process of translation and elide the socio-cultural grids. Of late, with
the entrance of cultural studies into the domain of translational theory, the
translation-scape has experienced a “cultural turn.” In fact, the cultural
dimension is of more importance than the formal features of the translation
in the discipline of translational studies. For Homi Bhabha, one of the
foremost cultural theorists of our time, “[t]ranslation is the performative
nature of cultural communication.”
Translation is not only interlingual
but also an intercultural phenomenon. “[I]t is the ‘inter’—the cutting
nfbot “tp nblf tuitbcmf ps �t (gps b puspptf).”
PEE ef�oft “bebptbtipo”
suitable for new use.” It glosses “adaptation” as “an altered or amended
�mnioh, cspbedbttioh ps pspeudtipo po tif ttbhf gspn b opvfm ps tinimbs
literary source.”
For Linda Hutcheon adaptation is “an acknowledged
transposition of a recognizable other work or works;” “a creative and an
interpretive act of appropriation/salvaging;” and “an extended intertextual
Aware as Hurro Chunder Ghose was of the constraints of “translating”
in the primary sense of the term, in his enterprise
to “cater to the native taste,” he deploys a strategy that is indeed an
Paniker observes, in precolonial India, “translation was not understood as
Prior to colonialism, translation in the Indian
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Ghose to accomplish his dual intentions to present the play in a familiar
npef boe nbiotbio tif Siblftpfbsfbo �bvpus. Giptf esbxt uppo Ioeibo
myths and relocates the play in the Indian discursive space. He adheres to
an indigenous form of presentation—the
—then prevalent in the
theatrescape of Bengal. To recast the Shakespearean play in the mould of
from the world of trade and commerce to the domestic sphere is perceived
in the altered title. This is very much in keeping with the Sanskrit dramatic
tradition where, as H. N. DasGupta mentions, “the dominant sentiment
[was] either erotic or heroic. All other sentiments found subordinate
With this shift, where Shylock’s change of religion no longer
remains the primary issue, it becomes imperative for Ghose to supplement
The machineries of the Sanskrit dramatic tradition, namely, Nandi,
Nati have been introduced here. The Bengali has lyrical
grace. To plot Shakespeare in the Indian socio-cultural grid, Ghose
Indianizes the names of the characters. Portia becomes Bhanumoti, Nerrisa
becomes Shushila and Jessica becomes Shoshimukhi. It is interesting to
note that as the name Portia has both classical and biblical overtones;
being the
sun-god. Again, while the disguised Portia is addressed as “a Daniel
come to judgment” in the trial scene, the disguised Bhanumoti receives
the title Ramchandra, Ram being the hero of the epic Ramayana and a
�husf pg iotfhsity boe xitepn. Tif iotspeudtipo pg b
raj-purohit
(the royal
(the Indian counterpart of the English barber, acquainted
related to his profession) was essential to execute the
Hindu rites on stage. Certain appellations have also been appended in
psefs tp nbiotbio tif tpdibm ttsbti�dbtipo. Tif tfttioh ibt cffo tiigtfe
from Venice and Belmont to Gujarat and Ujjain respectively. However,
Gujarat as it was, like the medieval Venice, a renowned centre for trade.
The choosing of the
(trading) community to represent the Jews
of the chief money-lending classes apart from the Parsis. The practice of
efoibm tp eiof xifo iovitfe: “Ypu pfppmf bsf tpp tiogum, �fti gffeioh, boe
sacrilegious,” says Lokkhopati Rai, the Bengali Shylock. “What kinship
Though Ghose criticizes the usurers, the play
opens with Chondraboli, the Queen and Bhanumoti’s mother, terribly
contingent upon the timely marriage of the daughter is emphasized when
she says, “If I remain calm, the family will earn a bad name.”
But as the
King later soliloquizes, he alludes to the Mahabharata and the havoc that
xspuhit. Giptf, tiut, kutti�ft tif efpbstusf tibt if nblft
in following Shakespeare. As Ujjain is mentioned in the Mahabharata, the
rebirth, the devil and so on) and superstitious beliefs that are considered
ominous (as the twitching of the right eye, the howling of the jackals at
day and so on) are conspicuous throughout the play. Probably following
the Jatra tradition, Ghose incorporates a song that is a sort of address to
The Merchant of
, in this play the marriage of Bhanumoti takes place in the presence
of all the courtiers and the traditions of a royal marriage in India have
been minutely followed. Ghose rejects the immediate separation of the
lovers on the day of the marriage. He allows them blissful moments of
nuptial pleasure. Why does he depart from the Shakespearean text? Is
it because his audience will not accept it as can be surmised from his
psfgbdf? Ps it it cfdbutf if �oet tif ppstsbybm pg mpohioh eittbttfgum?
nature of the penultimate scene of Ghose’s play, where the conclusive
Ghose’s way of portraying women is interesting. While on the one
, of reciprocal relationship, of
conjugation, not only in form but also in function, on the other, there are
many signs of an unequal gendered relationship, of
it tif dpodfpt pg bseiāohioī io tif Siblftpfbsfbo npume, it xpume cf
quite wrong to conclude a difference in social perception in the portrayal
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deny a hint of the same. However, as we proceed, we perceive certain
gendered as Shushila expresses her confusion regarding Bhanumoti’s
Rati and Madan cease to be just mythical characters
sans life. A further violence committed by Ghose has been in his enquiry
about the loss of chastity due to disguise. He cunningly makes Shushila
) while attempting to save that of her husband.
his
Sanskrit–English Dictionary
, defines dharma
-rakshita
as one who
Samsad Bengali–English Dictionary
as the “preservation of chastity” and
as the “ravishment of a woman’s chastity, rape.”
risk presuming that Ghose was not thinking much differently in the early
Victorian times either. He further goes on to eulogize a sati following the
scandalous portrayal of Bhanumoti expressing her desire to sleep with the
Shastri, the disguised Portia. Following Shakespeare in such a debasement
(character), we may read the
section as a lengthy rebuttal, going against
The Merchant of Venice
order to preach the ways of god to men. It seems that it is his confession,
seeking salvation for his deed of misrepresenting a “
use of veils on the face and curtains on the stage are also stark departures.
However, having marked these textual indentations of the male author,
in the matrix. Ghose criticizes the indifference of the people towards each
marks the play. We also find that a situation has been created where the
demise of Lokkhopati Rai will make the bereaved daughter joyous in
such a fashion that this happiness is considered to be no sin, but rather
Following the indigenous tradition, Ghose adopts certain other changes
as well. He introduces the messengers to announce the arrival of any person
of high rank on the stage, maintaining the feudal hierarchy. He dispenses
with all the Christian elements of the play and introduces the culture of
rejoicing over the victory of truth, a kind of carnival atmosphere. He uses
the style of Sanskritic word formation, to conjunct multiple words into one.
He also makes use of pun and word plays in a more varied and profuse
be understood by the Shakespearean audience to have taken place behind
the scenes. These additions by Ghose are no doubt deliberate expansions
of the Shakespearean original in order to attain contemporaneity. Even so,
sight of the original. Ghose’s plot resembles that of Shakespeare’s in all the
translated by Ghose faithfully. The importance of royal blood of the suitor is
prominently underlined in both the texts. Though the description of Jessica
by Lorenzo in the translated text has turned more towards the beauty than
the qualities of Shoshimukhi, there’s not much deviation. The integrity
of plot from the scene where Antonio seals the bond and the scenes that
of masque with the Indian tradition of mask. The contents of the scrolls of
fortune too show no difference from the original except in their prosodic
earlier that Ghose has done away with all the Christian elements of the
Shakespearean play, the remark of Chandrasen—the Indian counterpart
bhodro
” in Gujarat, in 5.1 may
pg tif �utf—bo fttfotibm btpfdt pg Iioeu nytipmphy. Tif tyncpmt pg
pitchers infuse the play. The play, thus, seems to be more of an attempt
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tp sfiogpsdf tif cfmifgt pg tif pfppmf bhbiott tif tdifoti�d tiiolioh boe
reasoning instilled by Western education than what the preface seems to
claim—communication of the quintessential Shakespeare to the laity of
Bengal. Translation, thus, as we can perceive from our reading of the text,
is not a servile imitation of the urtext but turns out to be “an important
Having done with the exegesis of the plays in contention, we would now
like to refer back to the title of our paper and conclude on a general note.
becomes a matter of creating a Québécois work, in the true sense of the
word, for not only has the title of the play been changed, the name of the
And what is true for the Québéc theatres
consideration, we find, do not stand out as instances of absolute Bardolatry
either. What happens in the process of these tradaptations is, to paraphrase
Ganesh Devy, a transmigration of the soul of literature—the key element in
the understanding of “translation” through the lens of Indian metaphysics.
The soul, or significance, is not subject to the laws of temporality; and
therefore significance, even literary significance, is ahistorical in Indian
view. Elements of plot, stories, characters, can be used again and again
by new generations of writers because Indian literary theory does not
lay undue emphasis on originality. If originality were made a criterion of
literary excellence, a majority of Indian classics would fail the test. The
true test is the writer’s capacity to transform, to translate, to restate, to
We would like to thank Professor Swapan Kumar Chakravorty who,
during his tenure as the Director General of the National Library of India,
Rabindranath Tagore, “Shakespeare,” in
2.
3.
Refer to his book
“A Bengali journal to propagate traditional Hindu religion” —says Sisir Kumar Das
5.
(Kolkata: Viswabharati
S.K. Bhattacharyya, “Shakespeare and Bengali Theatre,”
7.
A reference to Jasodhara Bagchi’s article “Shakespeare in Loin Cloths: English
8.
Jasodhara Bagchi, “Shakespeare in Loin Cloths,” in
9.
Bagchi, “Shakespeare in Loin Cloths,” 147.
Bagchi, “Shakespeare in Loin Cloths,” 147–158.
While P. Guha-Thakurta in his book
The Bengali Drama: Its Origin and Development
looks down upon Ghose’s play and makes no reference of Gupta’s, Brojendronath
Chandra Sen in his essay “Bengali Drama and Stage” and Sushil K. Mukherjee in his
The Story of Calcutta Theatres: 1753–1980
do but only mention these two
playwrights and their works. Sisir Kumar Das in his essay “Shakespeare in Indian
Languages” comments on the “Indianization” in Ghose’s play but does not refer to
. On the other hand we have Hemendra Nath DasGupta’s
Bengali Theatre
, Jyotsna G. Singh’s “Different Shakespeares: The
Colonial Narratives/Cultural Dialogues:
, and Sukanta Chaudhuri’s
“Shakespeare in India” (in Internet Shakespeare editions), where no reference has been
made to either of these plays. It is clear that most of the critical output concentrates
Monindrolal Kundu,
Jogendra Chandra Gupta, preface to
Sisir Kumar Das,
(New Delhi: Sahitya
Hemendra Nath DasGupta,
The language, especially dialect, of the masses.
22.
7, no.1 (1964):
OULICK
is a spelling variant of the word
. The Preface is written in both English
The italics in this quotation follow the original text.
25.
“Michel Garneau, who produced a Quebec
in 1978, “chose a new term
(tsbebptbtipo) tibt fttbcmitife b �fyicmf niexby ttbhf cftxffo tsbotmbtipo boe
adaptation, both acknowledging an allegiance to the Shakespearean text and asserting a
eftisf tp ef�of b ppmitidbm tfotf pg tfmg.iefotity gps Qufcfd, psfditfmy cy tucpseiobtioh
extraneous discourse like Shakespeare’s.”
Shakespeare and the Language of
Homi K. Bhabha,
Oxford English Dictionary Online
,” accessed 30 October 2012, http://
Oxford English Dictionary Online
.,” accessed 30 October 2012,
Linda Hutcheon,
32.
Ayyappa Paniker, “Towards an Indian Theory of Literary Translation,” in
Translation:
, ed. Tutun Mukherjee (New Delhi: Prestige, 1998),
Wbtb�si
Hurro Chunder Ghose,
(Kolkata: Purnachandrodaya Press,
Monier Monier-Williams,
A Sanskrit–English Dictionary
(Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass,
39.
Birendramohan Dasgupta,
(Kolkata: Sahitya
According to Hindu mythology, it refers to the fourth stage of a
Literature
117 (1988): 104, accessed 2 March 2013, http://canlit.ca/pdfs/articles/
Ganesh Devy, “Translation and Literary History—An Indian View,” in
I discovered Charles and Mary Lamb’s
Tales from Shakespeare
under very
unusual circumstances in a village in Odisha. My brother, who studied
English literature at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, brought a copy of
Tales
being able to make sense of many of the sentences. My English teacher
at the village school was very different from the Irish nuns who taught
Shakespeare and Lamb to many Indian school students. He loved to
teach us Tagore’s famous poem “Where the Mind is Without Fear.” He
would read it aloud while wielding a sinister-looking cane and we would
Tagore and the cane swishing in the air have therefore been fused into a
One of the earliest Odia translations of a Shakespearean play was
�stt tfsibmizfe io tif mitfsbsy kpusobm
or the Mirror and came to
be published in the form of a slim volume in 1908. The translator was
Jagannath Ballabh Ghose who “most respectfully” dedicated this little
book to The Hon’ble John Joseph Platel, Esquire, I.E.S, the district and
tfttipo kuehf pg Cuttbdl. It it, tiut, dmfbsmy ioeidbtfe tibt tif tsbotmbtipo
ibt cffo uoefstblfo cy b mpybm tuckfdt pg tif Bsititi Enpisf boe tif
blessings of the colonial authorities are duly invoked. In the short preface
play. As Ghose states, “My story is not a faithful rendering of Lamb’s
story but it is based on it to a large extent. The rest I have translated from
J
the original play.” It is perfectly possible that Ghose might have been
inspired by H.C. Rakshit, who presented prose versions of Shakespeare’s
book is divided into ten chapters with each chapter bearing a title in
Odia and a quotation from the original English play. The chapter titles
(the wedding),
(farewell),
(kpy boe
grief),
Shanti
(peace). The chapter titles clearly indicate that the play has been presented
as a moral tale involving human actions and their consequences. Each
chapter provides a brief account of events in prose into which a brief
interspersed with dialogues does not simplify Ghose’s task and leaves
iin xiti sftieubm eig�dumtift. Io Giptf’t iboet dfstbio fmfnfott hft
and the church
is presented as an
and the graveyard
is presented as a
samadhimandir
. I have come across Ghose’s translation/
Comedy of Errors
, which was published in
io tif �stt
or on Iswarchandra
Vidyasagar’s translation of the same play into Bengali and bearing the
In all probability introducing Shakespeare to Odia readers
through Lamb’s
was part of a larger strategy. At this point of time,
modernity in Odia literature was being negotiated through the assimilation
Sbeibobti Sby iobuhusbtfe tif pspdftt pg npefsoizioh Peib ppftsy cy
silently and unobtrusively reworking Ovid’s
Atlanta’s Race
and Thisbe,
Shelley’s
and many such western works. These were
presenting a secular love story with a tragic ending in Odia literature,
I am tempted here to bring in a reference to a Chinese translation
s, which was published in 1904 around the same time
tibt Giptf it fohbhfe io sfxsitioh Lbnc gps tif cfof�t pg Peib sfbefst
and creating a space for more ambitious Odia translations of full-length
Shakespearian plays like
interesting to see the way Lamb’s
were appropriated in another
Atibo obtipo bt b tinf xifo it xbt eftpfsbtfmy tsyioh tp npefsoizf ittfmg
after facing humiliation and defeat from a number of western powers. The
translator’s name is Lin Shu and the title of his Chinese translation of
Tales
Yuvibian Yanyu
. Lin Shu saw translation as a tool
of reform and his translation of Lamb was much more assimilative than
that of Ghose. He gave the Shakespearean characters Chinese names and
reworked the tales to make them express Confucian morality and a Chinese
and is presented as a dutiful son who must kill his father’s murderer.
Jumift, xiptf tlio it tif dpmpus pg kbef, eitpmbyt mittmf bsepus ps pbttipo,
and Portia loves Bassanio despite his poverty because he is possessed of
the qualities of a literary scholar. The presence of the supernatural and
of magic in Shakespeare’s plays endears him to Lin because the west in
Shakespeare’s works does not appear very different from traditional China.
