Shakespeare & Bollywood This workshop poses the question: what is it about Shakespeare’s writing that has proved so congenial to adaptation in recent Hindi cinema? Paying attention to the idea of “masala” as mixture — mixed genres, mixed audiences, mixed locations, mixed languages — Harris will tease out the unexpected Shakespearean qualities of Hindi cinema and the masala qualities of Shakespeare. In particular, Harris will show how Shakespeare’s language finds an uncanny counterpoint in the language of the masala movie, including the lyrics of songs and (unexpectedly) item numbers. As a result, workshop participants will realise how, if Shakespeare were alive today, he might just be writing for cinema rather than for theatre, and for Bollywood rather than for Hollywood.
Jonathan Gil Harris is Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of English at Ashoka University. The author of the best-selling The First Firangis (2015), he is also President of Shakespeare Society of India and author of six books on Shakespeare and his contemporaries. His articles on Shakespeare and Hindi cinema have been published in The Hindustan Times, The Hindu, and The Week. These form the basis of his book-in-progress, Masala Shakespeare, which considers the often unexpected convergences between Shakespeare’s drama and Indian story-telling, performance and entertainment traditions.