Appropriating Shakespearean Romance in Indian Cinema

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Shakespeare Association of America 2021 Conference

Call for papers for seminar:

Seminar no. 1 “Appropriating Shakespearean Romance in Indian Cinema”, Annual Shakespeare Association of America Conference 2021 in Austin, Texas, USA (31 March to 3 April 2021)

Co-leaders: Thea Buckley (Queen’s University Belfast) and Rosa García-Periago (University of Murcia)

Seminar keywords: regional, local, indigenous, Shakespeare, cinema, film, appropriation, caste, race, India, appropriation, romance

This seminar invites papers that examine the manifold representations of Shakespearean love in Indian film and/or TV adaptation, whether in Bollywood, regional, parallel and/or diaspora cinemas. Shakespeare remains a popular source for Indian cinema; Bollywood produces an endless stream of Romeo and Juliet adaptations. Bhansali’s 2013 Ram-Leela [Romeo and Juliet] contentiously aligns the lovers with epic Hindu gods Ram and Sita; Aparna Sen’s Arshinagar (2015) features a Hindu-Muslim romance. Their love story is of ongoing interest in a country where patriarchally arranged marriage is still the norm, and where caste or religious differences remain obstacles to lovers’ unions.

Yet India’s love affair with Shakespeare and love goes beyond Bollywood’s Romeos and Juliets. In Kishore Sahu’s 1954 Olivier-inspired Hamlet, Ophelia’s “snatches of old tunes” (4.7.176) became a full-fledged Hindi love song. Jayaraj’s Veeram (2016) and Bhardwaj’s Maqbool (2013) both feature Macbeth in a love triangle. Regional rom-coms like the 1989 blockbuster Nanjundi Kalyana [The Taming of the Shrew] remain underrepresented in scholarship on Shakespeare and India, despite Poonam Trivedi and Paromita Chakravarti’s recent intervention Shakespeare and Indian Cinemas (2019). 

In examining Indian cinematic adaptations that highlight Shakespearean love in its infinite variety, the seminar welcomes a variety of approaches: textual, television, film history, gender or cultural studies, etc. ​We particularly welcome papers that develop local interventions and examine how local cultures affect the global understanding and representation of Shakespearean love.

-- In what ways is Shakespearean love depicted differently on the Indian screen from Anglocentric romance?

-- Is it presented following similar patterns in Indian adaptations of tragedies, romances, etc.?

-- To what extent is it changed on the Indian screen?

-- How are Shakespearean women modified/expanded on the screen and how do these alterations affect their love lives?

Ultimately, the seminar aims to decenter the current shorthand of Shakespearean love as Anglocentric romance, by presenting alternative perspectives from the Global South.

Papers in English language (or along with your own translation), addressing these and similar questions would be most welcome, from scholars working at any level across the world.


For SAA seminars, papers are circulated in advance, and participants send brief critical responses to these papers in advance as well. Typically, the 2-hour seminar consists of conversation among participants and then a Q&A session with the session auditors.

Reading and Preparation

Although no prior preparation is necessary—we will circulate the seminar plan, schedule and suggested readings in Fall 2020—as part of the Indian Shakespeares project we have begun compiling an open source bibliography, and we welcome suggestions for it across languages. Please write to indianshakespeares [at] gmail [dot] com with input.

About the Seminar Leaders

Dr. Thea Buckley grew up in Texas and Kerala and was educated at the universities of Madras, Surrey, and Birmingham (Shakespeare Institute). She is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, mentored by Professor Mark Thornton Burnett. Her research project “South Indian Shakespeares: Reimagining Art Forms and Identities” examines local Shakespeare productions across boundaries of language, caste, media, and place in South India. Thea has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Institute and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and has published work in Reviewing Shakespeare, Cahiers Elisabethains, Theatre Notebook, A Year of Shakespeare (2013), Multicultural Shakespeare (2014), and Shakespeare and Indian Cinemas (2019) among others. She has participated regularly in SAA since 2012.

Dr. Rosa García-Periago is a Lecturer at the University of Murcia (Spain). She is on leave until September 2020 as Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast with a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship awarded by the EU (Shakespeare and Indian Cinematic Traditions, mentored by Prof. Mark Thornton Burnett). She is co-editor of Jane Austen and William Shakespeare: A Love Affair in Literature, Film and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). She has published extensively on Indian Shakespeares and her publications have appeared in Shakespeare, Borrowers and Lenders, Atlantis and SEDERI Yearbook, among others. She co-chaired the Women and Indian Shakespeares conference with Thea Buckley in 2019. This is her second time at SAA.

Access and Inclusion

For the 2021 meeting the Shakespeare Association of America has relaxed its rules on in-person participation. So participants registered for the 2021 SAA conference can join this seminar wherever you may be through a suitable internet connection. Please let us know if you are interested in enrolling for or auditing this seminar and have specific access needs. Please also let us if you are uncertain of being able to travel to Austin to participate in person in March-April 2021. We welcome all registered participants.

The SAA currently only provides ASL interpretation or CART (Communication Access Realtime Transcription) if we specifically request these. If you would like to audit or participate in our seminar and need these services, please let us know.

Registration for this seminar is through the SAA website (; SAA membership is required ( is income-linked and includes a free option for qualifying registrants.

Conference registration incurs separate fees ( For student resources including travel grants, please see here

If you are eager to join this seminar but under financial constraints—for pandemic-related or other reasons—please let us know.

Note: SAA treats seminar registration as first come first serve. Once a seminar is filled, subsequent registrants will be directed towards their next selected option. If this is your seminar of choice, please indicate this by naming it as your first option.