Shakespeare convinces Lin that China’s past need not be aggressively
sfkfdtfe: it sftfncmft tibt pg tif xftt, xiidi Ciioftf npefsoizfst tffl
s into Chinese, takes the opportunity to introduce elements and ideas
that were hitherto alien to China. The profession of the lawyer is one
such element that the translation of
to introduce. The other relates to the bringing out of a baby by surgically
cutting open the abdomen of a woman. The third is the notion of a love
I shall now turn to the central theme of my presentation that is the
discussion of a more recent translation of tales from Shakespeare into Odia,
, which was published in 1977. The translator,
Basant K. Satapathy, was a well-known English teacher, a reputed short
story writer, a critic and famous for his humour, which is laced with
deep pathos. Even when he was a student in a school in a feudal state in
drawn to English literature. As a young boy he rendered William Blake’s
“The Piper” and Thomas Hood’s “I remember, I remember” into Odia.
Later as a college teacher of English, Satapathy established himself as
a charismatic teacher of Shakespeare. In his autobiography he gives a
King
to undergraduate students and the innovative ways he had adopted
to make Shakespeare accessible to Odia students. His account deserves
J
Tif eby I kpiofe tif dpmmfhf bt mfdtusfs io Eohmiti I xbmlfe iotp tif dmbtt
of fourth year students. The students told me, “We have brought the copies
. Please teach us that play.” I borrowed a copy from
them and started giving my first lecture in that college. The students
listened to me with rapt attention and after giving them a broad outline
If it were done, when it is done; I wish it were done quickly; but if
assassination …. This enthralled the students and they started clapping
kpygummy…. Podf tif Psiodipbm pg tif dpmmfhf, Pspgfttps Pimmbi, xfot ipnf
With his permission,
I started teaching this text. I am extremely fond of teaching Shakespeare. I
the class the expression on my face makes people think that Shakespeare’s
ghost has possessed me. One day I was discussing the episode dealing with
the reunion of King Lear and his youngest daughter, Cordelia. Lear said
While teaching these two episodes I broke down and wept. Tears welled
up in the eyes of all the hundred twenty eight students in the class….
It is impossible for a reader not to be deeply moved by the last scenes
of Shakespeare. Who is left unmoved by Iago’s speech in the famous
“temptation scene”? Othello’s speech which follows Iago’s pierces one’s
without taking the help of Odia. So I often explained Shakespeare in Odia to
students of B.A. and M.A. classes. This used to give me a lot of satisfaction
Satapathy went on to translate
posthumously. He also adapted a number of works written in English
On the face of it, his translation of Lamb’s
is very different from
Ghose’s translation and, unlike Lin, he does not appear to be taking any
liberty with the plot, characters or world view of the tales. He has chosen
to translate 13 out of the tales in standard Odia although occasionally he
cannot resist the temptation to bring in a few expressions in colloquial
and idiomatic Odia. But, on the whole, he closely adheres to the words
Wiy epft iit tsbotmbtipo bttunf tihoi�dbodf? I tipume milf tp tipx
tibt, milf Lio Siu, bmtipuhi if nblft op bttfnpt tp Peiboizf ps Ioeiboizf
Lamb, Satapathy’s translation of the
is informed by anxieties and
concerns that deserve close attention today. This is because Satapathy
meditates on a future without Shakespeare and on the alienation of the
English teacher in post-independence India and offers solutions that will
shock and provoke teachers of English in the Indian academia. This is the
I shall pay particular attention to the translator’s preface because it is
here that Satapathy takes pains to elaborate on his rather unconventional
vifxt. Tif psfgbdf titmfe “Wiy” it psfdfefe cy gpus fpihsbpit: tif �stt
which he tells her how literature has saved his life and his reason, the third
the last a quotation from Kilingopolus. The last is particularly interesting
must strike some vein in the translator so that he experiences some of the
All these serve to indicate that, to Satapathy, translation is not a
mechanical activity; it is invested with deep emotional significance. In
the course of the preface, it will be clear how much emotional energy
. There are disturbing
J
translated the tales to cope with his wife’s mental instability and with her
death. The preface begins by admitting that reducing Shakespeare’s plays
to stories robs them of their magic. The translator then goes on to say that
ordinary readers lack the sincerity and concentration that Shakespeare’s
pmbyt efnboe. If ruptft Es Sbnufm Jpiotpo tp dpovfy tif nbkftty pg
Shakespeare and leaves one in no doubt that he is a bardolator. Satapathy
as only a gateway to Shakespeare and tells us how
much they leave out.
After making these observations of a general nature, the translator turns
How many Indians will have the luck to read Shakespeare in the original?
opportunity to read a couple of stories from Shakespeare in English and at
If you have not seen a tiger content yourself with seeing a cat. (Translation
are cats and the original plays from which they are derived
are tigers. But the tales are important for a very different reason and
Sbtbpbtiy’t pctfsvbtipot eftfsvf tp cf ruptfe ifsf. If opx vitubmizft b
These tales will assume much greater significance when fanatic nationalists
will drive out Shakespeare as they drove out the British and when the study
of English literature will give way to the teaching of English as a language.
lost his place of pride in many university syllabi. There was a time when
pomy tfoips pspgfttpst pg Eohmiti tbuhit Siblftpfbsf boe kuoips tfbdifst
were denied this great privilege. Now the world has changed and, as
Satapathy darkly predicted, communicative English threatens to displace the
teaching of English literature in colleges and universities. Young lecturers
in engineering colleges and management institutes never seem to tire of
tpfblioh pg cpey mbohubhf, tipst boe mpoh vpxfmt, boe bddfot ofutsbmizbtipo.
It is almost as if Satapathy was ready to suggest desperate remedies.
But these may make teachers of English intensely uncomfortable. In the
preface, he refers to an experiment he once conducted in a classroom.
After teaching undergraduate students a scene from Shakespeare’s play
, Satapathy read out the part dealing with the same scene from
his Odia translation of Lamb’s tale. He noticed that students became
suddenly more responsive and alert. This brings to mind Professor
Avdesh Singh talking about teachers teaching Shakespeare in Hindi
or Marathi and describing this activity as a kind of translation of
Shakespeare. Is this a nightmare or does this open up new possibilities
However, the preface does not stop here. It goes a step further and
makes a suggestion that is as provocative as the one Satapathy made earlier.
Aoe tiit tuhhfttipo it fncfeefe �snmy io tif dpotfyt pg tif tsbotmbtps’t
When I was a student of class eleven our headmaster taught us to enact the
trial scene from
The Merchant of Venice
and the funeral scene from
. This was my first contact with Shakespeare. Later, in 1932, while
Shakespeare and Charles Lamb. I came across a book which contained
excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays and Lamb’s
and there were many
illustrations in it to enliven the text. The book also provided the biographies
of Shakespeare and Lamb. Reading the book filled my heart with feelings of
adoration for Shakespeare and with compassion, love and pity for Charles
Lamb was unlucky, unhealthy and poor. Shakespeare was a superman and
Satapathy now draws our attention to the lessons he learnt from his long
Agtfs tfbdiioh Eohmiti mitfsbtusf gps pvfs gigtffo yfbst I sfbmizf tibt ig b
teacher of English in India does research and writes hundreds and hundreds
England or the U.S.A. But they would put their knowledge and love of
Pragmatism? A counsel of despair? One does not know. I am reminded
of the foreword that T.S. Eliot contributed to the Odia translation
, which was published in the late 1950s. In this, Eliot expressed
the sincere hope that the translation would enrich Odia literature. Perhaps,
of the teacher of English in a world from which Shakespeare has been
banished by fanatic nationalists and replaced with communicative English
J
The suggestions Satapathy made more than 30 years ago in the context
recent debate over the future of bilingualism or multilingualism in India,
which was initiated by Ramachandra Guha in
Economic and Political
. Guha drew our attention to the steady erosion of the bilingual
and multilingual culture prevailing until recently in India and pointed out
that many now do their thinking, reading and writing in only one language
in our country. Does Satapathy’s prescription assume relevance in the
context of this debate? I can only raise these questions. I hope the answers
’s
in 1999, Diane Daugherty writes, “Intercultural work is fraught
with dangers. Colonial legacies frame it, economic imbalances
complicate it, and orientalist accusations are barbs that Western artists
More than a decade has passed since
toured India and the UK; the manifestations
’s works
in translations into Indian languages and performance modes have
proliferated, revealing various new joints and fissures in postcolonial
cultures (in this case, India and England) has become more pressing.
The introduction of technology onto the stage widens the debate. An update
into the critical reception of the intercultural translations of Shakespeare
is therefore timely
as it currently stands.
Jacqueline Lo and Helen Gilbert argue for a postcolonial approach to
intercultural Shakespeare
: “In an age where cultural boundaries
are continually traversed and identities are becoming increasingly
hybridized, an intercultural theatre
practice informed by postcolonial
theory can potentially function as a site where this intersecting of cultures
P
it cpti sf�fdtfe boe dsitirufe.”
This statement serves as the framework
within which this chapter tests Daugherty’s claim against some recent
negotiations of intercultural translations of Shakespeare
the UK and India. In doing so, it discusses some current attitudes among
theatre practitioners and critics towards translations into “other” languages
and goes on to ask, “Does the text even matter?” Is the critic Russ
McDonald correct when he claims, “Shakespeare
in other words is not
Io dpotiefsioh tiftf rufttipot, tif fttby sf�fdtt po tif
current state of postcolonial relations; how the “other” is perceived in the
hybrid space created by intercultural theatre and across the still-contested
It is therefore
not the uncritical and unmediated expression of difference, depoliticized
Bhabha goes on to argue that, postcolonial hybridity, and by extension
, is transgressive and reforming, and challenging as well
as accepting and suggests how potential linguistic and cultural futures
Mary Louise Pratt calls the hybrid space a “contact zone,
encounter, which “may be a site of violence, oppression and resistance
or may be a site of closer, less antagonistic exchange, but it remains a
it becomes necessary to evaluate politics of production and reception of
intercultural theatre
possibility and potential of Bhabha’s open “interstitial future, that emerges
in between the claims of the past and the needs of the present,”
that breaks
is one of the core sites on which identity is contested and
reformed in postcolonial nations (and in this I include England). Susan
Bbttoftt bshuft tibt tsbotmbtipo ittfmg “nby cf �husbtivf, bt b titf pg
exchange, a hybrid space charged with multiple meanings.”
in mind, I concentrate on questions raised by linguistic translations
speaking and presentations of Shakespeare
’s texts in “other” accents.
English has, of course, had a pervasive and fraught history in India—as the
language of the colonizers, a compulsory mode for advancement through
communication in the “master” language, taught by way of Shakespeare
Paul Friedrich argues that, above “all practical and logical advantages,”
and “despite their democracy and their Shakespeare
Keeping this
Lo and Gilbert call “the wide-scale imposition of imperial languages
A postcolonial framework considers the power dynamics of language
use according to producers, directors, actors, audience and critics. The
question of “whose values are heard and whose are silenced by the use of
tpfdi�d mbohubhft,” it lfy.
In addition, we might ask how linguistic translations
are conducted and
whose interests they serve: Does the translator function as a negotiator or a
type of “native informant”? What happens to linguistic concepts that resist
translation or adaptation? In terms of theatrical product, language issues are
equally complicated: How do staged languages animate one another? Which
carries the cultural authority? What happens to the performative features
of verbal enunciation, particularly when stories from predominantly oral
cultures are presented? How might we reread verbally silenced bodies in
To propose some answers to these questions, I begin by considering the
politics of production and reception of a landmark intercultural production:
Dash Art’s 2005/06 Indian
Midsummer Night’s Dream
, directed by
. Performed in seven different Indian languages, it offered
the audience no translation to follow. In this sense it became almost
non-verbal: the text submerged and reshaped to foreground the visual
elements of the production, nevertheless, language remained a contested
issue among critics, as I show. I go on to discuss Indian responses to the
performed to an audience in New Delhi also used a screen,
but one that re-translated into “Hinglish” the Bengali translation of the
, to great, if unwitting postmodern effect. Finally, I briefly
performed Shakespeare
’s text with Indian accents to audiences in the
Shakespeare
heartland of Stratford-upon-Avon, before transferring to
London’s West End. This production, a translation of accent rather than
language, reveals some striking attitudes towards the “other” that suggests
P
that a dissolution of fixed notions of identity is still some way off when
Night’s Dream
was commissioned and funded by the British Council in
India in 2005, underlining the point that “when intercultural exchanges
take place within the “non-West,” they are often mediated through
Western culture and/or economics.”
On arrival in India, Supple
told the
sponsors he could not present the show in English.
He admits, “The kind
of audiences the British Council wanted to attract would have preferred
it to be in English.”
Lankan performers, and had it translated and performed in seven different
languages including English. In this case it is unlikely that there were
many in the audience who were able to understand every language used;
however, no translation was offered into English, Hindi, Shakespeare
This Babel of languages challenged the audience to access the play’s
meaning in new potentially innovative ways. As the audience and
was renegotiated and reinvigorated. The utopian
primitivism of Supple
’s
Dream
enabled Dash Arts to present a challenge to
’s value as originator of the English language and offered the
audience a spectacular, exotic, non[-]verbal Shakespeare
in
other words, who was differed and different from the kind of Shakespeare
normally presented at the RSC. The Indian culture presented in
challenged the audience’s response to Shakespeare
’s value was not only
This positive response, though expressed in Western terms, (“exotic” and
“Babel of languages”), highlights the best of the production’s potential
impacts. Nevertheless, the submergence of English and cultural makeup
With its English, and white, RSC director, a multilingual all-Asian
cast and the submergence of the original text beneath layers of linguistic,
spatial and physical translation, the production seemed to point to some
a sort of acknowledgement and an implicit attempt at redressing a power
’s text was highlighted by
its very absence—interestingly cast against the linguistic of the middle-
touches on what Jyotsna Singh has called an, “emphasis
—leaving the production to speak for itself as a
did not want it to make postcolonial linguistic points and
explained, “It was not the case that the mechanicals were Bangla speakers
while the Theseus/Oberon and Hipolyta/Titania spoke proper Hindi and
the magicals were from the South.”
However, some of his choices did
reference the imperial history of English in India and the corresponding
aspiring Indian use of it. At the end of the play, Theseus and Hyppolyta
’t tfyt io xibt tif pspeudtipo’t pg�dibm ciphsbpifs
Ananda Lal noted was “somewhat condescending” English, while the
He went on to
observe that not only did this underscore language as a site of contested
identity, it spoke to the endemic class and caste-based attitudes among
the Indian audience. “Too often, we treat our artisans patronizingly as
’s text was translated and became untranslatable
sees his own contribution to the production as showing,
bnpoh ptifs tiioht, bo innfotf �efmity tp Siblftpfbsf
’s text. By this he
means that an emphasis was placed on Shakespeare
’s intentions in the text
’s time. The translations removed the
play from the realm of the actors’ own reality—they protested that they did
not speak like that on a daily basis, if at all. The counter argument to this
is that no one speaks like Shakespeare
in contemporary English discourse.
The effect of what Indian critic Keval Arora calls Supple
The idea that languages are grounded in sociological cultural spaces and are
imbricated in personal identity, that they shape memories of shared pasts
and imagined futures, that they are as much bones of contention as means
of contestations—none of these, on the evidence of the performance, seem
The first effect was that the poly-translations simply melted the different
tongues into an amorphous mass and the audience were given permission
towards the individual actor ends up as an exclusionary experience for
his spectators.” Among audiences in India and abroad this caused some
’s text was not being treated with the respect that
the language warranted.
Lal notes that, “for Indian audiences to whom Supple
played, the most resistant element may have been its polyglot script.”
P
He states that this protest had its roots in reverence for the “Bard’s own
English, which Indians may indeed regard as more sacrosanct than the
describes the reactions of what he terms,
Wallah generation,”
Gielgud and Olivier, who demanded to know why he had not produced
the play “in the original way.”
He recalls that in India there were more
objections to the fact that actors were not speaking in English than
critics, particularly when the production played in Stratford. Supple
“There is an inbuilt prejudice against speaking Shakespeare
us.”
