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Angoor to Haider: From the stage to the big screen


To commemorate World Theatre Day today (27 March), we shine the spotlight on 13 plays that were turned into films.

Sonal Pandya

1. Angoor (1982)

Before directing Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Varma in dual avatars in Angoor (1982), writer-director Gulzar adapted the same material from William Shakespeare's shortest play, The Comedy of Errors for the screenplay of Do Dooni Char (1968). Varma got the Best Performance in a Comic Role honours at the 30th Filmfare Awards; Sanjeev Kumar was also nominated for Best Actor but lost to Dilip Kumar for Shakti.

2. Mashaal (1984)

Based on the Marathi play, Ashroonchi Zhali Phule, by writer Vasant Kanetkar, Yash Chopra's Mashaal (1984) brought back Anil Kapoor and Dilip Kumar on the big screen after Shakti (1982). Kumar plays an honest man who is blinded by revenge after he exposes the corruption and crime in his newspaper. Anil Kapoor won his first Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dilip Kumar's young mentee, Raja.

3. Josh (2000)

Mansoor Khan's first feature without Aamir Khan was an adaptation of the hit musical West Side Story which in turn was inspired from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The film was set in Goa where two rival gangs, the Bichhoos and Eagles, ruled. With Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan playing twin siblings, Josh (2000) wasn't an outright success Shah Rukh's earlier films were and ended up becoming his last film as a director.

4. Agni Varsha (2002)

Girish Karnad's play The Fire and The Rain was based on Yavakri from The Mahabharata and brought to the big screen by theatre director Arjun Sajnani in 2002. With an all-star cast (actor Amitabh Bachchan played Lord Indra), the film features Jackie Shroff, Nagarjuna, Raveena Tandon, Prabhu Deva, Milind Soman and Sonali Kulkarni in key roles.

5. Aankhen (2002)

Filmmaker Vipul Amrutlal Shah adapted his own Gujarati play Andhalo Pato about a former disgruntled bank manager who plots to rob his own bank with the help of three blind men. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal and Paresh Rawal, Aankhen (2002) became a hit at the box office that year.

6. Baghban (2003)

Director Ravi Chopra's Baghban, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini as ageing parents, is an adaptation of the Gujarati play, Visamo, which itself was an adaptation of the Hollywood film, Make Way For Tomorrow (1937), directed by Leo McCarey. The emotional plotline struck a chord with audiences and became Ravi Chopra's most well-known feature.

7. Maqbool (2004)

Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj's second film, Maqbool (2004) cast Pankaj Kapur, Irrfan Khan and Tabu as Duncan, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, respectively. The critically-acclaimed adaptation was hailed by many; Variety, a Hollywood trade magazine called the modern Mumbai setting a 'clever idea'. Bhardwaj went to make two other films from William Shakespeare's play, thus completing his unofficial trilogy.

8. Waqt: The Race Against Time (2005)

Once again, director Vipul Amrutlal Shah converted a hit Gujarati play, Aavjo Vhala Fari Malishu, for the big screen with Waqt: The Race Against Time (2005). His Aankhen stars Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar played father and son in this sentimental tale of love, life lessons and responsibilities. Actors Shefali Shah and Priyanka Chopra were also part of the cast.

9. Omkara (2006)

After Macbeth, it was the turn of Shakespeare's Othello. Vishal Bhardwaj cast an eclectic group of actors for the film, from Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Vivek Oberoi to Konkona Sensharma as Othello, Desdemona, Iago, Cassio and Emilia. The film picked up three National Awards with a Special Jury recognition for Bhardwaj and Best Supporting Actress for Sensharma.

10. Golmaal: Fun Unlimited (2006)

Rohit Shetty's zany comedy Golmaal: Fun Unlimited actually had a storyline. It was based on the Marathi play Ghar Ghar, which was also adapted into Gujarati as Aflatoon. The film starring, Ajay Devgn, Arshad Warsi, Sharman Joshi, Tusshar Kapoor and Paresh Rawal, launched the Golmaal franchise, with two other sequels, Golmaal Returns (2008) and Golmaal 3 (2010), and another in the works, Golmaal Again, due to be released later this year.

11. The President is Coming (2009)

This early 2009 English release, directed by Kunal Roy Kapur, originally debuted as a play at Prithvi Theatre in 2002. Written by Anuvab Pal, the cast included Konkona Sensharma, Ira Dubey, along with original cast members, Anand Tewari and Namit Das. The satirical story followed former US President George W Bush's 2006 visit to India, introducing six potential candidates who would get a chance to meet him.

12. OMG: Oh My God! (2012)

The bestselling Gujarati play, Kanji Virudh Kanji became the super-hit feature film OMG: Oh My God! (2012) with actor Paresh Rawal as the lead, Kanji Lalji Mehta and producer Akshay Kumar as Lord Krishna, Lalji's guide and foil in his mission to bring God to court. Director Umesh Shukla, who also directed the play, was brought on board to helm the story for the big screen.

13. Haider (2014)

It took Vishal Bhardwaj eight years to return to the works of William Shakespeare for his next feature, Haider (2014). With Shahid Kapoor as the title character in an award-winning performance, Bhardwaj took Shakespeare's longest play, Hamlet, and set it in the troubled state of Kashmir. Actors Irrfan Khan and Tabu returned as pivotal characters in Haider's journey.