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I haven’t seen Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara or Maqbool: Veeram filmmaker Jayaraj

The Veeram Macbeth director, who is inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedies just like Bhardwaj, says he hasn’t seen the latter's films for a reason. He was speaking at IFFI in Goa.

Suparna Thombare

Filmmaker Jayaraj’s ambitious historical epic Veeram Macbeth, due to release in theatres on 12 December, will be showing at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa tomorrow.

The film is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth and has been shot simultaneously in three languages – Malayalam, Hindi and English. His film, at Rs35 crore the most expensive film made in Malayalam till now, stars Kunal Kapoor, Shivajith Nambiar and Himarsha Venkatsamy.

On the eve of Veeram's festival screening, Jayaraj spoke about making the film with the aim of pleasing both festival audiences and mainstream viewers.

“With all my films I have tried that. In the case of Veeram also, I have made the film with the intention of being extremely experimental. A lot of great filmmakers have made Macbeth — from Roman Polanski to Akira Kurosawa — so it was a challenge for me. I made it for the festival circuit in that sense, but also for release in the commercial mainstream market. That a film is presentable in the festival circuit and at the box office is what I want to achieve,” said the director who also made a version of Shakespeare’s Othello in 1997 called Kaliyattam.

Another filmmaker in India who is inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedies is Vishal Bhardwaj. He has made Maqbool (2003) on Macbeth, Omkara (2006) on Othello, and Haider (2014) on Hamlet. But Jayaraj says he has only heard about the films. 

“I haven’t seen the films. I am not even curious. In fact, Vishal saw my film on Omkara [Kaliyattam] before he made Omkara,” said Jayaraj. Explaining his reasons for not watching Bhardwaj's films, he said, "I purposely didn’t see his films because we should not infer or create a bias in our minds when we are making films on the same subject.”

Asked if he thought his film on Othello inspired Bhardwaj to make his version, Jayaraj said, “I don’t know. But at that time I think he already had the desire to make films on Shakespeare’s works.”