28
He and many others felt his production almost surpassed these
issues, but even so, when the production toured to the States, he began
�stt bueifodf nfncfs tp xbml put. Io Sbo Fsboditdp, Suppmf
said it took
three minutes. As they left, they remarked, “I didn’t know it wouldn’t
be in English.” The positive potential of the hybrid linguistic space to
suggest new interpretations and meanings was not fully embraced by
The reactions this production elicited and the challenges that such
productions present to the sense of reverence for Shakespeare
for the Globe
festival
director Tom Bird. At the WSF
, which took place in London in 2012, the
efditipo po mbohubhf gps tif pspeudtipot xbt ef�oitf—op Eohmiti xbt tp
be allowed onstage. Artistic Director of the Globe
argued that he wanted the invited directors to bring the shows as they
Bird recounts that Atul Kumar, director
Twelfth Night
, argued that his company theatre artists should
therefore be allowed to use English because, as he rightly protested, that is
the language they speak, but to no avail. It is striking that, particularly for
postcolonial nations invited to take part, this guideline was emphatically
promoted. It could be argued that this reversed the colonial dictum to
enforce the learning and speaking of English in India—a keeping of the
actors inserted English phrases into the production without the knowledge
or blessing of the festival organizers. Those lines were in contemporary
English, almost Hinglish, or English spoken with exaggerated Indian
accents, as if to mock any reverence for the original text and the idea that
was the perfect carrier for this. “We thought of giving him
wrong English phrases, as in how someone in an Indian village would try
and speak English, make a mess of it and still feel higher than everyone
Kumar said. The use of English in this production therefore was
, cross gartered” and waiting for Olivia. In a riposte to Maria
(Trupti Khamkar) and Sir Toby (Gagan Riar), who is Malvolio
in terms of class hierarchy, Malvolio
them (in heavily accented Hinglish) of being “grammatically illiterate,”
showing his sense of superiority through his imagined prowess in the
English language over theirs. Later in the play, as Malvolio thought
of his life married to Olivia, Nayyar made a mockery of English and
’s beloved
A sense of pride in subverting Shakespeare
, who played
Sebastian but also translated
Twelfth Night
into Hindi, interrupted the
performance to address the Globe
audience directly, saying, “Translation
ki job, ma kasam, itni
thankless job
hai yaar…mein aake liney suna raha
truthfully a thankless one—I come and tell them a line and everyone says,
“Wow, Shakespeare is the best!”)
In this he echoes the great Shakespearean
German translator, August Wilhelm Schlegel, who spoke of his work as
“a thankless task, in which one is continually tormented by ineluctable
’s dominance over all
P
But Nagpal’s real subversion was in undermining the idea of striving for
“perfection” within his translation itself. Speaking only Hindi, he cracked
colloquial jokes against the idea of Shakespeare
’s genius that monolingual
English speakers in the audience would not understand. Interrupting the
�px pg tif pspeudtipo if tpme tif bueifodf, “
karte karte
Gandhi
ke kapde
chotein ho gaye…Chaliye theek hai,
dekhne aye hain
Sebastian
PK, �of. Lft’t ep Siblftpfbsf
in English then! Doing ‘thee, thy, thou’ over
and over has shrunk Gandhi’s clothes! OK, well, you have come to watch
, against the reverence for Shakespearean English, against the
mythology of a “saintly” Gandhi, against audiences who worship all these.
“We are all just human,” Nagpal seemed to be saying; “what we write and
how we say it matters only as much as it does.” He parodied the change
from translator-for-hire to Sebastian in character by becoming formal in
iit ttbodf boe tpof, cf�ttioh bo bdtps xiti sfvfsfodf gps tif tfyt.
Subverting the text was explicitly important for Sunil Shanbag, Director
All’s Well That Ends Well
, who was keenly aware of the
shows how much the English still
regard Shakespeare as a cultural extension of their relationship with the
rest of the world, especially so with former colonies. So we do have to find
In this he recognizes the fear expressed by some Western critics that
the festival in itself was an act of cultural imperialism, that in “forcing”
That
on the UK’s critics. Though Shanbag’s production stayed within the
critique Indian attitudes to Western modernity and Western attitudes to
India has been struggling with tradition and modernity for some time now,
India tradition has managed to hold its own rather well, adapting to, resisting,
subverting modernity […] and that’s what we wanted to indicate. Gokuldas’s
[the King of France] attitude to Western medicine is ambivalent. He is
very impressed by Western doctors, and in fact refers to Heli’s [Helena’s]
traditional medicine
as outdated. At the same time he knows only too well
the limitations of [W]estern medicine, and resents the way the English
reject traditional Indian medicine. So it’s a grey area, and that makes it
A number of reviewers did grasp and appreciate the ways in which
Shanbag’s translation strengthened the female characters in the play.
However, Shanbag said this might be lost on Indian critics when the
play moved back to India because in many cases they would not know
language back into contemporary English would arise. The Globe
decided
only to project scene summaries on the screen. The decision, according
to Bird, had as much to do with the Globe
’s overall cultural experiment
as it did with the dynamics of staging at the Globe
translation would have resulted in a Wimbledon-like effect with the
audiences’ heads turning from screen to stage as if watching tennis,
The screen as a manifestation of the hybrid space offers potential and
or hybrid productions, particularly in traditional spaces,
might be projected. One such moment occurred at the Globe
to Globe
. Actor
Ladies and Gentlemen, we feel extremely honoured to be performing here,
this is sacred space for actors from anywhere in the world. There are some
things I would just like to tell you. A lot of it (the play) is told on those things
(here he pointed to the screens), I haven’t been able to exactly make out
his self-deprecating English/Hinglish word play), but they are on both sides
(of the stage). They give you also a synopsis of the play, a rough outline of
what’s happening because it’s going to be hard times for English speakers.
shouted out, “Not many here.” Shahid responded with humour, “I’m not
P
In this exchange, the actor began by acknowledging reverence for
and noting what performing on the Globe
stage means to
his company. Second, he referenced the screens as an imposition in the
experiment. Most importantly, the audience member’s position
who wrongly assumed, perhaps because he could see so many brown faces
around him, that there were “not many” English speakers present was
undermined. In fact, most of the Urdu-speaking members
would have been, at the very least, bilingual. In this short interchange, the
You can see why Afghans, and Albanians, and Palestinians, and the citizens
works of the greatest playwright who ever lived, even though they have
to perform them in another language. What’s harder to understand is why
More than 100,000 people have been to the Globe
in the past six weeks to
see all 37 of Shakespeare
’s plays in different languages, including recently
. Some have
or in the reviews, it did not prevent audiences from being open to the
experience of Shakespeare
in translation. In this the screens became part
of the potential or may not have made a difference at all—as perhaps the
intended. It is important to note that even when people are bilingual,
A line-by-line translation was provided on a screen in Suman
, performed at the Bharat Rang
Mahotsav festival in New Delhi. The production was a good example of
the “empowering mimicry” model with the actors speaking in sonorous
Bengali, while the costumes were approximations of what might have
text, which was already a translation of the Shakespearean, not back to
the original or even contemporary English, but to postmodern Hinglish.
For example: Kent’s words to Oswald in 2.2.40 “I’ll make a sop o’the
moonshine of you,” became, to the audience reading the English, “I’ll make
korma
out of you.” Somewhere in the chain of translation, Shakespeare
’s
“sop o’ the moonshine” (a kind of milk custard) became, as John Dover
English phrase “I’ll make mincemeat out of you,” meaning: I’ll mess
you up. This “mincemeat” in Bengali became
minced meat, and this was translated on the screen as korma, perhaps to
Though Mukhopadyay had no involvement in the screen translation
it was an integral part of the audience experience of his play. Considered
as a site of potential, the screen offers an insight into how subversive and
persuasive it could be if a director integrated its use in the play’s overall
such experiments may introduce fresh perspectives on mainstream critical
provides an interesting
designed along the standard template of the English approximation of
India: full of the inevitable bright pinks and reds and cacophonous noise,
it offered the visual paradox of a modern city where time appears to be
’s language—a further paradox for audience and
critics. No screens were needed, but critical responses still felt the text
had somehow been bastardized just by being placed in “other” mouths.
Michael Billington in the
wanted more emphasis on the Indian
and verbal clarity”—Shakespeare
’s story and the speaking of his text.
Charles Spencer
Daily Telegraph
framed from the point of view
of someone visiting India and commented on the delivery of the text in
The company’s delivery of Shakespeare
’s dense language, 70 per cent of
which is in prose in this play, frequently offers more in the way of vigour
than elegant clarity, while the scenes involving the supposedly comic
night-watch are even more tediously unfunny than usual. But they will
undoubtedly remind many Western visitors to India of frustrating encounters
Implicit in this criticism
is an appeal, drawn along lines of “us” versus
P
Asian nature of the cast impacted on the proper delivery of Shakespeare
text. We are reminded of Ton Hoenselaars’ view
(echoed by Supple
in
his previously noted reference to the RSC delivery of Shakespeare
initiative exposed was
that, by desperately clutching at the “original” English like a household
God, the English [have] really become alienated by [Shakespeare
redundant as all texts do, as they are performed more and more in traditional
languages. Especially in India, where people are used to using a mix of
He added, “the benefit of not knowing the text or the language of
performance is that you might grasp the pre-linguistic architecture of
Does this in itself matter? The answer lies in the idea of the “pre-
linguistic architecture,” of the plays, on which there is agreement among
the practitioners discussed here. Sunil Shanbag believes
. His plots lend themselves to this.” However,
he wanted “to remain true to the text, to Shakespeare lyricism and make a
political statement!” He asserts that whether “translators go for the spirit or
goal is not the communication of the literal meaning of the original text,
but the recreation of the theatrical experience embodied there.”
around the sanctity of the text continue to be evoked in traditionalists
by practitioners who thrive on experiments with language and form.
Certainly in the Indian context, criticism
tp cf uobcmf tp mptf itt pxo dumtusbmmy dpoeitipofe tfotf pg xibt ef�oft
Indian performance culture: Bollywood. Shanbag recognizes that this is also
a danger for Indian practitioners and audiences. “When we come from
India the temptation to ‘bollywood-ise’ is ever present, especially now
that Bollywood has been valorized by so many culture theorists, especially
Taking a critical approach to mass culture is, of course,
a valid endeavour. However, a scan of the previews and reviews of the
plays under consideration here shows that newspaper critics reviewing the
uses the term “all singing, all dancing
Bollywood-esque)
Twelfth Night
and Emer O’Toole in
The Guardian
very different Gujarati
Alls Well That Ends Well
. In approach and tone,
Even in the critical responses to Supple’s
and
The Times
found that Bollywood references in the play that, according
to extensive production notes, certainly were not intended. Lal puts this
down to “the Western critic’s inherently problematising gaze,”
also perceived the Globe to Globe festival itself either as an example of
cultural imperialism (
of feeling “worthy,” or “amateurish,” the “kind of local arts event that’s
).
Such attitudes undermine both the artistic value in the productions that
vffs bxby gspn Bpmmyxppe, boe tiptf xip tpfdi�dbmmy esbx po itt sidi
traditions, which are in themselves hybrid. In an interview with the
Twelfth Night
is not
King Lear
. It is more
like Shakespeare version of a Bollywood blockbuster. Identical twins
separated in shipwreck, cross-dressing, mistaken identities, unrequited
love, high passion, sword fights and happy reunions are the themes that
makeup the plot. Does this not sound like what we in India have all grown
up with and still enjoy? In short, it is total entertainment and we chose to
Ironically, the charge of “Bollywood” was largely absent from critical
responses to this production in the UK press, perhaps because the genre
If some UK critics missed the ways in which the productions analysed
here “spoke back” in postcolonial terms, others who covered the Globe to
marvelled at the universality of human experience encoded in
Shakespeare
’s plays brought home to them by seeing those texts performed
in “other” languages. They were able to grasp the “pre-linguistic”
architecture of the plays through the success of intercultural theatre’s
Productions such as these, which take place along the West–East and
forms of intercultural
P
. As the analysis presented in this essay demonstrates, their purpose
Celebrate and even interrogate such differences as a source of cultural
questions about the power dynamics inherent in the economic and political
location of the participating cultures, even if such questions are evaded in
It has not been my intention here to evade such questions, but to interrogate
the responses to the challenges around power dynamics that recent
intercultural theatre has raised. Translation, subversion and interrogating
slave, colonizer and colonized, and language reinforces the abyss that
divides them.” This essay has shown the state of current critical responses
to intercultural translations as a means of highlighting their potential to
reverse, even fill, that sense of the abyss with new tongues that may be
Wimmtpo Ibssit xsitft pg tif pptfotibm pg tsbotmbtipot tp “tp timt tif �fme
of civilisation so that one may visualize boundaries of persuasion in new
and unsuspected lights to release a different apprehension of reality, the
Accepting that
hybrid spaces can yield formations and meanings that are more than the sum
of their parts allows for such productions to be taken on their own terms: not
as a violation of “our” Shakespeare by “them,” but as free standing artworks
in their own right, even as they celebrate old meanings and provoke new
ones that speak to present concerns. In this sense, productions cease to
be representative of an attempt to overcome Shakespeare as a colonizing
force, or as examples of a postcolonial approximation of colonial culture
In a critical and theatrical space that is open to possibilities, “hybrid sites
of new meaning open up, new borders are encountered and crossed,
often with surprisingly creative results.” Such a space incorporates new
technologies and tongues, actors and audiences can congregate from
several languages and traditions, and Shakespeare
or Bollywood, with differences nuanced and recognized even as they are
1.
Jacqueline Lo and Helen Gilbert, “Toward a Topography of Cross-Cultural Theatre
3.
Ton Hoenselaars,
Shakespeare
and the Language of Translation
(London: Arden,
Homi Bhabha,
The Location of Culture
(London and New York: Routledge, 1994), 56.
5.
Lo and Gilbert, “Toward a Topography,” 46.
6.
A Concise Companion to Postcolonial Literature
Bhabha,
9.
Paul, Friederich, “Language
and Politics in India”
, Daedalus
Current Work and
Lo and Gilbert, “Toward a Topography,” 46.
Lo and Gilbert, “Toward a Topography,” 46.
Lo and Gilbert, “Toward a Topography,” 46.
Lo and Gilbert, “Toward a Topography,” 36.
Tim Supple
Tim Supple
16.
Emily Linneman, “International Innovation? Shakespeare as Intercultural Catalyst,” in
17.
Jyotsna Singh,
Local and Global ‘Indian Shakespeares
.’” (lecture, Shakespeare
Tim Supple
19.
in India,
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 71.
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 73.
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 73.
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 77.
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 74.
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 74.
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 74.
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 74.
P
Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 74.
Atul Kumar, Email interview, February 2013.
Atul Kumar, Email interview, February 2013.
Twelfth Night
Piya Behrupiya
dir. Atul Kumar, Globe
, 27–28 April, 2012.
Twelfth Night
Piya Behrupiya
dir. Atul Kumar, Globe
, 27–28 April, 2012.
Twelfth Night
Piya Behrupiya
dir. Atul Kumar, Globe
, 27–28 April, 2012.
35.
In an email interview Atul Kumar emphasized that “this was improvised, not
pre-planned.”
Tom Bird, personal interview, February 2013.
Sunil Shanbag, Email Interview, February 2013.
38.
The Guardian
, 21
Sunil Shanbag, email interview, February 2013.
Theatre, London, 25–26 May,
Christina Patterson, “Lost in Translation: The Globe’s Shakespeare Season Offers a
43.
Cambridge University Press, reissuing the Duthie and Wilson edition in 2012,
became the classic Cambridge edition of Shakespeare
’s plays and poems until the
44.
Michael Billington, “Much Ado about Nothing,”
The Guardian
, 2 August 2012,
Tom Bird, personal interview, February 2013.
Sunil Shanbag, email interview, February 2013.
Sunil Shanbag, 2013.
Ananda Lal, “We the Globe can Encompass Soon,” 75.
accessed
9 September 2015,
ittp://tinftp�oeib.ioeibtinft.dpn/migf.ttymf/pfppmf/I.
Lo and Gilbert, “Toward a Topography,” 38.
Lo and Gilbert, “Toward a Topography,” 38.
