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William Shakespeare classics that came alive on screen

William Shakespeare classics that came alive on screen

Over the years there have been several screen adaptations of the Bard’s plays. Some managed to rake in the mullah while others faded into oblivion. After all, when it comes to bringing to life Shakespeare’s work, it must be top notch, and justifiable to the book.
Hollywood has had its tryst with Shakespeare, with some of the movies being as good as the play. And not just Hollywood, closer home, we have our very own desi version of the Bard’s works. Lending his own touch (and twist) to Shakespeare, Vishal Bhardwaj has had a great run at the box office with Maqbool, Omkara, and Haider. Or Sanjay Leela Bhansali, by adapting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the form of Goliyon ki Raas Leela – Ram Leela.


anchor hamletHamlet is perhaps one of the most adapted on screen, and there have been debates over the best one. Be it the Oscar winner Laurence Olivier’s 1948 version, or Franco Zeffirelli’s Mel Gibson-starring version, or Kenneth Branagh’s take on Hamlet, which featured Kate Winslet as Ophelia. Also worth watching is Michael Almereyda’s modern take (2000) on the classic play. Hamlet, brought to life by Ethan Hawke, is a filmmaker, struggling to gain control of his dead father’s company, while the new boss manages to take control of the proceedings.


anchor macbethShakespeare’s Macbeth is perhaps of the most compelling character. Though he’s essentially villainous, one doesn’t feel so strongly about him than one does for the manipulative Lady Macbeth. Greed to become the next king, Michael Fassbender as Macbeth murders king Duncan, played by David Thewlis (Harry Potter fans will remember him as Professor Lupin) with encouragement from Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth. Even though he manages to take over the throne, the guilt of killing Duncan haunts Macbeth and he starts hallucinating. The movie (2015) was both emotional and visually stunning.

Romeo & Juliet

anchor romeo julietThis 1996 tragic love story was brought to the screen by Baz Luhrmann in the form the handsome Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet. Giving the tale a modern touch, but retaining the old text, the story shifts to the Montagues and Capulets and gang wars of Venice Beach, California. Instead of drawing swords, the characters here are pulling triggers of guns named after the swords from the original text.

Much Ado About Nothing

anchor much adoPacking punch with Hollywood royalty like Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Briers, Imelda Staunton, this 1993 comedy of mistaken identities is by far the best adaption. Though there have several Much Ado About Nothings on screen, nothing beats Branagh and Thompson’s character portrayal on screen. Also, what makes this one worth a watch, is Keanu Reeves (who would have thought!) as the villain.


anchor CoriolanusBrooding and bloodthirsty, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut keeps everyone glued to their seats with jaw-cracking performances. Joining Fiennes (who plays Coriolanus) is Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius and Jessica Chastain as Virgilia. Set in a present day Italian state, the dialogue deliver, the combat scenes are a perfect tribute to Shakespeare’s play.


anchor OthelloThe moor of Venice has been brought to screen by biggies like Lawrence Olivier (1965), Orson Welles (1952), Anthony Hopkins (1981), Sergei Bondarchuk (1955). But the one that stands out amongst the (white) Othello’s is the 1995 version which saw the talented Laurence Fishburne play the titular character. Complementing Fishburne’s Othello is Kenneth Branagh (again) as the evil Iago and Irene Jacobs as the lovely Desdemona.

The Tempest
anchor tempestHellen Mirren stars as Duchess Prospera (and not Prospero) in this adaptation of The Tempest, directed by Julie Taymor. The film is a visual treat and the several twists in the tale keeps you hooked till the end.

anchor maqboolMaqbool boosting of a talented star cast like Pankaj Kapur, Tabu, Irffan Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, and Om Puri, catapulted Vishal Bhardwaj to success (and international fame). An adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the film see Irffan Khan playing the title character, a henchman of an underworld don, Pankaj Kapoor, who falls in love with the don’s wife, Nimmi. Nimmi propels Maqbool to murder Khan and become the next leader. Though the film didn’t do well at the box office, the performances are commendable.

anchor omkaraAfter having tasted success with Maqbool, Vishal Bhardwaj, tried his hand at bringing the Bard’s classic Othello to screen. In this screen adaptation of the play, Ajay Devgn plays the desi moor of Venice, Kareena Kapoor Khan as his lover and wife Dolly (Desdemona), Saif Ali Khan as the evil lieutenant Langda Tyagi (Iago) and Vivek Oberio as the loyal lieutenant Kesu (Cassio). The film also has talented names like Kokona Sen Sharma, Deepak Dobriyal, Naseeruddin Shah, Bipasha Basu and Kamal Tiwari.

anchor haiderVishal Bhardwaj again turns to the Bard for inspiration and adapts the renowned Hamlet into Haider. Set in Kashimir, Shahid Kapoor after a lull in his career, tasted box office success as Haider. Adding to weightage to the cast was, critical performances from Tabu, Irffan Khan, Kay Kay Menon and Shraddha Kapoor.
Goliyon Rasleela – Ram Leela
anchor ram leelaIf Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptations of Shakespeare was down to earth and hard hitting, Sanjay Leela Bhasali treatment of Romeo and Juliet oozed of grandeur and colourful hues. Ranveer Singh as Romeo and Deepika Padukone as Juliet set the screen on fire with their sizzling chemistry. With a supporting star cast like Supriya Pathak, Sharad Kelkar, Gulshan Devaiya, Richa Chada, Raza Murad among others along with foot-tapping songs was a treat to the eyes.

This post was syndicated from Free Press Journal. Click here to read the full text on the original website.


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