Malayalam filmmaker Jayaraj says adapting William Shakespeare’s Macbeth for his upcoming Kunal Kapoor starrer Veeram was a huge task. The historical drama tells the story of Chandu Chekavar, played by Kapoor, an infamous warrior in the 13th century North Malabar. “A Lot of great filmmakers have made this adaption. So, it was a challenge for me. How differently I can do this, with the technical support. I made ‘Veeram’ for the festival circuit but at the same time I am trying to release it in the commercial, mainstream space also,” Jayaraj said.
When asked if he saw filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj’s Maqbool and Omkara, adaptations of Macbeth and Othello, he said, “No, I haven’t seen the films. Vishal saw my version of Othello. But I didn’t see his.” The filmmaker was in conversation with Mayank Shekhar at the 47th edition of International film festival of India (IFFI), here. Jayaraj has, in the past, adapted Shakespeare’s Othello for his critically acclaimed Kaliyattam.
The filmmaker, who has done both commercial and art-house movies, feels extremely close to Shakespeare’s writings. “Shakespearean adaptations are my passion. The other kind of films I make is purely experimental. This is a passion… Shakespearean plays, almost all the tragedies, are still relevant.”
Veeram was made simultaneously in Malayalam, Hindi, and in English. The director, however, revealed that making the movie in Hindi came only after Kapoor was on board as the lead. “I planned to do the film in Malayalam and English. While looking for the cast, Kunal came in. So the whole working with him, I realised why not do it in Hindi also. We used to shoot the scene in three languages. Almost all the dialogues the actors
had to by-heart.”
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Veeram is the fifth instalment in Jayaraj’s ‘Navarasa’ series and the filmmaker plans to make four more movies to complete the series. When asked whether he would have made Veeram like Baahubali, Jayaraj said, “Not at all. This is absolutely an
experimental kind of a film. I made a 100 per cent experimental, artistic film, if it is good it’ll be good on the commercial front too.”