Bengal’s preoccupation with Shakespeare’s plays is nothing new
considering that early English productions took place in “garrison
theatres” catering to the British colonists, the most popular being the Old
Daulah during his attack on Calcutta in June 1756. In Calcutta, then the
capital of British India, the earliest recorded performance is of
at the Calcutta Theatre in the Christmas season of 1780. Performances
Sans Souci Theatres, though most of these performances were dependent
on amateurs—British residents who performed exclusively for British
was enacted in 1814 at Chowringhee
Theatre, an event duly recorded in the
who had “successfully” enacted the play were, in later years, joined by
professionals. It is also remarkable that one-third of the audience on the
In August 1848, Boishnob Choron Addy, an Indian actor, played
at the Sans Souci Theatre. Addy’s role became an index of the
�stt pibtf pg tif Ioeibo bppsppsibtipo pg Siblftpfbsfbo tifbtsf. Amtp,
touring British companies aroused great interest among the city’s students,
inspiring them to productions of their own. Interestingly, the tutors who
educated Rabindranath Tagore at home made him translate all or parts of
N
Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, polymath, scholar and one of the architects of
period’s renowned playwright, actor and director, Girish Chondro Ghosh.
In later years, one also comes across translations by Shochindronath
Sengupta, Nirendranath Roy and Basanta Kumar Roychoudhury, and in
Utpal Dutt’s
xbt ttbhfe tihoi�dbotmy po 27 Sfptfncfs 1975
by People’s Little Theatre, exactly three months after the Emergency
pg 26 Juof 1975 bt Sbcioesb Sbebo io Cbmduttb, bt b dumtusbm sftbmibtipo
against the erstwhile authoritarian Congress regime under Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi. One must take into account that Dutt found only those
translations of Shakespeare’s plays commendable that he thought were
Sunilkumar Chattopadhyay’s
The Merchant of Venice
, Poshupoti
, selected scenes from Nirendranath Roy’s
(ttbhfe po 23 Apsim 1952, Ssffsbohbn) boe Jyptioespobti
(staged on 7 November 1954 by the Little Theatre
Gspup bt Nfx Enpisf), iit pxo
—though according to Samik Bandyopadhyay,
Dutt eventually found the literal translations of Nirendranath Roy and
himself. In both productions of
played the central character, though he had already played the protagonist
in an earlier production in November 1951 by the Little Theatre Group.
The 1951 production created quite a furore as Dutt after a brief stint
the organ for the Communist Party of India.
Dutta specially commented on the narrow stage and bare props that in
no way could diminish the quality of performance. The 1954 production
pg Jyptioespobti Sfohuptb’t tsbotmbtipo, xitofttfe gps tif �stt tinf tif
participation of Sobha Sen, a talented artist and wife
sfruftt. Io b 1972 iotfsvifx, Eutt ibe dpnnfotfe po tif sfdfptipo pg iit
I understood then, that they had travelled to the roots of Shakespeare’s plays,
without hindrance and the foreign attire, that they wore Scottish dress, they
never took notice—because there Scotland, England, Bengal—the audience
had become one, which only the power of a dramatist like Shakespeare
onstage, which
he attempted in the 1975 production, which effected a transformation
suited to a Bengali ambience that not only made Shakespeare a people’s
The Revolutionary Theatre must by definition, preach revolution, a radical
overthrow of the political power of the bourgeois-feudal forces, a thorough
directions and end-notes that Dutt had incorporated into his translation
of Shakespeare’s play indicating movement, emotions, locations and
language for the actors of his group for the sake of topical relevance that
reveals the director-actor’s awareness of an ever-changing dialectical
process. These notes, in a more prosaic verse suited to Dutt’s own age, are
gpuoe io iit pxo iboexsittfo nboutdsipt (sfpspeudfe io psiot cy Tifnb).
What is also notable in them is a greater reliance on actions and gestures
than on elaborate stage props, which was the result of rigorous training
By the time Dutt staged
, if xbt bmsfbey b pipoffsioh �husf
. Iit Littmf Tifbtsf Gspup (PLT), gpsnfe io
1949, had enacted a number of plays by Shakespeare, Shaw and Clifford
theatre. Dutt’s plays became apt vehicles for his Marxist ideology, visible
in socio-political plays such as
Kollol
(sound of the waves, staged in
1965, Miofsvb),
(in the rights of man, staged in 1965,
(nfo pg ispo, ttbhfe io 1964, Psftiefody Jbim),
(tif tio txpse, ttbhfe io 1971, Sbcioesb Sbebo) boe
(tif hsfbt sfvpmt, ttbhfe io 1985, Sbcioesb Sbebo). Tif tucvfstivf
message of his play
Royal Indian Navy Mutiny
government of West Bengal and Dutt was
group were to face further hurdles while attempting to stage plays. In one
Eutt nfotipofe ipx po 26 Juof 1972, tif nbobhfnfot
N
of Rabindra Sadan refused to allow PLT to perform
Tiner Taloar
. Again,
after the immense success of
(dity pg oihitnbsft)
in 1974 a case of treason was registered against the PLT. Dutt recollected
(tsbotmbtipo niof)
made successive attempts to jeopardize the performances of
Dushswopner
at at various places like Chandernagore, Bishwarupa Theatre in
Calcutta and the Academy, and assaulted actors and spectators during a
When we performed Shakespeare’s
, we could understand that there
as a strategy for political protest in the guise of enacting
a “harmless” classic. He elaborates how his theatre company had selected
We all sat down and decided that it was time to strike. After the attack we
sat down again and decided…now we must begin our austere practice of
We would not keep on creating a din. That we felt was coarse political
The years 1957 and 1971 had witnessed the film productions of
by Akira Kurosawa and Roman Polanski, both of whom had explored
not only the nature of ambition but also of political violence that was
the outcome of dictatorship—and both were noted for manipulating
their subject matter in accordance with contemporary relevance. While
Kurosawa considered the self-destructive role of Japan in World War
became a critique of the vested ambitions and
perpetration of violence of the United States of America. Both filmmakers
were, therefore, keen on highlighting the destructive nature of ambition and
century preoccupation with Shakespeare’s plays from the perspective of
a macabre end to absolute monarchy. Therefore, while the tyrant could
boast “There’s not a one of them, but in his house/I keep a servant fee’d,”
his wronged subject bewailed “Each new morn,/New widows howl, new
orphans cry; new sorrows/Strike heaven on the face.” In the nightmarish
condition of Scotland, Dutt saw the reflection of his own country as a
Utpbm Eutt xbt pfsibpt tif �stt tp fotfs Bfohbmi nbiottsfbn esbnb
through translations of Shakespeare. On the other hand, by presenting
Shakespeare in a regional Indian language, Dutt was also decolonizing
tif Bbse. Tifsfgpsf, io iit tsbotmbtipot xf �oe eibmfdtidbm pppptitipot
Mediterranean exotic and the recognizable locale of the Indian villages.
Dutt’s productions amalgamated the past and present, mingled the east
and the west. Western style and Indian taste and tradition. Dialectical
oppositions crystallized into a common man’s Shakespeare, for Dutt found
Shakespeare ideally suited the tastes of the Indian masses, be it the Bengali
middle-class of Calcutta or the village crowd. They were used to plays
“jatra.” These Shakespearean plays moved the crowd to tears and laughter.
Utpal Dutt had trained into Shakespeare production through the hassles of a
travelling company during his years with Geoffrey Kendal and could put up
Here I shall confine myself to discussing Dutt’s transcreation of
transcreation, the means he adopted to make the play accessible to the
ordinary Bengali middle-class without compromising the Shakespearean
ambience, the concessions he made to the requirements of the stage and
how he fitted them to his own ideological understanding of Shakespeare.
original composition, Dutt’s translation of
revealed a flavour
innovative for the purpose of stage performance. Dutt developed the
sparse stage directions of Shakespeare to highlight certain aspects of the
play that he felt would add relevance to his political purpose. Therefore,
the examples given here can be used as evidences of how Dutt regarded
not just as a play of unbridled ambition of one man, but as one
living epitome of sin as well as a tragic hero who was an unwitting victim
for Dutt had become more than a classic. Dutt was, of
N
course, less interested in the nature of the supernatural than Shakespeare
himself and, therefore, in 1.1 the “witches” of Shakespeare become simply
“fl, eui, tffo” (pof, txp, tisff). Spfdigid ttbhf eisfdtipot tffn tp cfhio
With things forgotten. Kind gentlemen, your pains
Are registered where every day I turn
hath chanced; and at more time,
Our free hearts to other.
Sols file & along footlights
On Duncan’s sp. Sols. part and take position.
As Duncan begins to speak the sols. divide themselves into two rows and
Duncan stands with his sons Malcolm and Donalbain on either side.
addresses Banquo as “Noble Banquo,” all three stand up. As Duncan tells
tifis tfdpoebsy pptitipot pottbhf), cut milf Siblftpfbsf putt fnpibtit
on the Duncan’s proclamation about Malcolm as future king, thus,
pfspftsbtioh b eyobttid mfhbdy pg xiidi Eutt tif Mbsyitt xpume ef�oitfmy
ifs mfttfs io gspot pg b �sf. Agtfs “Yft I ep gfbs tiy obtusf,” tif xpume tfbs
tif mfttfs “boe fyit sihit pg �sf.” Sif titt epxo bhbio tbyioh “Iif tiff
hither” and rises suddenly in her excitement on hearing the news from the
up, and then restrains herself. Again with “Come you Spirits” she stands
up boe pmbdft ifstfmg cfgpsf tif �sf. Tif �sf dsfbtft b vitubmmy diibsptdusp
fggfdt boe ibt ptifs tyncpmid inpmidbtipot. It nby ibvf tihoi�fe ifmm�sf gps
Eutt, xiimf it iotfoti�fe tif fmfnfot pg tif Gptiid xiti Lbey Mbdcfti’t
In 1.6, according to Dutt’s stage directions, Duncan enters upstage
with soldiers, attendants. The soldiers divide themselves into two groups,
stand on the left and the right in rows, scatter themselves at the back and
and Fleance on the right, and Angus and Ross a little forward from the
downstage. Duncan says “See, see! Our honour’d hostess” and laughs
(kpliohmy? ispoidbmmy?)—boe tifo “pidlt ifs up.” Tif ispoy pg tif titubtipo
is as profoundly conveyed in Dutt’s translation as it is in Shakespeare’s
Io 2.4 Eutt iotspeudft “Pfbtbot 2 xiti tidlmf tife tp ppmf” b dibsbdtfs
not found in the “Patropatri,” that is, the list of dramatis personae in the
published translation, but was presented during performance onstage. Dutt
of place,/Was by a mousing owl hawked at, and killed” from the Old Man
boe hivft it tp tif pfbtbot, io b tihoi�dbot dibohf po tif pbst pg Eutt,
as the peasant becomes a representative of the faceless masses that now
assumes an identity of its own. As Macduff and Ross engross themselves
in discussions about the naming of the new king and his coronation, both
�stt hsfftioh. Tifo tbyioh “Pustfmg ximm niohmf xiti tpdifty,” Mbdcfti
right downstage, his wife moves towards the gathering in front. Dutt
N
raves and rants at Banquo’s ghost while his wife tries to bring the situation
“Tblf boy tibpf cut tibt, boe ny �sn ofsvft/Sibmm ofvfs tsfncmf” boe
as he advances towards the spectre, Dutt gives his instruction: “Thanes
blood.” Dutt’s version is more of an active version than Shakespeare’s
boe, tifsfgpsf, npsf uoi�fe io inpsfttipo. Tif tdfof cfdpnft tihoi�dbot
but his vulnerability due to his crime as he cowers before Banquo’s ghost.
however, situates it within the castle following the suggestion of the
eighteenth-century critic Capell. Moreover, he introduces onstage (but
opt io iit tsbotmbtipo) “Pfbtbott xiti ipf boe tidlmf” xip ximm tpfbl
In 4.1, Dutt also does away with Hecate and conjoins two short speeches
pg tif tfdpoe xitdi, vfsy tihoi�dbotmy, tp ifihitfo tif tpffe pg bdtipo. Eutt
was aware that this was an adaptation for a different clime and, hence, the
bdtipo op mpohfs sfruisfe tupfsobtusbm tpmiditioh gps Mbdcfti’t �obm suio.
Scene 4.3, another important scene for Dutt as a turning point in the
proscenium stage. Malcolm and Macduff enter from Right; Macduff moves
of three blocks—both characters’ sitting and rising, advancing towards
grievances, belief and disbelief. For the director/translator, the ambitious
Mbdcfti’t epxogbmm it pg mftt tihoi�dbodf tibo tif sfmfvbodf pg tiit tdfof
in depicting the nature of the despot and the quest for an able ruler. In
face,” Macduff presents a fascist authority that had by means of force
and the doctor about the healing powers of Edward the Confessor
“bloody-sceptred.” Though conscious of the social and religious history
pg Siblftpfbsf’t pmbyt, Eutt eie opt effn it �t tp mpbe iit tfyt xiti
Dutt is referring to one of his actors, Samar Nag who also doubled up as
one of the three witches (a common practice in theatre groups since the
of
Sbnbs Nbh, tif ptifs pg Ypuoh Sixbse) io tif �fsdf �hitioh io tif
cbttmf�fme. At tif foe pg tif tdfof Sixbse tbyt “Eotfs, Sis, tif dbttmf.” “Tif
chart” and “music guide” where he uses the compositions of three
Aram Khatchaturian and Dmitry Shostakovich. Especially notable is Dutt’s
use of Stravinsky’s controversial
The Rite of Spring
(originally staged in
Pbsit io 1913) tp nbsl tif inpfoeioh nusefs pg Euodbo, xiidi ppfot up
gustifs pptticimitift, gps tif bueifodf ximm cf mfgt tp xpoefs xiptf tbdsi�df
The “properties” list is in three columns indicating where the items
necessary for enactment are to be placed in the left and right wings and
Dutt plays with his medium, as in his hands Shakespearean characters
speak stylized Bangla in verse used by the educated upper-class,
xifsfbt tif xitdift tpfbl b mbohubhf tibt it uosf�ofe boe typidbm
What is also notable is Dutt’s use of words, which turn out to be
“transcreations” than mere translations. In 1.3 the word “sailor,” which
means simply “mariner” or “seaman,” becomes
majhimalla
which
includes the broader connotation of a “boatman,” or “helmsman” or a
ifbenbo,” bmtp nfboioh “iutcboe” bnpoh tif Sbotibmit, boe tihoi�dbotmy
N
refers to socially backward castes who are exploited and oppressed. Thus,
the “majhimalla” who is the “master o’ th’ Tiger” is also the “master”
tif xigf, xiidi bmtp ibt dpooptbtipot pg “xipsf”), xipn tif xitdift
In 1.5 Lady Macbeth is addressed by the messenger as
Debi
—an
appellation for an upper class/caste woman, but also meaning “goddess,”
invoking ironical overtones in the contrast with her demonical personage.
The porter addresses Macduff and Lennox as
huzoor
using the Urdu
appellation for “master” or authority, including upper class/caste social
At Siblftpfbsf’t Ppstfs (2.3) tpfblt pg ibvioh “obpliot fopuhi,”
converted to
ps Lbltini, fbtimy iefoti�bcmf cy bo
In 1.7 Banquo tells Fleance
: “Hold, take my sword.—There’s
husbandry in heaven;/Their candles are all out,” “candles” not translated
in the equivalent “
” but replaced by
meaning “lamp” in
Io 2.2 “tif numtitueioput tfbt” cfdpnf
seas of Hindu mythology, and the “yew” tree of 4.1 becomes
cut off the nobles for their land; Desire his jewels, and this other’s
house:/And my more-having would be as a sauce/To make me hunger
more.” In Dutt’s translation, “sauce,” which is a taste enhancer, becomes
being the medicinal herb that improves memory
The random samplings from Dutt’s translation show how Dutt
preserved the general structure of the acts and scenes but was at the same
time played with the boundaries. In his essay “Shakespeare and the Modern
not in the past, but in the present life of the nation and of the world. It
the present economy, and is likely to fill in the future economy, of human
thought. A reminder for those whose growing absorption in the narrowing
Utpal Dutt’s philosophy of the theatre and the actor’s craft were
based upon his firm belief in Marxist dialectics, which he viewed as
“a
scientific principle and which declares that nothing in this universe is
static, everything is always changing.”
