Monday, May 4, 2009

Bollywood Dagger Speech

Maqbool. Dir. Vishal Bharadwaj. Perf. Irfan Khan and Tabu. 2003. DVD. Music Today, 2004.

Recently, I posted an extract from Maqbool that was more of an example of the flavor of placing Macbeth in India. But I'm hoping to add to a consideration of different versions of "Is this a dagger which I see before me / The handle toward my hand?" (II.i.33ff) to Bardfilm's vast storehouse of knowledge in the next few days. And how could I leave out Maqbool's equivalent version?

The film doesn't have anything directly comparable to the dagger speech, but it does some extremely interesting things with the moments before the murder of Abba Ji (the Duncan analogue).

First, you should know that the Lady Macbeth analogue (Nimmi) is Abba Ji's mistress—though she loathes him and loves Maqbool (the Macbeth analogue).  Nimmi has convinced Maqbool to assassinate Abba Ji and seize his underworld holdings. Because she is his mistress, she's present during the murder—with the resultant splash of blood turning into the equivalent of Lady Macbeth's blood-stained hands.

In the clip below, Maqbool internalizes elements of the dagger speech as his imagination sees a pool of blood where there's only a pool of water.  Though he's assured that the blood has been removed (there had been a blood stain there before), he continues to see the blood. A series of flashback images follow as Maqbool contemplates what he intends to do.

Cinematographically, the most interesting thing is the use of lighting during the murder scene. Although they're not on a train, the lighting makes it look like they are speeding down the tracks in the middle of the night, their actions punctuated by occasional lights from platforms and stations that they pass by.

One quick word of caution:  the clip is filled with violent images.  Well, I expect that you would expect that from a derivative of Macbeth, but forewarned is forearmed.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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