Why we need Shakespeare in our lives once again

Shivaji Dasgupta
New Update
william shakespeare

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Kolkata: To most Indians, regrettably, William Shakespeare is a distant literary figure who appears occasionally in school textbooks and cinematic references. To some Indians, thankfully, he is a master craftsman whose easy elegance is comparable only to the sincerity of intended emotion.

Just recently, I was an enchanted witness to the charmingly daring Keshav Roy's rendition of Shakespeare's works, a medley of great monologues and some fine contextual references. It conjured images of Shakespeare Wallah 2.0, the first naturally being the Merchant Ivory production in 1965 involving Shashi Kapoor and a whole host of Kendalls, not excluding Jennifer.

There are multiple ways to appreciate Shakespeare and a group tour package to Stratford On Avon is perhaps the most insignificant. His works are obviously fine specimens of English writing and universal sentiments, and the twain has most rarely met. It appears like a nonchalant parallel narration of history as we know it and society as we imagine it, splendid social commentary much before spectacular composition.

Amongst his most valuable influences is the aspect of virality, his tales and indeed, phrases, creeping in unnoticed to popular culture. As an aid to daily conversations, routine presentations or indeed tribute or missiles - the repertoire is an encyclopedia of possibilities. Exactly why its influence extends beyond centuries of evolution and learning - he was a Nostradamus as much as a writer, such is the irrefutable impact of his creative vision.

But my thought of the day extends beyond the classical domain of aesthetes and their peers - instead, it must dwell on the future generations, engrossed by a compelling metaverse, for better or worse. Keshav Roy's explorations in 'packaging' the essence of Shakespeare, pardon the marketing terminology, is inspirational in a fundamental sense. For it is sensitive to the new age audiences wishing to consume content in nuggets like mini Toblerones and not the giant bars of yore. The digital age offers possibilities beyond compare in this matter.

Quite like classical music as a parallel, the happy road to adoption is actually miniaturization, as mastered by the Japanese in terms of gadgetry. Wherein elements of Shakespeare's works, like monologues for instance, are available to recipients in consumable formats, immune to the constraints of origin orthodoxy. Possibly as template responses to worldly occasions, whether merry or fury. This is the kind of customer sensitivity that I am seeking in these matters, as Shakespeare must be deemed answerable to today's challenges, which he unquestionably is.

On a heady plane, theatrical exploits must resonate with this sentiment, as there can be contests amongst worthies which focus on immaculate yet innovative renditions of his finest creations. This can lead to the annual Bard Awards, wherein the sweetest interpreters can become role models for others. Even routine societal messaging, like Valentine's Day or even mourning, can have a Shakespeare filter, with authentic renditions of his suitable creations.

The marketing potential of this genius has barely scratched the surface as we are still enamoured by absolute classicism or may I say classism sentiments - the craft needs a T20 rendition that is true to genuineness while being ruthless to prejudice. We need to encourage youngsters to enjoy the genius in digestible snippets and accumulate the essence while not awaiting the onset of board exams and thus the compulsory syllabus-enforced acceptance is not kosher under any new age circumstances.

To add to the recipe, Shakespeare for the most part is prejudice-agnostic and even Shylock gets a pole position in the scheme of narration. This makes him rather appropriate for the India of the present day as we constantly seek a convergence of unifying human emotions, oblivious to pettiness in any form. He can also be translated but I would recommend that in terms of storyline and not dialogues, quite like Maqbool and Haider.

April, which just turned the corner, is an important month for Shakespeare as he was baptized on the 26th and succumbed to the ages on the 23rd. Thus, a rather excellent time to recognize his much-deserved longevity, potentially timeless way above every peer, given the unconditional permanence of his glorious expressions. Keshav Roy's priceless interpretation reinforced this conviction and for that, there must be due gratitude.

Often considered to be a point of entry, the inevitable inclusion of his works in the school syllabus may actually be an unsettling barrier as we are forced to analyze what we must intuitively imbibe. In the process, forge our very own interpretations of slices of civilization, the decibels of glory or gore frankly nobody else's business. On this note I must rest my sincere case - Shakespeare must arrive as a labour of love and not due to the love of labour.