Did You Know: Shakespeare's Hamlet Was Made In Bollywood Before Haider?

Shreemi Verma , 21 Apr 2016
Mala Sinha
Mala Sinha

Shakespeare‘s works has been adapted in Bollywood multiple times. From Gulzar‘s Angoor which was a hilarious remake of The Comedy of Errors to the well known Vishal Bharadwaj trilogy consisting of Maqbool, Omkara and Haider, the movies have always managed to garner a lot of attention. But did you know that there was a 1954 adaptation of Hamlet starring Mala Sinha (making her Bollywood debut) and Kishore Sahu? Yep, years before Shahid Kapoor and Tabu won our hearts with Haider, there was an adaptation of the tragic tale of the Prince of Denmark. Here are the details of the film according to the movie’s Wikipedia page –

There were several plot changes, with Ophelia telling her part in flashback and singing songs with friends, while the gravediggers were “used for comic effect”, thus giving in to Indian film-goers sensibilities. The film had its inspiration from the Parsi theatre days, with Sahu’s monologue inculcating couplets from famous Indian poets and using parts of dialogues from Ahsan’s Khoon-Nahak (1928). Ophelia sang Bahadur Shah Zafar’s “Na Kisi Ki Ankh Ka Noor Hoon”, and a dying Hamlet quoted Zauq’s “Layee Hayaat Aaye, Qaza Le Chali Chale”. The “Parsi theatre tradition”, which gave rise to several freely adapted Hindi films from Shakespeare, like Modi’s Khoon Ka Khoon (1935), Akhtar Hussain’s Romeo and Juliet (1947) and Cleopatra (1950), came to an end with Hamlet.

Here’s a song from the movie –

Cool eh?

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