For him, Shakespearean drama
became a constantly evolving concept, with the audience’s attitude to it
is the downfall of the tyrannical Congress regime. Dutt wanted to convey
that if one king/ruler/regime is replaced by another it is the people of the
and justifies his own mode of compressing scenes and omitting characters
We of this faster age must have our own modes. The director therefore must
remember two points with regard to the spectator he is educating: first, the
modern average citizen is already embittered with struggle, and expects to
see a simplified world on the stage; he wants to see all his feelings reflected
and a solution given, but not in the complicated and painful plane of his day-
to-day life, he must feel heightened by appreciating the peculiar realistic, all
art must be elevating. Secondly, in order to drive home the contents of the
However, during an interview given to Shaibal Mitra (published on 31
), tif bdtps ibe bmtp cfnpbofe tif dibohioh nioetft
it opt nudi eiggfsfot gspn tif kbtsb. Yft kbtsb it op mpohfs tif
same. A change has come in the audience’s perspective. People have
become dissociated from their cultural origins. It is now difficult for them
to listen attentively to the pages of dialogue in
in order to enter its
In his article “Translation, Transcreation, Travesty,” Sukanta Chaudhuri is
of the opinion that “the absorption of Shakespeare in an Indian framework
marks at the same time the absorption of Indian dramatic discourse
within a total colonial discourse,” though he also found Utpal Dutt an
N
exception who produced Shakespeare in more or less “straight” verbal
translations, through theatrically and politically complex productions,
routed through German and Russian responses to Shakespeare rather than
I would add and conclude with Utpal Dutt’s own response in his enigmatic
Mulippbeiyby, Psbcibtlunbs.
vol. 4 (1957; repr., Kolkata: Visva-
Prabhatkumar.
4.
Utpal Dutt,
Dutt,
6.
Samik Bandyopadhyay, “Mukhabandha,” to Utpal Dutt’s translation of
Tapati Gupta, “Shakespeare, the Mediterranean & Utpal Dutt’s Politics of Represen
, Uoivfstity pg Kpmlbtb (1999–2000):
Utpal Dutt, “Shakespeare and the Modern Stage,” in
Vpm. 1 (tfdtipo: Nbtybcitibybl Ampdibob P Sibnbmpdibob), fe. Asup
10.
(New Delhi: National Book Trust,
Gupta, “Shakespeare, the Mediterranean”, 150.
14.
Jagannath Chakravorty, “Translate Me,” trans. Supriya Chaudhuri, in Visvanath
Cibttfskff (fe.),
Word for Word: Essays on Translation in Memory of Jagannath
Rabindranath Tagore’s engagement with Shakespeare at various stages in
his life reveals a tangle of apparent contradictions. In the essay “Religion
for instance, Tagore critiques Shakespeare for his apparent
of his times. “In
Ariel and Caliban, we realize man’s struggle with Nature and his longing
to sever connection with her.”
As for
Macbeth
, Tagore says that the world
three witches appear as personifications of Nature’s malignant forces.”
King Lear
, he argues, the storm on the heath merely echoes the human
conflict in the play and “the tragic intensity of
When by the far-away sea your fiery disk appeared from behind the unseen,
She kissed your forehead, caught you in the arms of her forest branches,
hid you behind her mist-mantle and watched you in the green sward where
AVA
A few early birds sang your hymn of praise while the rest of the woodland
Therefore at this moment, after the end of centuries, the palm groves by the
Indian sea raise their tremulous branches to the sky murmuring your praise.
The attitudes reflected in these two pieces of writing are so contradictory
that it seems hard to believe that both came from the same pen. In this
paper, I examine Tagore’s evolving attitude towards Shakespeare to argue
that it was neither simple nor innocent, but always related in complex
ways to personal, literary and political factors. Such a study can be
valuable in at least three respects. First, it adds to our understanding of
the colonial context that framed Tagore’s perception of his relationship
own creative theory and practice, his fluctuating reputation at home and
abroad, and his troubled relationship with the critical establishment. Third,
it serves as a window to Tagore’s inner conflicts, the ruptures within his
own self that he sought to negotiate through his writings. It then becomes
multiple valences in Tagore’s conceptual and critical vocabulary. This
these two literary giants. Instead, through the prism of Tagore’s responses,
it attempts to evaluate some aspects of Shakespeare’s significance as a
point of reference in the emergence of Tagore as a founding figure of
Tagore’s relationship with Shakespeare began early. He says that he
xbt cpso bt tif dpo�ufodf pg tisff hsfbt npvfnfott, sfmihiput, mitfsbsy
I was born and brought up in an atmosphere of the confluence of three
movements, all of which were revolutionary. I was born in a family which
had to live its own life, which led me from my young days to seek guidance
In the enlightened, liberal, eclectic atmosphere of the Tagore home at
alongside wide range of Indian texts and other works in translation. In
, Tagore recalls being stirred
impotent lamentation, the all-consuming fire of Othello’s jealousy.”
In 1874, Rabindranath translated
into Bengali as instructed by
his tutor Gyan Chandra Bhattacharjee. This early exercise in translation,
though later dismissed by Tagore as an immature attempt, is nevertheless
fall of Tagore’s international reputation. Tagore’s familiarity with
Shakespeare’s play would also surface again, much later in his life, when
, in the early stages of his life, was deeply moved by “the
passionate emotion in English literature,” acknowledging the powerful
io�ufodf pg tif Eohmiti Sfobittbodf esbnbtittt: “nbo, tifo, tffnfe
sanctuary of his being, there to discover the ultimate image of his own
violent desire.”
His own early plays, such as
Raja o Rani
(1890), dmfbsmy tipx tif io�ufodf pg Siblftpfbsf. Aoboeb Lbm
eftdsicft tifn bt “fmbcpsbtf �vf.bdt tsbhfeift npefmmfe bgtfs Siblftpfbsf,
sfpmftf xiti cmppe boe tiuoefs, efdmbnbtipo, pbmbdf iotsihuf, dpo�idtt pg
the major roles and plebeian prose by lower-class characters.”
Among
other features, Tagore borrowed from Shakespearean drama the idea of
Sanskrit dramaturgy.
By and large, this indebtedness to Shakespeare
was part of Tagore’s overall acceptance of the norms of contemporary
tifbtsidbm psbdtidf io Bsitbio, sf�fdtfe io tif utf pg obtusbmittid tfttioht,
Although Tagore did not write a systematic critique of Shakespeare’s
xpslt boe tifis tihoi�dbodf gps iin, dpnnfott tdbttfsfe bdsptt iit
tifpsftidbm xsitioht cfbs put tif gbdt tibt if xbt effpmy io�ufodfe cy
Shakespeare at this stage. In the preface to
Malini
(1892), he acknowledges
the centrality of Shakespeare in the shaping of contemporary Bengali
dramatic model. Their manifold
vbsiftift boe fytfotivfoftt boe dpo�idtt ibe dbptusfe pus nioe gspn tif
1892) he says: “By subjecting the human being to a turmoil that shakes
his very being, Shakespeare has bared his entire humanity to view.... In
this, there is a high philosophical crest, from where the widest panorama
of human nature becomes visible.”
According to him, Shakespeare offers
us “the perennial man...not merely the surface man” and this explains why
“we look upon Shakespeare’s portrayal of extraordinary and powerful
AVA
1892), Tagore
makes several important statements. He points out how altered contexts
and changing world views have also transformed literary expression:
‌‌‌ n olden days, there was a deep unity of opinion and attitude among
envisage and represent the human being.”
15
In contrast to this, he speaks
‌‌‌ he inner world has become very complex, and the path, too, is very
He declares: “it is not the individuality of the author, but the
is humanity that is the goal.”
It is this quality in Shakespeare that evokes
his admiration. Tagore is often compared to the Romantics because of his
intense empathy with nature but, here, he seems to move away from the
lyrical impulse of romanticism, to endorse the idea of the literary text as
a space for the articulation of general human and social realities rather
It is clear from Tagore’s statements that at one stage in his career, he
xbt ifbvimy io�ufodfe cy Siblftpfbsf. Gsbeubmmy, ipxfvfs, if cfhbo tp
move away from Shakespeare in his own creative practice and also in his
critique of Western dramaturgy. “
” (“The Theatre”, 1902)
the use of backdrops and stage props on the Bengali stage, blaming the
tsfoe po Eusppfbo io�ufodf: “Eusppfbot dboopt ep xitiput tif tsuti pg
material fact. It is not enough for the imagination to delight their minds,
it must make the imaginary simulate the actual and beguile them as it
The theatre we have fashioned in imitation of the West is a cumbrous and
bloated object. It is hard to move and impossible to take to the common
people’s door: in it, Lakshmi’s owl virtually obscures Sarasvati’s lotus. It
Later, in
Creative Unity
, his criticism becomes even more stringent. He
as one of the strengths of Renaissance drama: “In the Western dramas,
human characters drown our attention in the vortex of their emotions.”
Renaissance drama, the elaborate realism of contemporary European
At work here is not only a literary impulse but a deeper political motive:
to argue for a less submissive attitude towards the culture of the colonizer.
The Tempest
with Kalidasa’s
remains a landmark. In “Shakuntala” (1902) he
�oet tinimbsitift cftxffo tif txp pmbyt, cut it npsf fnpibtid bcput tif
Shakuntala’s simplicity, unlike Miranda’s, is not girt around by ignorance....
Miranda’s simplicity is not tested by fire: it does not encounter any conflict
with worldly wisdom. We see her only in the first stage of development;
We see Miranda in the midst of a wave-lashed, desolate, mountainous
island; but she has no intimate relationship with nature on that island....
The island is only required for the plot; it is not essential to the character....
Shakuntala is not an isolated being like Miranda; she is linked in spirit to
But what disturbs Tagore most about Shakespeare’s play is its expression
of what he calls the Western will to conquer and dominate: “In
Tempest
, power; in
Sibluotbmb
, peace. In
The Tempest
, conquest
through force; in
, fulfilment through beneficent power. In
, interruption halfway through the process; in
It is impossible not to notice the marked change of tone in Tagore’s
comments on Shakespeare at this stage in his life. What historical,
literary and personal contexts account for this change of attitude? For
one thing, there was the rising tide of nationalism in India and, with it,
to the literary establishment at home, to assert the need for a “modern”
Indian literature inspired by indigenous tradition rather than an imitation
of foreign models. In personal terms, Tagore felt the need to shore up his
troubled reputation by positioning himself as the descendant of Kalidasa.
In Tagore’s construction of “Shakespeare,” therefore, the personal is also
the political. In the process of self-fashioning, he uses “Shakespeare”
boe “Kbmiebtb” bt tihoi�fst, tp fohbhf tinumtbofputmy xiti Wfttfso
AVA
Tagore’s autobiographical writings reveal his sense of historical
location, because he locates the moment of his birth at the intersection of
three important movements. A similar historical sense is at work in his
understanding of Shakespeare. In “Shakuntala” and “The Religion of the
Forest,” Tagore projects Shakespeare as a representative of his culture and
bmtp bt tif pspeudt pg b pbstidumbs ttbhf io iittpsy. If dmbsi�ft tibt iit bin it
Amit Chaudhuri takes
of Orientalist discourse, he cites James Mill’s critique of the Ramayana
boe tif Mbibcibsbtb bt �dtipot tibt bsf “fytsbvbhbot,” “uoobtusbm” boe
“npottsput,” xsittfo io b ttymf dibsbdtfsizfe cy “Io�btipo . . . sfpftitipo;
Amit Chaudhuri says that “Tagore
classicism as an essentially Oriental literary distinction and Orientalizing,
Tagore,
Anit Cibueiusi tbyt, xbt pof pg tif �stt Ioeibo ppftt tp sfdphoizf tif
potential of the Orient (though a “Western” construct) as an idea useful for
the anti-colonialist cause, regarding “the Orient and its unbroken past as a
Amit Chaudhuri’s argument is useful in highlighting Tagore’s political and
strategic use of Shakespeare and Kalidasa. He says: “Tagore wants to trace
b miofbhf gspn botiruity tp npefsoity, boe gspn Kbmiebtb tp, tpfdi�dbmmy,
Anit Cibueiusi’t bddpuot, �ofmy oubodfe tipuhi it it, btdsicft tp
Tagore a nativist nationalism that does not do full justice to Tagore’s
dpnpmfy boe �ofmy oubodfe sftppotf tp tif Ebtt/Wftt fodpuotfs. Anit
without taking into account the presence of a contrary impulse in Tagore’s
writings, namely, a profound admiration for Shakespeare and a generally
eclectic approach to questions of cultural difference. He does acknowledge
that the polarization of “East” and “West” in Tagore’s statements is not
as simple as it appears, for the Orient that Tagore claims for himself
includes several elements traditionally associated with European culture:
“Easternness, in his work, is no longer incompatible with individualism,
with the self-consciousness about the powers and limits of language, or
Amit
Chaudhuri argues that Tagore here is opposing a bourgeois orthodoxy in
Kpmlbtb boe “dpo�btioh iit iefotity bt bo Psifotbm boe iit vpdbtipo bt b
This is valid up to a point, but remains a limited understanding of
Tagore’s argument, which needs also to be framed within broader issues
such as humanism, and the relationship between man and his environment.
Tagore’s critique of Shakespeare sets him apart from other Bengali
his stance should not be read as shallow nativist nationalism. As Sukanta
Rabindranath’s differing view is not owing to parochialism of taste and
certainly not to any cultural chauvinism. It is chiefly because of his
Though Tagore became more critical of Shakespeare in his later life,
he clearly found Shakespeare’s influence hard to shake off. This
ambivalence persists throughout Tagore’s long and chequered career.
While he critiques some of the features of Shakespeare’s writings that
strike him as embodying certain flaws in Western culture, he remains
alive to the value of some aspects of Shakespeare’s legacy. On issues of
as a touchstone. In 1928, commenting on his own play
(the English version of
) Tagore says: “the human soul has
inner drama, which is just the same as anything else that concerns Man
attempt to explain the interiority of Sudorshana. Though Tagore had
ostensibly moved away from Shakespeare in his later works, especially
in his symbolic drama, readers also notice the influence of
Tagore remains discriminating, though, in his choice of favourite
Shakespeare texts. In the essay “Sahityer Mulya” (“The Value of
1941), he dismisses
Vfout boe Aepoit
and
as works
of ephemeral value and makes it clear that he does not think much of
Mietunnfs Nihit’t Esfbn
. But he has a different opinion about characters
to the portrait gallery of human nature; there, through the ages, crowds
A Mietunnfs Nihit’t Esfbn
Tagore’s later works testify to his continued admiration for some
aspects of Shakespeare. In the novel
Farewell Song
AVA
liberal approach to the study of literature and that the language of love
can cross the barriers of time and place. In relation to the orthodox critical
establishment of his own land, he projects English literature in general
eclectic approach to art that would liberate Indian literature from the
), written
shortly before his death, Tagore recalls the thrill of attending classes in
English literature during his early stay in England. In his imagination,
Shakespeare still remains emblematic of the richness of English literature.
In Tagore’s later years, a turn away from Shakespeare thus runs parallel
the English dramatist. This dual attitude expresses, at one level, some of
the tensions and contradictions within Tagore’s own psyche. In relation
tp tif dpmpoibm fotfspsitf, Tbhpsf �oet it ofdfttbsy bt dfstbio npnfott tp
distance himself from Shakespeare as a representative of Western cultural
and political domination in order to claim instead a place among the great
internationalism and cosmopolitanism, and uses him as an example with
which to critique the narrow, imitative practices of his contemporaries
in Bengal. In this respect, his willingness to accommodate Shakespeare
tispuhi tiit pspdftt pg ioofs dpo�idt, Tbhpsf’t tipuhit hfttusft bt b
recognition of the need to rise above limiting binaries. A fragmented self,
Tbhpsf’t xsitioht bmtp sfvfbm b ttspoh mfvfm pg iefoti�dbtipo xiti tif ppft
gspn fmtfxifsf. At tinft, gps iottbodf, if sfhbset Siblftpfbsf bt b tihoi�fs
pg tif �dlmfoftt pg gbnf, tpnftiioh Tbhpsf iintfmg ibe fypfsifodfe. But
io tif tusvivbm pg Siblftpfbsf tispuhi tif bhft, if bmtp �oet mivioh psppg pg
the writer’s ability to rise above his circumstances and of the power of art to
outlive passing fashions in taste. Tagore’s understanding of Shakespeare’s
relevance to India involves the recognition of the capacity of the creative
imagination to travel beyond geographical boundaries and cultural divisions.
