Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Maqbool: Contexts, Subtexts and Intertexts (Julia and Bianca)

  • A new generation of brash, ruthless gangsters took over the Indian underworld in the 1990s. During this time period, there were many gang wars amongst gangs wrestling for control of Mumbai. Between 1995 and 1998, incidents of gang-related violence rose four-fold. More recently, there has been a tentative decrease in underworld violence (Thomas).
  • Maqbool is set in the context of the Indian criminal underworld. It is a commentary on the circulation of power and tensions in the underworld society of Mumbai. In this adaptation, Mumbai is representative of Scotland and drug kings have replaced actual royalty (Wang).
  • Maqbool had its North American premiere at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival (“Maqbool.”).
  • Vishal Bhardwaj was a musician and soundtrack composer for Indian films before becoming a director. His passion for music is reflected in the importance of the musical numbers in the film (Sen, Suddhaseel).

  • Indian Cinema
    • Maqbool engages directly with Indian film, providing a commentary on the cinematic industry in Mumbai (Burnett).
      • “At the start, for example, the two police inspectors in the underworld’s employ...draw kundali (Horoscopes) on a car windscreen: the lines traced evoke a filmic frame, while the misted glass hints at a camera’s lens…” (Burnett, p.61-62).
      • “Gesturing to [a] historical association with the Mumbai underworld, the episode imagines the film industry as a form of power, an empire within an empire that dominates individual lives and fortunes” (Burnett, p.62).
    • Bollywood
      • Bhardwaj uses several traditional Bollywood aspects in Maqbool, including scenes of feasting, weddings, dancing, and music. Bhardwaj was also a composer of Bollywood movie scores, drawing importance to the music in the film. Furthermore, the song and dance that Nimmi performs before the drunken men is stereotypical of Bollywood movies (Sen, Suddhaseel).
      • “An early sequence centres on a visit to a dargah (the shrine of a sufi or saint) and gains energy from its manipulation of the Bollywood convention of the pilgrimage. Bhardwaj’s recreation of the dargah - qawwals (singers) clap to the qawwali (song) and address the godhead - is designed to play up the traditional features of a mystical route to divine union” (Burnett, p.65).
  • Jahangir Khan
    • Abbaji's other name is Jahangir Khan, a name referring to an emperor of the seventeenth-century Mughal empire.
    • “...Jahngir was one of the rulers of the Mughal empire, governing between 1605 and 1627, in a period made infamous by the attempts of his sons to secure his overthrow…” (Burnett, p.61).
  • Dharma and Prophecies
    • Dharma, or “‘deep patterns in the nature of things’” (Burnett, p.65), is illustrated through the predictions of the police inspectors in Maqbool. These predictions are obviously references to the witches’ prophecies in Macbeth. An example of this kind of prediction made by the investigators is when the inspectors predict that Maqbool will not be vanquished until the sea comes to Maqbool’s house (Burnett).
  • The two corrupt policemen, Purohit and Pandit
    • They are the equivalent of the weird sisters and predict Maqbool’s rise to power by means of horoscopes. (Sen, Suddhaseel)
    • The names of the corrupt policemen, Purohit and Pandit, translate to “priest” and “wise man,” and the pair use the contrasts (fire and water analogy, religious horoscopes and gang violence, etc) as a means of keeping a cosmic balance. (Sen, Amrita)
  • Food
    • “When Abbaji/Duncan visits Maqbool/Macbeth, he is greeted by the sight of his gangland accomplice attending to huge vats of welcoming biriyani on an upper terrace. At once, of course, the episode instances the opening of Macbeth and posits a connection between Maqbool’s cookery and the witches’ cauldrons; however, because this takes place at the moment when the filmic protagonist contemplates his master’s demise, the related suggestion is that the spectacle of hospitality is part of a duplicitous performance” (Burnett, p.60-61).
  • The Godfather
    • Vishal Bhardwaj reflected on the influence of The Godfather on Maqbool: “Any film that deals with criminal mafia...has to refer to The Godfather in some way. (Alter, p.15)
    • Abbaji, the nickname for the mafia boss, Jahangir Khan, translates to “godfather” (Hatchuel).
    • “Abbaji/Duncan in Maqbool and Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) in The Godfather resemble each other in both manner and situation. In particular, the ‘movement’ of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) from ‘simple filial duty towards the...killer of foe and family’ encapsulates a crisis of loyalty…”(Burnett, p.61) that is reminiscent of the transformation of Maqbool.
  • Bhardwaj winks at Oliver Parker’s 1995 movie of Othello when Maqbool imagines Nimmi and Abbaji having intercourse in the next room (Hatchuel).
  • Pulp Fiction
    • “As Vincent Vega (John Travolta) in Pulp Fiction (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 1994) is tempted to sleep with Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), his boss’s wife, so does Maqbool/Macbeth desire Abbaji/Duncan’s mistress, Nimmi/Lady Macbeth” (Burnett, p.61).

Works Cited
Alter, Stephen. Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief: Inside the World of Indian Moviemaking. Orlando: Harcourt, 2007. Print.
Burnett, Mark Thornton. Shakespeare and World Cinema. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013. Books.google.com. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <Burnett, Mark Thornton. Shakespeare and World Cinema. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013. Books.google.com. Web.>.
Hatchuel, Sarah. Shakespeare on Screen "Macbeth. Mont-Saint-Aignan: Presses Universitaires De Rouen Et Du Havre, 2013. Web.
"Maqbool." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Oct. 2014. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maqbool>.
Sen, Amrita. "Maqbool and Bollywood Conventions." In Asian Shakespeares on Screen: Two Films in Perspective. Special issue, edited by Alexander C. Y. Huang. Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 4.2 (Spring/Summer 2009). Available online: http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/.
Sen, Suddhaseel. "Indigenizing Macbeth: Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool." In Asian Shakespeares on Screen: Two Films in Perspective. Special issue, edited by Alexander C. Y. Huang.Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation 4.2 (Spring/Summer 2009). Available online: http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/
Thomas, Presley. "How Mumbai Underworld Became India's Most Dreaded Mafia." Http://www.hindustantimes.com/. Hindustan Times, 23 Feb. 2014. Web. 28 Oct. 2014. <http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/underworld-evolution-gunrunning-to-realty/article1-1187259.aspx>.
Wang, I-Chun. "Intermedial Representations in Asian Macbeth-s." CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 13.3 (2011): <http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1481-4374.1801>

1 comment:

  1. Thank you guys for the well-researched CSI presentation. For those contemplating a Bhardwaj term paper, here's one more source, not uniformly excellent but in places informative: books.google.com/books?id=JdNCBAAAQBAJ
    Also some background on earlier Indian Shakespeare tradition(s) here: http://books.google.com/books/about/India_s_Shakespeare.html?id=otdlAAAAMAAJ