Indian Theatre Journal (Vol.5)
Indian Othellos: Shakespeare Adaptations in India
Guest Editor: Dr Sreedevi K. Nair
Othello, one of the four major tragedies of Shakespeare, has particularly served as the inspiration for multifarious retellings, adaptations, films, theatre and dance performances in India. The universality of the basic emotion at work in this play, namely that of conjugal jealousy, has warranted special appeal and unquestioned acceptance to productions based on Othello. Besides, because Othello has been projectedthroughout the ages as a site of negotiation between the colonizer and the colonized, it has always retained contemporaneity in the postcolonial Indian context. Though it can’t be affirmed that Shakespeare meant the play to primarily deal with racial issues, adaptations of the play have constantly been steeped in racial as well as caste politics. This truly makes Othello, the sixteenth century play of Shakespeare, as contemporary as any of the present-day plays. This could well be the reason why Othello has been adapted, presented and re-presented on the Indian stage time and again. Saptapadi in Bengali directed by Ajoy Kar (1961), Kaliyattam in Malayalam directed by Jayaraj (1997) and Omkara in Hindi directed by Vishal Bhardwaj (2006),were mainstream cinemas inspired by Othello. Yamadoothu or After the Death of Othello, a play directed and staged by V. Abhimanyuin 2012 envisages the deaths of Shakespeare’s Othello, Desdemona and Iago, set within the context of fantasy. The conversation between the three characters in the play exposes different perspectives and insights into the lives they lived. As recently as in November 2019, The Stars still Shine on Desdemona, another adaptation of Othello was presented at the ‘Women and Indian Shakespeares Conference’ held at the Queen’s University, Belfast. In this adaptation of Othello,Desdemona doesn’t get killed on that fatal night. Such frequent presentations of the play amply testifies to the fact that Othello still agitates the Indian psyche.
The Indian Theatre Journal, the first international journal on performing arts in India, plans to bring out a special issue on the Indian adaptations of Shakespeare’s Othello in different media. Articles dealing with western adaptations of Othello are welcome if they bring into context Indian adaptations of the play. General articles on the theory of adaptation citing examples from reproductions of Othello, are also solicited. The following are some of the suggested topics:
- Theories of Shakespeare adaptation (with examples from Othello productions)
- The mapping of Othello adaptations in India
- Translations of Othello
- Post-colonialism and Othello
- Class and caste in adaptationsof Othello
- Intercultural Shakespeare
- Syncretism/Hybridity in Othello productions
- Othello kathaprasangam (story telling)
- Stage adaptations of Othello
- Films based on Othello: Kaliyattam, Omkara, Saptapadi
Please send proposals for articles, not more than 500 words in length, along with your CV to the Guest Editor of the issue Dr. Sreedevi K. Nair [email protected] by 15 March 2020. The final paper is expected to be received by 1 June 2020.