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1.) It is no mystery that Bollywood is greatly inspired by Shakespeare. The numerous Bollywood movie adaptations of Shakespeare plays only intensify this fact. From Romeo and Juliet, to Hamlet- almost all of Shakespeare’s most popular plays have acquired a Bollywood movie adaption. Some Shakespeare plays even have regional movie adaptations. For example,

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2.) If you are an ardent fan of Shakespeare, or have even been forced to sit through those English classes in High School, studying scenes from ‘As You like It’ or ‘Macbeth’- you will remember that Shakespeare loved switching languages. Almost all his plays have a wide mixture of languages from French and Latin to English and Italian. Just like Shakespeare, Bollywood too, loves mixing languages. Here are some lyrics from ‘Jhalla Wallah’ that show how Bollywood also incorporates a large variety of languages-

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3.) One of the many appeals of Bollywood lies in its song and dance sequences. It is not a very well known fact but Shakespeare was also a firm believer of short musical suspensions in his plays. In Much Ado about Nothing, there is a very famous song sung by the sweet sounding Balthasar called ‘Hey Nonny’, a verse from it goes something like this-
“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey, nonny nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no mo
Of dumps so dull and heavy.
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so, but let them go
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey, nonny nonny.”

4.) Shakespeare loved all aspects of theatre and one of them was obviously the bright and colourful costumes, can we think of anyone else who loves the costume design as much as Shakespeare did? Bollywood of course!

bollywood dance

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5.) We must not forget to mention the exaggerated situations in most Bollywood movies. Remember when Macbeth stabs Duncan in his sleep, despite his doubts and a number of supernatural portents, including a vision of a bloody dagger? And, when Duncan’s death is discovered the next morning, Macbeth kills the chamberlains—out of false rage at their crime—and easily assumes the kingship. Well, this is no less melodramatic than our famous sequences from ‘Karan –Arjun’ , ‘DDLJ’ and the likes.

 

 

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6.) One of Shakespeare’s favourite characters in all his plays was the ‘Fool’ or the ‘Court Jester’, be it Touchstone in ‘As You like It’ or Feste in ‘Twelfth Night’ – the Fool’s presence was always felt. In Bollywood, there is always one character who greatly wears the ‘Fool-like’ persona of Shakespeare’s beloved Jesters. Famous actors like Johnny Lever and Shakti Kapoor have played this part in numerous movies. Ever thought of this before?

johnny lever

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7.) A few people are well aware of the customs of the Shakespearean Era-women were not supposed to take up acting professions and female characters in plays would be acted out by men. Because Shakespeare loved the concept of disguises, he would often make his female characters disguise themselves as men (for example, Rosalind and Celia in As You like It). The catch is that this would end up in men playing women who were disguised as men!
Does Bollywood love disguises too? You bet!

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8.) Vendetta was the way (and is still the way in many Bollywood movies). The concept of Revenge was much explored by Shakespeare, in fact, it was so well explored that almost every single play of his had something to do with the topic.
Think- Macbeth, Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, and even Antonio and Cleopatra!
Does Sholay or Zanjeer ring any bells?

sholay

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