This form of cultural border-crossing had been Shakespeare’s achievement,
and
the Nobel Prize, Tagore’s works had also triumphantly crossed the barriers
tribute to Shakespeare bears a strong personal resonance as well as a utopian
message regarding the power of literature to connect different cultures. In
Tbhpsf’t fodpniun, Siblftpfbsf, �stt fncsbdfe cy Eohmboe bt ifs pxo
progeny, eventually soars above the local realm to inhabit the mid sky,
“making all quarters of heaven” his own. And ultimately, crossing the
cpuoebsift pg tpbdf boe tinf, iit xpset bssivf bt tif Ioeibo tipsf, boe �oe
Therefore, at this moment, after the end of centuries, the palm groves
by the Indian sea raise their tremulous branches to the sky murmuring
In this tribute to Shakespeare’s trans-cultural significance, we see a mirror
image of Tagore’s own aspiration for a place in the international galaxy
1.
Rabindranath Tagore,
2.
Rabindranath Tagore,
Tagore,
4.
In 1915, the Shakespeare Tercentenary Committee published a special volume to
dpnnfnpsbtf tif Bbse. Eniofot mitfsbsy �husft gspn bdsptt tif xpsme dpotsicutfe
organizers. The Bengali version had appeared in
Sbcuk Pbtsb
(Efdfncfs 1915/Jboubsy
5.
, ed.
Israel Gollanz (Oxford: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1916), 321.
Rabindranath Tagore, “Autobiographical,” in
The Essential Tagore
boe Sbeib Ciblsbvbsty (Cbncsiehf, MA: Ibsvbse Uoivfstity/Bfmlobp Psftt, 2011), 41.
7.
Rabindranath Tagore,
Tagore,
Ananda Lal, “Introduction to Tagore’s Plays,” in
Rabindranath Tagore: Three Plays
10.
See, for example, Prabhatkumar Mukhopadhyay,
Rabindrajibani,
vol. 4 (1957; Kolkata:
Lal, “Introduction,” 28.
Rabindranath Tagore, introduction to
Govt. of West Bengal, 1961), 485. Cited in Das, “Shakespeare in Indian Languages,”
Ioeib’t Siblftpfbsf: Tsbotmbtipo, Iotfspsftbtipo boe Pfsgpsnbodf
AVA
13.
14.
Tagore, “Sahityer Pran,” 851.
Tagore, “Sahityer Pran,” 854.
Tagore, “Sahityer Pran,” 855.
18.
Rabindranath Tagore, “Rangamancha,” (The Theatre) trans. Swapan Chakravorty,
Sbcioesbobti Tbhpsf: Sfmfdtfe Wsitioht po Litfsbtusf boe Lbohubhf
K. Das and Sukanta Chaudhuri (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001), 98.
“Sbohbnbodib” xbt pucmitife io Efdfncfs 1902/Jboubsy 1903 io
Tagore, “Rangamancha,” 99.
20.
Tagore,
Creative Unity
, 50. V. Chatterjee, in “Tagore as a Shakespearean Critic,”
bshuft tibt Tbhpsf, xiimf if bppsfdibtfe Siblftpfbsf’t “ppxfsgum ppstsbybm pg io�oitf
21.
Rabindranath Tagore, “Shakuntala,” trans. Sukanta Chaudhuri, in
Rabindranath Tagore:
Sfmfdtfe Wsitioht po Litfsbtusf boe Lbohubhf
, eds. Sisir K. Das and Sukanta Chaudhuri
Tagore, “Shakuntala,” 240.
Tagore, “Shakuntala,” 251.
Rabindranath Tagore, “The Religion of the Forest,” cited in Amit Chaudhuri, “Two
Cmfbsioh b Spbdf: Sf�fdtipot po Ioeib,
James Mill, cited in Chaudhuri, “Two Giant Brothers,” 138.
Chaudhuri, “Two Giant Brothers,” 138.
Chaudhuri, “Two Giant Brothers,” 124.
Chaudhuri, “Two Giant Brothers,” 136.
Chaudhuri, “Two Giant Brothers,” 125.
Chaudhuri, “Two Giant Brothers,” 125.
31.
Sukanta Chaudhuri, introduction to
Rabindranath Tagore: Selected Writings on
Litfsbtusf boe Lbohubhf
, ed. Sukanta Chaudhuri (New Delhi: Oxford University Press,
Vitvb.Bibsbti Qubstfsmy
insists that if a person mocks Javanese dancers for their apparent lack of realism, “he
offet nutt bmtp mbuhi bt Siblftpfbsf, xiptf ifspft opt pomy �hit io nftsf, cut fvfo
33.
Sbiityfs Mumyb
14 (Kolkata: Visva-Bharati,
Kalidasa: Early Indian Translations
Within the site of Indian literary studies, the names of Shakespeare
translator is often found translating Shakespeare as well as Kalidasa in
his native language, thus, bringing more or less simultaneously, both the
modernity, in which Shakespeare exemplifies the epitome of Western
modernity and Kalidasa of Indian classicism, or what I call traditionality.
This essay will attempt to map the processes of negotiating Shakespeare
and Kalidasa as one of modernity versus tradition or classicism and
the attempts at hybridization of both in the Indian literary and critical
The project of translation is generally perceived as a process of transfer
of a particular text from one linguistic culture to another, centring on
tif rufttipo pg �efmity. Tiit fttby tfflt tp mppl bt tif bdt pg tsbotmbtipo
as a voluntary choice made by a translator and the resultant transaction
are at the centre of the translation activity. Moreover, by subsuming the
sphere, the essay approaches the Shakespeare–Kalidasa exchange from the
H
periphery to the centre. Therefore, I begin by charting out the translators,
publishers and places where translation occurred and then discuss the
William Jones was the first to refer to Kalidasa as the “Shakespeare
Consequently, for the Orientalist school, Kalidasa’s drama
became the epitome of the Indian literary tradition. Following Jones’
, critics note that Kalidasa’s heightened
canonical status brought about a significant change of attitude towards
Indian literature within Orientalist studies.
Sibluotbmbn
was received
of the play in 12 different languages followed Jones’ translation. The
made throughout
reception in Europe.
became the window to view and judge Indian literature and
only “opened up boundaries of humanism but also fostered a widespread
revaluation of national literatures.” She elucidates this point further by
strict Aristotelian rules.
undeniably becomes one of
The following is an extract from the preface to
Sbdpotbmb ps Tif Fbtbm
At length a very sensible Bráhmen, named Rádhácánt, who had long been
attentive to English manners, removed all my doubts, and gave me no less
delight than surprise, by telling me that our nation had compositions of
the same sort, which were publickly represented at Calcutta in the cold
season, and bore the name, as he had been informed, of plays.
at my leisure to read the best of them, I asked which of their Nátacs was
most universally esteemed; and he answered without hesitation, Sacontalá,
“The ring of Sacontalá, in which the fourth act, and four stanzas of that
act, are eminently brilliant, displays all the rich exuberances of Calidása’s
genius.” I soon procured a correct copy of it; and, assisted by my teacher
Rámalóchan, began with translating it verbally into Latin, which bears so
hsfbt b sftfncmbodf [367] tp Sbotdsit, tibt it it npsf dpovfoifot tibo boy
modern language for a scrupulous interlineary version: I then turned it word
material sentence, disengaged from the stiffness of a foreign idiom, and
prepared the faithful translation of the Indian drama, which I now present
to the publick as a most pleasing and authentick picture of old Hindû
manners, and one of the greatest curiosities that the literature of Asia has
Jones’ preface clearly demonstrates that, from the very first reading itself,
and
Sibluotbmbn
his masterpiece—“of the same sort were publickly
represented at Calcutta,”—the likes of Shakespeare. Jones’ work was
a passing introductory reference that he made, the commentaries and
Chandra Chatterjee and even Shri Aurobindo all contributed to the
For India of the late eighteenth century, the analogy proved to be a
threshold for beginning a critical discourse. On the one hand, the cultural
fydibohf xbt tihoi�dbot gps tif pspdftt pg Ioeibo iefotity gpsnbtipo, boe
on the other, the Shakespeare–Kalidasa comparison became the site for
the intersection of colonial modernity and Indian traditionality perceived
as classicism, the later criticisms and comparisons being built upon this
were Shakespearean plays essentially meant for an English audience.
Indian dramatic literature was still in the process of evolving, though its
observed that the earliest of this dramatic literature followed two distinct
ttsboet: �stt, tif fypmpitbtipo pg tif bvbimbcmf pppumbs boe gpml tsbeitipot
with some adjustment with classical drama and, second, the creation of
dramatic literature on the European model. Both strands were active,
functioned and coexisted, even as each remained distinct from the other.
While there is evidence of folk theatre in most Indian languages, it
theatre had changed a lot because of the emergent colonial modernity. The
interesting characteristic of this early modern Indian drama is the synthesis
H
of European modernity and Indian classicism/traditionality. In order to
understand this, we need to take a look at the process of construction of
a historical past for India, while repeatedly pointing out that India lacked
It was around the mid-eighteenth century that Orientalists such as
William Jones and Henry Thomas Colebrooke endorsed the idea of the
golden Indian past situated in the remote, uncharted Vedic time. This view
scholars, hence, felt a deep need to dramatically reconstruct history in
order to create a different self-image.
amalgamation of elements both from the golden (Vedic) past and from
The Orientalist–Anglicist debate is not limited just to the area of
history and history-writing. The issue seeped deep into the Indian
psyche. Natalie Robinson Sirkin and Gerald Sirkin in “The Battle of
Indian Education: Macaulay’s Opening Salvo Newly Discovered” point
to the repercussions in India with respect to Western education. What is
interesting about the perception of Western education is that along with
being anti-tradition it was, importantly, economically empowering and
Unfortunately, in their opposition to cultural imperialism, the Orientalists
of Indian studies would produce no body of men trained to replace the
British in administering government and managing a modern economy.
The Orientalists’ education program was a program for the maintenance
of the status quo; it was a traditional education for a small elite. In this
at all ambivalent. Whenever they were given an opportunity to express their
preferences, they over-whelmingly chose English and a modern education.
The ancient culture embodied in the Sanskrit and Arabic literature could
be safely left a little longer in the hands of the pundits and the moulavies,
where it had rested for so many centuries; the rising middle class of Bengalis
The ideas of “traditionality” and “modernity” therefore go beyond their
conventional meanings. Since precolonial India was looked at as being
traditional, conservative and stagnant, the concept of the “modern” itself
influences of Western modernity, the entrenched concepts of tradition and
may not necessarily be mutually exclusive entities. In fact, towards the late
of a synthesis of the Western and the indigenous traditional. The history
of Shakespeare’s reception and representation in India may be regarded
Many of Shakespearean translations into Indian languages are found to be
fyfdutioh tif Eohmiti ttpsy io tif Ioeibo tfttioh boe xiti Ioeibo tihoi�fst
and names. Hence, it is not just a coincidence that many early translators
in Indian languages have attempted to translate both Shakespeare and
Tif Siblftpfbsf–Kbmiebtb pvfsmbp tihoi�ft b dpnpmfy dumtusbm
a conspicuous attempt to synthesize colonial modernity with Indian
classicism/traditionality. How is this process of bringing together
modernity representing new knowledge systems, and traditionality
representing classicism conceived by the Indian translators? In particular,
how is this ambivalence revealed through the Shakespeare–Kalidasa
In considering the data collected during my research in the zone of
translation for this chapter, I have used the information available in the
Bicmiphsbpiy pg Ioeibo Litfsbtusf
1901–50, Vpmunft I, II, III boe IV,
published by Sahitya Akademi. The bibliographic information of Kalidasa
Sihoi�dbotmy, io dbtf pg tfvfo mbohubhft, xf ibvf tif iottbodf pg tif
same author translating both Shakespeare and Kalidasa. These languages
are Assamese, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Sindhi and Tamil.
the translated work, the publishing agency, and the year and place of
publication. The tabular format offers an overview of the comparative
A study of the various components/processes of translations, such as
titles, year of translation, translators and their background, publisher,
purpose of translations and so on for both Shakespeare and Kalidasa will
throw further light upon the nature of this process. Although there are
H
boe fbsmy txfotifti dfotusift. Aeeitipobmmy, nbppioh tif psp�mft pg tif
tsbotmbtpst ibt ifmpfe, tp b tihoi�dbot fytfot, io uoefsttboeioh tif pspdftt
of this exchange. To begin with, I take up the cases of a few individual
translators and then explore the case of the Hindi renditions of Shakespeare
Amongst the translations taken up in this essay, Basavappa Shastri’s
(1843–91) bsf tif pmefs boe pof pg tif gistt tsbotmbtipot pg
Sibluotbmbn
and
of Kalidasa and goes on to translate one more of Shakespeare. We find
that a majority of the plays have been published from Mysore, the capital
of the princely state of Mysore. Additionally, he was patronized by the
then maharaja of Mysore and a theatre company was engaged to perform
patronage during his time. After he was orphaned at the age of six he came
under the royal tutelage of the Maharaja of Mysore. Thereafter, he became
an exceptional scholar in Sanskrit, music and gamaka. The translation of
Aciikñāobśāluotbmbn
uoefstblfo io 1883 xbt uoefs dpust pbtspobhf. Iit
translations became so successful that he was later conferred the title of
“Aciiobvb Kbmiebtb” ps tif ofx/npefso Kbmiebtb. Sibttsi io tif 1880t
translated five more plays from Sanskrit into Kannada, among which
It xbt io 1895 tibt if tsbotmbtfe Siblftpfbsf’t
into Kannada.
Interestingly, Shastri had no knowledge of English so a collaborator who
, was under court patronage and executed at the insistence
Tif tfdpoe tsbotmbtps tblfo up ifsf, E. V. Guoebppb (1889–1975)
ibt cffo b xfmm.lopxo �husf io Kboobeb mitfsbsy iittpsy. Ibvioh npsf
tibo 60 cpplt tp iit dsfeit if xbt bxbsefe tif Pbenb Biutibo cy tif
hpvfsonfot pg Ioeib io 1974. Uomilf Bbtbvbppb Sibttsi, Guoebppb
been in the service of the British for at least two generations, and he
His
it lopxo tp cf tif �stt gbitigum vfstf tsbotmbtipo
of Shakespeare. In fact, in the preface to the play, he emphatically
I believe that this is necessary for the advancement of Kannada literature and
the sensibility of the Kannada people and for the broadening of their vision
of their world. If human civilisation and peace are to last, it is of foremost
importance that different races of the earth attain a world vision. In order
to achieve this, people in the west should read our epics, the Ramayana
consists of selected verses from
Aciikñāobśāluotbmbn
Aciikñāobśāluotbmbn
H
of thirty-five Kannada songs. Gundappa is one of the key figures associated
with modern Kannada literature. Closely associated with journalism, he
not only Shakespeare and Kalidasa but also of other authors of English
Literary scholars like Sukanta Chaudhuri have pointed out that
Kannada’s response to Shakespeare is in two ambivalent and parallel
streams of sensibilities; the earlier one corresponding to the stage tradition
and the later to the literary tradition. The two phases approximate the
phases of adaptation and literary translations. A study of both Basavappa
Shastri and Gundappa translating Shakespeare and Kalidasa suggests that
hybridity was the practice and outcome both during the adaptation phase
While Basavappa Shastri was a court protégé, Mirza Qalich Beg of Sindhi
literature was of Georgian ancestry and his father had served in the court
of the Talpur dynasty. He is known today as one of the biggest writers
Tif vfsy �stt Sioeii pmby,
Lbimb Mbkou,
is acknowledged to have been
and
his plays were repeatedly staged in amateur theatres from time to time.
seems to be indisputably
io 1896 tibt
Bfh tsbotmbtfe �vf pmbyt pg Siblftpfbsf, nptt pspcbcmy gps esbnbtid
productions, but all of them in the same decade. There is just a year’s
and of The
Though the cases of the translators during the emergence of print
culture show various shifts in the traditional systems of patronage,
equally, the nineteenth century was still a time when court patronage
tihoi�dbotmy eftfsniofe tif obtusf pg mitfsbtusf io psiot. Tif iovpmvfnfot
of the dramatists on the other hand, showcases a popular demand on part
of the audience who would be eager recipients of both Shakespearean
nboebmit
with dramatizing, adapting and staging both Shakespeare and Kalidasa.
