Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj distinctly remembers the first time he watched Gulzar’s Angoor. He thoroughly enjoyed the film and fell in love with the story. However, it’s only when the closing credits appeared that he realised the movie was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. The film stayed with him and years later Bhardwaj reinterpreted the Bard’s plays in his own work — Maqbool (2003), Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014).
Now, Bhardwaj is part of a project that will mentor emerging talent from India to make a Shakespearean-themed film.
“I’m here today because of the films that I have made based on Shakespeare’s plays,” said Bhardwaj, at the announcement of a collaboration between Cinestaan Film Company and Film London, the two production houses behind the initiative. Vikas Bahl and Ritesh Batra — the other two mentors — were present at the event, along with Cinestaan’s founder-creator Rohit Khattar and Dina Dattani from Film London. “Shakespeare has so much resonance in India. We were very excited when the project was pitched to us,”
As part of the initiative, five teams from India, each comprising a writer, director and producer, will be selected for an intensive training programme. Out of these five projects that draw from Shakespeare’s works, one will have a theatrical release in 2016 as part of Shakespeare 400 — a year-long cultural programme by Film London, marking 400 years since his death.
Bahl confessed, “I’m one of those people who think Shakespeare is high-level literature and cannot be made into movies that are a commercial success at the box-office.” Bhardwaj, meanwhile, shared how he sketched Shabana Azmi’s character in Makdee (2002) after watching Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Macbeth).
The scripts can be in any Indian language or in English. Both Cinestaan and Film London will invest £2.5 lakh each to produce the selected project. Applications can be submitted on cinestaanfilmcompany.com by May 25.