From Avon to Delhi

Aneet Kanwal Randhawa

WHAT prompted me to write this piece was a news item that concluded that Shakespeare is understood ‘better’ and is more popular in developing countries, particularly India. I am no authority on the Bard of Avon and have not studied him beyond my high school. But still, I consider myself his fan.

Our political jamboree is one of its kind in the world. Nothing embellishes it more than the fine art of oratory. How can we forget ‘the ears we lent’ to a single individual heavy on rhetoric two years back and made the ‘honorable men’ of the oldest political party bite dust. Now we have a rookie party riding high in our native state, partly due to anti-incumbency, and a witty and sarcasm-laid rhetoric of an individual, whom we are ‘lending enough ears’, representing the party. In due course, it will come to light how many ‘honorable men’ of our native state will fall prey to the multi-pronged tool of oratory.

Polity in our country is driven by lust for power. Intrigues, deceit, opportunism, etc. are the norm. Most of the times it is ‘Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms’ that is the actual slayer.

Recently, there were controversies regarding ‘name’ and trivial sloganeering. My fellow countrymen need to understand the Bard even ‘better’. Remember, how he had remarked, “What’s in a name?”

The other jamboree of our nation, Bollywood, has always been smitten with the Shakespearean charm. Romeo and Juliet has had numerous adaptations, the most recent being Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela. Thespian Gulzar made Angoor, an adaptation of A Comedy of Errors. The most recent fascination is of Vishal Bharadwaj who has made adaptations of Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth.

The West has always looked up to us for spiritual succor. We may often fail to tread the path of our spiritual masters, but that in no way has diminished their stature. Our gurus, bhagats, sufis, etc. have time and again preached the futility of this existence. In our hearts we know how vulnerable we are to death. Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir talks of it when he says, “Hasti apni ik hubaab ki si hai”. In a similar vein, Shakespeare remarks: “As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods./They kill us for their sport.”

There are numerous other instances when the Bard’s thoughts converge with our spiritual masters. As a father will tell his offspring ‘to thine own self be true’, as long as there are intrigues and deceptions in our polity, as long as Bollywood remains smitten with his charm, and as long as we are able to spot the convergence of his thoughts with that of our spiritual masters, his popularity will continue to soar in our nation. That may be wishful thinking, as we witness a steady rise in the tribe of ‘fundoos’ who may view Shakespeare through the lens of an East-West divide.

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One Response to From Avon to Delhi

  1. admin says:

    Khushboo Khanum – Hasti Apni Hubab ki si hai

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