Anna Saheb Kirloskar and the Parsi theatre. Two playwrights who were
Lilf tif Miszb io Sioeii, Gpvioe Bbmmbm Efvbm (1855–1916) io Mbsbtii xbt
also a playwright and had collaborated with
(1890) pg Aoobtbifc
Kirloskar. An actor and playwright with the Marathi theatre pioneered
nboebmi io tif 1890t.
, titled
. Deval wrote seven plays for the stage, of which six were
adaptations: three were in Sanskrit and three in English. The most interesting
feature of Deval’s plays was that his plays were musical productions and
Natak itself signifies
that these were musical plays and Deval is known to have written the songs
was one of the plays that greatly helped in
H
Pammal Sambandha Mudaliyar has been another well-known figure from
Tamil drama. He is known to be the father of the Tamil dramatic movement
and has produced hundreds of Tamil plays for the stage. The Tamil stage
got a new direction thanks to him, it is believed. A lawyer by profession
boe bmtp bo bdtps milf Efvbm, if xsptf npsf tibo 80 pmbyt, xiidi xfsf
directed by him. His six volume work,
Mftbi Niobvulbm
Das also
observes that this work was of great literary value not only for studies in
the Tamil literature, but also because it brought in a change in the attitude
The information available about Kumaragurapara is scanty. However,
Sambandha Mutaliyar not only translated several of the Shakespearean
and Kalidasa plays within the same decade but, indeed, a majority of them
The following section will examine the biographical context of the various
works undertaken by Lala Sitaram—translator, teacher, administrator
Lala Sitaram, who apart from translating Shakespeare in Hindi had also
translated six plays of Shakespeare in Urdu, was a very well-known
gihusf pg iit tinf. Bpso io Aypeiyb io 1861, Sitbsbn sfdfivfe iit fbsmy
education in Ayodhya and Fyzabad. Thereafter, he pursued a BA from
Canning College, Lucknow and secured the first position in the university
to do so. This feat was
celebrated with great jubilation in Lucknow in the Safed Baradari.
host of lucrative opportunities would have been available to him, but he
art of composing ghazals in Urdu was noticed by the famous poet Ghulam
Hasnain “Qadra” Bilgrami, whose
he forthwith became and took
“Azm” as his
Interestingly, after one year of his
service in Education, Sitaram himself destroyed his ghazals, deeming
them “unbecoming of his profession.”
The long list of translations from Shakespeare and Kalidasa needs to be
understood within the context of the changes in Lala Sitaram’s professional
dbsffs, iit iotfsfttt boe iit tiigt gspn Useu tp Iioei sf�fdtioh tif Iioei–
Urdu divide. Sitaram had started contributing towards literary journals
even as a student. His writings found their way to
Avbei Puodi
Avbei
Alcbs.
20
During his tenure as the headmaster of schools in Sitapur, Kanpur
(Cawnpore) and Meerut, he translated four of Shakespeare plays into Urdu:
Kioh Lfbs
Sibi Lfbs
Cpnfey pg Esspst
Bium Biumbiyb
Mudi Aep
His son (Kishor) recalls that the most interesting feature of these
tsbotmbtipot xbt tibt tify xfsf tif “�stt tp cf psiotfe po hppe pbpfs boe
H
in crown octavo size, which gave them the appearance of English books.
For years later the vernacular books still continued to be printed on the
paper in quarto size.” The “vernacular” here is, of course, the
translation of the canon, most probably introduced as the source material
for students. Nevertheless, this observation marks out the special status
of Shakespearean translations, both in terms of their reception as well as
Sitbsbn’t tsbotgfs tp Bfobsbt io 1883 cspuhit bcput b tihoi�dbot tiigt
in his literary interests. Hitherto he had written only in Urdu, but now his
taste developed both in Hindi and Sanskrit literature. The Persio-Arabic
words refer to the Persio-Arabic lexicon, which is absent in the sanskritized
He got acquainted with Bharatendu Harishchandra and was encouraged
Kbtii Pbtsilb
that he wrote the Hindi
verse translation of the
Mfhieutbn.
Around that time he also corresponded
with F. Max Muller and G. Thibaut on behalf of Pandit Ram Mishra
bt, uomilf tif Pboeit, if xbt psp�difot io Eohmiti. Lbtfs, tif nbibsbkb pg
Ayodhya, Sir Pratap Narain Singh,
became his patron and he translated
many Sanskrit works into Hindi for the maharaja. Notable amongst these
were Kalidasa’s
. The latter was dedicated
to the Maharaja himself. Possibly, he kept working simultaneously on
Although Sitaram’s literary output decreased after he was appointed
general, because his writings were meant to be introduced into university
H
He planned to bring in the ancient knowledge systems into
Hindi. Interestingly, his earlier translations of Shakespeare in Urdu were
redone during his stay at Ayodhya. The Urdu translations of
Kioh Lfbs,
Mudi Aep bcput Nptiioh, Tfnpftt boe Cpnfey pg Esspst
were worked
His revivalist attitude towards Hindi cannot go unnoticed either.
He had drawn up a scheme at Benares for translating into simple Hindi all
that was to be had in the ancient Sanskrit learning of the Hindus and he felt
that it should be the heritage of every Hindu to know what advances had
been made in the various branches of learning in this country of ours....
His chief idea in limiting his Urdu activities and adopting Hindi was that
Hindi was the language of the masses and it was only through this language
that he could hope to reach the desired objective. He had formed the idea
of bringing out a series of six volumes in each of the following subjects:
Our Ancient Epics, Our Ancient Theatre, Our Ancient Mathematics, Our
Although Sitaram was not able to complete all these planned volumes, this
emphatic effort in reviving and making accessible in the simplest possible
the traditional within the public domain and, many a times, using new
In the Hindi literary sphere there could be a playwright like Agha
Hashra Kashmiri who changes a tragedy,
Kioh Lfbs
into a comedy in
Sbgfe Kippo
(1906), cut, io tuso, bmtp dsfbtft b pmby xiti ttspoh
characterization with a twist at the end. Such transformations have been
Bachchan who translates only two plays, but substitutes the English
, making his translation effective
boe ppxfsgum, ps milf Jbytibolbs Psbtbe xip xpume fyiicit tif io�ufodf
of Shakespeare in his own Hindi writings. Sitaram’s approach is very
different from all three: while he does not make an exceptional mark by
way of his renditions, nevertheless he is one of the translators with the
Tsbotmbtioh Siblftpfbsf eusioh tif tinf xifo if xbt �stt tfsvioh bt tif
head master of a school, Sitaram’s translations are typically “Indianized”
cities in
Spnfp boe Jumift
, translated as
Psfn Kbtbuti
(1931), bsf sfobnfe
would be translating essentially for a dramatic production, hence, making
amendments, Sitaram would stick to the story and act sequence and
xpume io gbdt tsy Ioeiboizioh tif ppftid ieipn tpp. Tiit ibt tihoi�dbot
implications for Shakespearean translations in Indian languages, as many
early translations in Indian languages exhibit such a trend. Jagdish Prasad
The translator (Sitaram) puts the sense of Shakespeare’s plays into simple
Hindi and tries to convey the meaning faithfully. But the prose of the
translation is not able to capture the spirit of the original puns and quibbles…
the translator’s eyes are always fixed upon presenting the apparent meaning
For instance, Romeo’s words, in
Spnfp boe Jumift
that never felt a wound.” have been translated as “Jisake paunva na
parayi,” an old Hindi adage well suited to the
verses, which might not be adequate in articulating the entire imagery.
H
The use of colloquial language or a rhymed-verse translation, in what
is usually designated as adaptation, however deviant it might be, points
to the fact that indeed there is an attempt to “construct” a domestic
identity. As Venuti explains in “
Tif Sdboebm pg Tsbotmbtipo
” that “not
of foreign cultures but, since these projects address specific cultural
constituencies, they are simultaneously engaged in formation of domestic
identities.” One can thereby argue that while Sitaram would continually
use the traditional, domestic idiom to interpret Shakespeare to its detail,
his conscious use of Hindi as the second and final medium of the same
plays first done in Urdu further contributes towards the ambivalent and
complex domestic identities that are at play in the process of translation
While the English canon could be earlier used for educational purposes
and, hence, needed to be translated into the then popular language Urdu,
increasingly growing given the Hindi–Urdu divide. Sitaram attempts to
put Kalidasa in the same language to propagate the traditional Hindi idiom.
His case is only one among many others who would take a similar stance,
The attempts to enrich modern Indian drama through translating
Shakespeare and Kalidasa almost simultaneously, by the same translator,
suggests a process of negotiating colonial modernity and classicism
on the one hand and the process of construction of an Indian literary
tsbeitipo tibt sf�fdtt itt hsfbt dmbttidbm pbtt boe bo frubmmy tihoi�dbot
colonial modernity on the other. From the cases of the translators
discussed previously it is apparent that the emergent scholarship in the
other cases of translators and dramatists who attempted to democratize,
in one idiom or the other, the drama of Shakespeare as well as Kalidasa.
Given the amount of the data available and the diversity of the Indian
mitfsbsy tfssbio, it it eig�dumt tp dpnf up xiti b tiohmf fypmbobtipo gps tudi
the “modern” was in itself a unity of the traditional/indigenous and the
modern/Western. Also, with so many indigenous translators, publishers,
patrons and institutions participating in the literary process and formulating
the print public sphere, it is possible to say that the Shakespeare–Kalidasa
interface may be considered to be of more historical and cultural value
than literary. Shakespeare is often called an “accommodating ideal,” which
has time and again played its part in reviving and revitalizing the Indian
stage practices. Perhaps Kalidasa too can be called an accommodating
ideal that has enabled such scholars as Sitaram and others to exhibit their
complex relationship with the “donor culture,” and most importantly in
The hybridity that has been discussed here has been problematized
with Shakespeare becoming Shek Pir in Kannada, as observed by
Sbtybobti (2004), io xiidi tif butips nblft utf pg b tlftdi cy tif
gbnput Ioeibo tdumptps, pbiotfs, bstitt boe gsffepn �hitfs S.S. Nbieu.
, in this
book, would sum up the consequences of the East–West encounter and
thereby colonial modernity and Indian classicism aptly.
nature of Shakespearean colonial modernity and Kalidasa’s classicism
appropriately visualized, would at the same time provide a subversive
1.
tibt ibvf yft dpnf tp ny lopxmfehf, bsf b tfdpoe pmby, io �vf bdtt, fotitmfe Usvbtí;
an heroic poem, or rather a series of poems in one book, on the Children of the Sun;
another, with perfect unity of action, on the Birth of Cumára, god of war; two or three
of Terentianus; but he is believed by some to have revised the works of Válmic and
Vyása, and to have corrected the perfect editions of them that are now current: this at
least is admitted by all, that he stands next in reputation to those venerable bards; and
in his Raghuvansa would have supplied him with a number of excellent subjects.”
William Jones, “Translator’s Preface” in
Sbdpotbmb Ps Tif Fbtbm Sioh: Ao Ioeibo
2.
Tsbotmbtioh tif
Psifot–Tif Sfdfptipo pg Sbluotbmb io Nioftffoti Cfotusy Eusppf
3.
Tsbotmbtioh tif Psifot: Tif Sfdfptipo pg Sbluotbmb io Nioftffoti.
William Jones, preface in
Sbdpotbmb ps tif Fbtbm Sioh
5.
A Iittpsy pg Ioeibo Litfsbtusf: Wfttfso Inpbdt: Ioeibo Sftppotf,
Uma Chakravarty, “Whatever happened to the Vedic Dasi? Orientalism, Nationalism
and a script for the Past,” in
Sfdbttioh Wpnfo, Ettbyt io Cpmpoibm Iittpsy
, ed. Kumkum
Sislio, Nbtbmif Spciotpo boe Gfsbme Sislio. 1971. “Tif Bbttmf pg Ioeibo Eeudbtipo:
Macaulay’s Opening Salvo Newly Discovered.”
14, op. 4: 407–28.
Tif ebtb dpmmfdtfe io tif pbpfs, pfstbioioh tp 1900–50 ibt cffo dpmmfdtfe gspn tif
National Bibliographies. For data pertaining to the late nineteenth century, other sources
Aotipmphy pg Ioeibo Litfsbtusf
KM Gfpshf Vpm. I, SbiitybAlbefni1994 pspviefe tif titmft boe tif pucmidbtipo yfbs.
Therefore in many cases the publication agencies are not known. Though the table
demands more discussion, only the relevant points pertaining to this paper have been
Mbtti Vfolbtfti Iyfohbs boptifs nbkps butips pg npefso Kboobeb bmtp xsptf tfvfsbm
Tif Mbibsbkbt pmby b nbkps spmf io tif pspdftt pg opt pomy mfbsoioh boe pucmitiioh
scenario. Just like the maharaja of Myosore, the maharaja of Ayodhya, Narayan Pratap,
too was a writer. Narayan Pratap’s own work,
Sbtblutunblbsbstibt Sbiityblbfl Aoutib
in which he was assisted and helped by Lala Sitaram a translator, taken up
mbtfs io tiit dibptfs, it io ittfmg bo immuttsiput xpsl xiti himt psiott boe �psbm Vidtpsibo
print art. The idea behind the work is to re-systematize his subjects of
Bfgpsf tif Eivief: Iioeu boe Useu Litfsbsy
[Nfx Efmii: Psifot Bmbdltxbo, 2010], 267) Tiut, opt pomy xfsf tiftf sumfst
H
G. Venkattasubbaiah,
Guttal Vijaya, “Translation and Performance of Shakespeare in Kannada,” in
Ulrike Stark,
Ao Enpisf pg Bpplt: Tif Nbvbm Kitipsf Psftt boe tif Eiggutipo pg tif
17.
Fpuoefe io 1867, tif Cbooioh Cpmmfhf xbt bg�mibtfe tp tif Uoivfstity pg Cbmduttb, uotim
1921. Io nptt pspcbcimity, Sitbsbn xpume ofvfs ibvf ttueife io Cbmduttb. Iit ppttioh,
18.
Tif Sbgfe Bbsbebsi xbt cuimt cy tif mbtt Kioh pg Axbei, Wbkie Ami Sibi, bt bo
io 1854. Agtfs it xbt boofyfe cy tif Bsititi io 1857, it xbt utfe gps tif
British court proceedings. Therefore Sitaram’s special convocation could take place
19.
Iotfsfttiohmy tif tbnf xbt epof cy boptifs pg iit dpotfnppsbsift boe dpmmfbhuft xipn
he was to work with in the court of Maharaja of Ayodhya. Jagannath Das ‘Ratnakar’,
Avbei Puodi boe Avbei Alcbs xfsf cpti kpusobmt pucmitife io tif Uoitfe Pspviodft.
Pandit Ram Mishra Shastri was professor of Samkhya in Benaras College and was
documented by Henry Steel Olcott in
Pme Eibsy Lfbvft 1878–83: Tif Pomy Autifotid
Iittpsy pg tif Tifptppiidbm Spdifty.
These closely linked circles of literary scholars
The Maharaja of Ayodhya was himself a writer and had been a class fellow of Sitaram.
A close association with a learned king can also be recalled in the case of Basavappa
volumes was an outcome of his correspondence with Ashutosh Mukherjee, the vice
chancellor of Calcutta University. Accordingly the work was also introduced to the
syllabus of the university. While this work is noble not only because it involves a lot
of primary research, but it is all the more interesting in terms of its bilingual form.
It is notable that the university would include a bilingual form for propagating Hindi
literature, which would be in its budding stages during that time. The ”modern” and
24.
Siblftpfbsf’t Inpbdt po Iioei Litfsbtusf
(New Delhi:
Furthermore it is important to see that even if it is not a single person translating both
xiti tif ptifs butips xiti bo iotihoi�dbot tinf hbp io cftxffo. It xpume cf iotfsfttioh
to explore the role played by the theatre companies in commissioning the translations
26.
The reference here, is reproduced from T.S. Satyanath, “How Does Shakespeare Become
The unperceived; specifically fate, luck or
Literally means ornamentation and refers to the
medieval Indian literatures.
