Special Issue of Shakespeare journal: Adapting Shakespearean Romance in Indian Cinema

deadline for submissions: 
September 25, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Subhankar Bhattacharya (Cambridge), Thea Buckley (Queen's U Belfast) and Rosa García-Periago (U Murcia)

A Special Issue of Shakespeare:

Adapting Shakespearean Romance in Indian Cinema

Edited by Subhankar Bhattacharya, Thea Buckley, and Rosa García-Periago

Shakespeare remains a popular source for Indian cinema. Both regional cinemas and Bollywood produce an endless stream of Romeo and Juliet adaptations. Bhansali’s 2013 Ram-Leela [Romeo and Juliet] contentiously aligns its very human lovers with Ram and Sita, Hindu divinities; Aparna Sen’s Arshinagar (2015) features a Hindu-Muslim romance. These love stories are often set in societies where differences of caste or religion remain obstacles to lovers’ unions and the ‘love marriage’ threatens an entrenched patriarchal system of familial arrangement.

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

This issue invites papers that examine the manifold representations of Shakespearean love affairs onscreen, in Indian filmic and/or television adaptation, whether in Bollywood, regional, parallel and/or diaspora cinemas. We welcome 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 amour. Proposed papers might address these or other relevant questions:

-- What constitutes Shakespearean romance; what tropes would we expect to see in an adaptation?

-- In what way/s is Shakespearean romance depicted on the Indian screen and how do these relate to or adapt Anglocentric romance?

-- Is the topic presented following similar patterns in Indian adaptations of Shakespearean tragedies, comedies, romances, etc.?

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

-- To what extent is the topic changed for the Indian screen? Seventy-five years after Independence, how does postcolonialism intersect with the topic?

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. We welcome submissions especially from disabled, LGBTQ+ scholars, scholars of colour, and early career researchers and are happy to clarify information or discuss ideas with potential contributors.


We invite abstracts of 400-500 words in length, accompanied by a title and a short bio of 150-250 words. Submissions should be mailed to indianshakespeares@gmail.com by 25 September 2022. Final submissions of roughly 7,000 words (including notes) are expected by 1 March 2023. Please note that all paper submissions will undergo anonymous double peer-review in keeping with the journal's practices.