O for Omkara(2006), the (Hindi) Bollywood adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Othello,The Moor of Venice”. Directed by Vishal Bharadwaj (successfully adapted Macbeth and Hamlet to screen), the film boasts lucrative starcast(s). The dusky Ajay Devgan plays Omkara(read Othello), Kareena Kapoor Khan as Desdemona(Dolly Mishra) and Saif Ali Khan essays the true devil Iago…here seen as Langa Tyagi. If you have followed the First Folio, then you will remember the drama mainly revolves around these characters only. Konkona Sen Sharma and Vivek Obreoi portray the role of Emilie and Cassio over here.With a talented director like Bharadwaj and the tailormade roles,each of the characters came up with authentic performances.
But the man who have been in the limelight since the first production of the play…is Iago and while essaying Langda Tyagi..Saif Ali Khan mutes his critics…and delivers a performance of the year. Saif Ali Khan had been through the original text. He understood the motiveless intrigue of Iago..and reflected all of them into the character. Inspite of being an antagonist..he is the stellar screen stealer. An adaptation is a big time affair,transcreating an Elizabethan play into a modern day North Indian tale of politics..power and most importantly a saga of revenge..is not an easy task…for the critics are there to cry out loud.But Vishal Bharadwaj not only gives the play a flavour of Uttar Pradesh politics…also moulds the Venetian powerplay and racism into an Indian socio cultural mould.Cinematic liberty have been used in a refined way. Konkona Sen Sharma as Emilie outshines the original Emilie of Shakespeare,when she decides to take the matter into her own hand. Cassio who had been the scapegoat in the play…Vivek Obreoi receives the same treatment over here…neither more…nor less.Oh yes..Iago sometimes winks…Langda never winked at us.. 😦 I missed the racial tone like
“Every now..now very now..an Old Black ram is tuping with your white ewe”… (Othello Act1.Scene1)
But yes some rustic tunes like Namak Ishq ka..and the deja vu..Biri Jalaile.(Bipasha Basu as Bianca rocked it)..adds up to the film.One of the most successful Shakespearen adaptation inBollywood.. Image from Indiaglitz