Alankara Shastra
is
A word which has its origins in Sanskrit. “Bahu”
means arms and “bali” stands for strength.
“Bahubali”, therefore, refers to a person who
Indian music usually that is performed during late
evenings and during the spring season of the year
An early morning
in a concert. In overnight performances of folk
plays, songs in this
are sung during early
in Carnatic classical
The Sun-god. Chief of the eight great gods
, classified by
Refers to the dance tradition of temple courtesans
of South India, which has been subsequently
P
A respectable, middle class gentleman; carries
A genre of
Kbvyb
, which is a mixture of
prose (
Gbeyb
), with prose
interspersed among verse sections. It is popular in
old and medieval Sanskrit, Kannada and Telugu
in Hindi literature that makes use of units of
, but
The language, especially dialect, of the masses. The
“departure,” signified by the root “chal,” from the
form, marks it off as a baser language used,
Nature or disposition of a person as based on
An Islamic sacred place representing the tomb
of a Sufi saint and a venue for
anniversary of the Sufi saint. A
religious school (madrassa), residences for
The Beginners
Bfohbmi–Eohmiti Eidtipobsy
, “the language
” However, the term has
not been enlisted either in Monier-Williams’s
A Sbotlsit–Eohmiti Eidtipobsy
or in William
in Hindustani classical music that is
usually performed in the early afternoon and
A folk percussion instrument used in performances
Refers to the oldest form of singing style in
Hindustani classical music. It also denotes the verse
A two-line lyrical verse-format, which was
A character from the epic
The Mahabharata
, also
referred to as Guru Drona, who was the royal
preceptor to the Pandavas and Kauravas and was
A character from the epic
, a
young prince of the Nishadha, the son of Vyatraj
Hiranyadhanus, the king of the outcasts in the
Kingdom of Magadha. Ekalavya aspired to study
archery from Guru Dronacharya who refused to
train him in spite of his skill. Deeply hurt but not
broken or defeated, Eklavya didn’t give up on his
resolute will to master archery and collected the
mud on which his
walked, as a symbolic
gesture of desire to follow his knowledge and
footsteps, and later went into the forest and made a
statue of Dronacharya under a huge tree. He began
a disciplined program of self-study over many
years and became an archer of exceptional prowess
P
Refers to an ornamental style of rendering
Carnatic classical music. Medieval Kannada
poetry’s rendering is also called
Gamaka
, which is a melodious rendering of the
verse (
A cheap, coarse hand-woven cloth used as a
easily identifiable by an
The Urdu appellation for “master” or authority,
A social group that forms a caste or a sub-caste
amongst the Hindus. These castes/“jatis” are
An open-air rural opera or dramatic performance;
ancient Kannada literature that is based on Prakrit
. Ornamental
to
Refers literally to ‘praise’, ‘eulogy’. Broadly refers
to the singing of devotional compositions and
performing of episodes of Bhakti hagiography.
In medieval Kannada and Telugu literatures and
also refers to
and worst of the four Yugas or ages, the present
age, age of vice.... [It is] personified as the son
‘Injury,’ and as
‘Calumny,’ two
children, viz.
Bibyb
, ‘Fear,’ and
Msityu,
‘Death’.”
A six-line verse found in Braj Bhasha literature
that literally means ‘a coiled serpent’. This is
because the stanza coils upon itself like a serpent,
with its last word or phrase repeating the first
describing a person who is physically challenged
A folk genre of music and dance performed to
A derogatory term for “woman.” Can be used to
—divine incarnation of passion
A great classical poem. Used here in the sense of
A “boatman” or “helmsman” or a “headman”;
A monastic or similar religious establishment
were the centers of learning during the medieval
A Sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘to
gatherings and can be religious, commercial,
cultural, including the village fairs where a
use to take place. It was an important pre-colonial
A percussion instrument used in the performance
P
Invocatory songs in the praise of a deity
presented as a mark of an auspicious opening
to a drama. It has been considered as the most
important of the
purvaranga
(preliminaries)
Sbusbcib: Sbotlsit Esbnbtid Tifpsy
by G. K.
The Bengali counterpart of an English barber.
The Sanskrit equivalent is
Kshurin
. One who
is acquainted with the customs related to his
enacts “the affairs of men with the Sentiments,
the States, and the Temperament.” In the words of
M. L. Varadpande, Nata is a “versatile theatrical
personality.” The word is derived from the root
“nat” which means to dance and act and, as H. N.
Specifically refers to the female counterpart of
It is not used as a generic term to denominate the
In Indian theatrical tradition, the term refers to
a play of the first order. It is the first of the ten
s (drama, literally meaning “figurative”).
Natok, in this sense, are especially erotic or
heroic representations of myths or legends or
historical anecdotes. However, the term has been
used here in parlance with its present day usage,
referring to any show or mimic representation
The
Nātybśāttsb
;
Ioeibo Tifbtsf: Tsbeitipot pg
Nātyb–
Mbñkbsī–Sbusbcib: Sbotlsit Esbnbtid Tifpsy
by
A Sbotlsit–Eohmiti Eidtipobsy
by
Monier-Williams
Refers to a verse in general, but specifically to
verse that is sung in
style from
The word stands as a combination of three
. Compounded
the supreme deity. In this sense, pati transcends
It refers to one who is “devoted” to her husband
A chaste woman who reveres her husband and
As defined by Monier-Williams’, “original,
natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual.... [A]ny
provincial or vernacular dialect cognate with
Sanskrit (esp. the language spoken by women
Man/the husband is the master, woman/the wife
The chief priest of the royal office; usually the one
One of the two wives of Madan—the Kama-deva
(while the other wife is Priti). Rati symbolizes the
amorous pleasures, carnal desires and enjoyment
Refined form of Bangla language used in literary
works or as formal address by educated upper-
P
The chaste form of the language “Bangla.” The
language adhered to “good, virtuous, honourable,
The term generally refers to a good, virtuous
and faithful wife. In specific use, it refers to
the one who immolates herself by burning with
, an incarnation of splendour, light,
, which literally means
in Hindi literature that is written in praise of
someone in which every verse is one and quarter
Siblftpfbsfs hpmpp
Shakespeare’s stories, tragedies and comedies
An
Akshra-chandas
meter in Sanskrit with
seventeen syllables with caesura (
The term is used here in the sense of moral as well
defines the character as “[o]ne who
the
principles (
these] in conformity with one another.” However,
show), for the term stands as a combination of
two words—sutra and
dhara
—literally, string
not attest the second view. For, the term sutra not
only means string, but also refers to principles,
conventions, rituals, as well as aphorisms.
Likewise, dhara refers to bearing, observing and
even preserving, and not just holding. Read in
this sense, the description of the term Sutradhar
is closer to its description in
Traditionally, and even in the plays in context, the
Sutradhar is a male character who has as his female
counterpart, supposed to be his wife, the Nati. For
The
by H. N. DasGupta;
Iittpsy pg Ioeibo
Tifbtsf: Lplbsbohb, Pbopsbnb pg Ioeibo Fpml
by M. L. Varadpande and
A Sanskrit–
Monier-Williams defines the term as “self-choice,
the election of a husband by a princess or daughter
of a Kshatriya at a public assembly of suitors.”
However, considered as a combination of
txbybn
, where the first word means “of one’s
“environing, enclosing” (not as a bridegroom as
it is presently known to mean), it leads us to very
different level of critical understanding where
swayamvara loses its feminist stand and implies
A pair of percussion instruments used in the
A traditional form of Marathi theatre, often with
singing and dancing, widely performed by local
or travelling theatre groups within the state of
P
It is a ritual primarily performed in the North
Malabar region in Kerala in which various
deities are worshipped. “Theyyam” is a word
derived from the word
daivam
, meaning god and
the word
attam
, meaning dance. It is the “dance
of god” where the performers, necessarily from
a lower caste, embody a god or an immortal
Arabic in origin and literally means ‘wedding’,
the term suggests the death anniversary of a
Sufi saint in the Indian context and takes place
As in Monier-Williams’s
A Sanskrit–English
Eidtipobsy
, it is “a rule, formula, injunction,
for the performance of a rite as given in the
Bsāinbo˙b ppstipo pg tif Vfeb). Tiut vieiit bsf
Etymologically, the word refers to one who
transgresses and, thereby, defiles. A vidusaka
points out, “ready-witted,
a maker of funs, and whose speech is always
connected (lit. adorned) with the disclosure of
extremely humorous ideas.” The character, thus,
can be conceived as an approximation to that of a
pg Ioeibo Tifbtsf: Lplbsbohb, Pbopsbnb pg
Refers to the introductory slow tempo in the
Refers to meters in the ancient Kannada literature
that correspond to Sanskrit meters based on
. They are usually four line
meters with a fixed number of syllables and
A person in charge of, employed at, or concerned
with a particular thing (used in combination):
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is Professor of English and Director, Institute of
Lifelong Learning, University of Delhi. She received her BA in English
(Hons.) from Presidency College, Kolkata, and her PhD from Brown
University, where she was awarded the Jean Starr Untermeyer Fellowship.
and a Mayers Fellowship at the Huntington. She has taught at Stanford
University and IIT-Delhi and has been invited to lecture at universities
in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia. She has been the President of the
Shakespeare and the Art of Lying
Shakespeare
Word Image Text: Studies in Literary and Visual
(co-ed.) and
Signifying the Self: Women and Literature
(co-ed.).
Babli Moitra Saraf
is the Principal of Indraprastha College for
Women, University of Delhi, where she is an Associate Professor in
the Department of English and heads the department of Multimedia and
Mass Communication. She received her MPhil degree in English and
PhD in Sociology. She is fluent in several Indian and foreign languages
(Einaudi 2004)
(Theoria 1996) are Italian translations of the Bengali
(2007), is a translation
of oral history and documents from Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, recounting
the effects of the Partition of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
is on the editorial board of
, dedicated to Hindi translations directly from foreign
P
Moitra Saraf has been a scholar under the Indo-Italian Cultural
Exchange Program, Visiting Scholar under the Fulbright-Nehru
International Education Administrator Program, a Research Associate and
Visiting Faculty at the NIDA School of Translation Studies. She received
the Distinguished Teacher Award of the University of Delhi, the Amity
Women Achiever in Education Award, the 27th Dr S. Radhakrishnan
Memorial National Award for Teachers and the Distinguished Alumnus
Award from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, for Lifelong Pursuit of
Institute, University of Birmingham, supervised by Professor Michael
Dobson. Her research interests include Indian Shakespeare film and
She works at the Royal Shakespeare Company and is a co-editor of the
. Her work on Asian Shakespeare productions
(2013),
Cahiers Elisabethains
(Autumn 2013) and
Multicultural Shakespeare
is Professor, Department of English, Jadavpur
University, Kolkata. She completed her doctoral studies on early modern
discourses of madness from the University of Oxford. She has been a
Visiting Fellow at the Universities of Oxford, Liverpool and Hyderabad.
Women Contesting Culture
, co-edited with Professor Kavita
is a writer, critic and translator. She has co-edited
which was nominated the Book of the Year 2011 by
Martha Nussbaum. She has translated Tagore, Bankimchandra and several
contemporary Bengali writers into English. She is Professor of Comparative
Claire Cochrane
is Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of
Worcester in the UK where she both teaches and directs Shakespeare
as well as other early modern drama. She holds her MA and PhD from
the Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham. In addition
to publishing widely on Shakespeare in performance including her first
Shakespeare and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre 1913-
and twenty-first century British regional theatre history. Her most recent
(CUP, 2011). She also writes extensively on developments in
Black British and British Asian theatre and audiences. Her most recent
publication is
Sandip Debnath
is Assistant Professor in the Department of English,
GLA University, Mathura. His areas of interest are modern Indian drama,
teaches at Maharaja Manindra Chandra College, University
of Calcutta. Her books include
Real and Imagined Women: The Feminist Fiction
Eliot’s Fiction
Paramita Dutta
, MPhil, PhD, from Jadavpur University, is currently
working as Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Rammohan
College, Kolkata. Her research interests include Shakespeare and
Renaissance studies, Shakespeare and film, Shakespeare in India, Indian
theatre and she is also fond of writing short stories and learning foreign
languages. She has presented papers nationally and internationally and
her recent international publications include an article on Tagore’s
Bidaay
in the anthology
The Politics and Reception of Rabindranath
Tagore’s Drama: The Bard on the Stage
(Routledge, 2015) and a
short story titled ‘The First Time’ in the collection
Himani Kapoor
pursued an MPhil from the Department of Modern Indian
Languages and Literary Studies, Delhi University. Her dissertation was
entitled “Mapping Translations of the Bhagwad Gita.” She is currently
working as an Assistant Professor of English at Amity University, Gurgaon.
P
is a student of the University of Delhi. She holds an MPhil
degree from the Department of English, University of Delhi. She is
currently a guest lecturer at the Department of Germanic and Romance
Studies, University of Delhi, where she is teaching undergraduate
students.
is Professor of English, Utkal University, Odisha.
Educated at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack and Merton College, Oxford, he
won the KATHA Translation Award in 1997 and the Hutch-Crossword
Book Award in 2004. He has co-translated Fakir Mohan Senapati’s classic
(Six Acres and a Third; 2005, 2006)
into English. His other publications include the English translations of the
Odia novels
(Astride the Wheel, 2003) and
Desa Kala Patra
(A Time Elsewhere, 2009). The thematic collections that he has edited
Reminiscences: Excerpts from Oriya and Bangla Autobiographies
Sayantan Roy Moulick
is an independent researcher. He was, until
recently, a guest lecturer in the Department of English at Vidyasagar
T. S. Satyanath
is a former professor at the Department of Modern Indian
are comparative Indian literature, translation studies, folklore studies and
is a Research Fellow in Global Shakespeare at the University
creative writing from Royal Holloway, University of London with a focus
in colonial and postcolonial India. She is a winner of the
BBC/AHRC’s New Generation Thinker award for outstanding research
Buckingham, 115–117, 119
Charles Spencer, 185
by Western reviewers, 186
Dutt’s transcreation of Shakespeare’s
colonial modernity, 141
and popularity, 47
class struggle and city, 47, 48
Indian Shakespeare Quest, 114
itinerary of different Parsi theatres, 136
play, 181
Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Nagpal, Amitosh
P
films and the city, 53, 54
play, 175–187, 189, 190, 256, 258
Shakespeareana to Shakespeare Wallah,
Tamil translations of, 227
effect on Bengali literature in, 25, 26
Shakespeare Wallah
, 108, 111, 112, 114, 123
Buckingham, 115–117, 119
neologism, 110
Tagore, 209
Tagore and Shakespeare
Tamil translations of Shakespeare and
theatre, 175, 176, 180, 184, 186–188,
The Merchant of Venice
The Tempest
, 211
Ton Hoenselaars view, 186
first translations from Kalidasa and
SAGE
was founded in 1965 by Sara Miller McCune to support
the dissemination of usable knowledge by publishing innovative
and high-quality research and teaching content. Today, we
publish over 900 journals, including those of more than 400
learned societies, more than 800 new books per year, and a
growing range of library products including archives, data, case
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a charitable trust that secures our continued independence.
Los Angeles | London | New Delhi | Singapore | Washington DC | Melbourne
789351
509745

PANJA
The book is an important intervention in the ongoing explorations in social and cultural
history, as it explores how Shakespeare has impacted the emergence of regional identities
around questions of language and linguistic empowerment in various ways. It reveals an
extraordinary negotiation of colonial and postcolonial identity issues—be it in language,
in social and cultural practices or in art forms.
It marks 400 years of Shakespeare's legacy.
Shormishtha Panja
is Professor,
Department of English, and
Director, Institute of Lifelong
Learning, University of Delhi.
Principal, Indraprastha College
for Women, University of Delhi
and Associate Professor in the
An adaptation of Shakespeare’s
plays as a basis of critical
exploration of identity
formation in India.
Even while a conscious dismantling of colonization was happening since the
century, the Indian literati, intellectuals, scholars and dramaturges were engaged in
deconstructing the ultimate icon of colonial presence—
. This book delves into
what constitutes
Shakespeare’s plays adapted in visual culture, translation, stage performance and cinema.
Performing



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