Friday, 21 November 2014

Dr. Jonathan Gil Harris visits The Heritage School on the Occasion of Language Month


If Shakespeare were alive today and wrote for Bollywood, is this what he would look like?

When I was told by a colleague of mine that Dr. Jonathan Harris Gil, Professor of English and Dean of Academics, Ashoka University would be delivering a talk on Bollywood and Shakespeare, I was a little sceptical about how these two could ever be connected. But then, today, on the twenty-first of November,  in his talk addressed to students of grade ten and eleven he did in fact make a very clear connection between Bollywood and Shakespeare!

And who did you think is the greatest script writer of all?
The talk started with a few homilies and jokes about some of the Bollywood films that had crashed in the box office, and then Dr. Harris did speak a few words in fluent Hindi, much to the amazement of the gathered students. And indeed, the link between Bollywood and Shakespeare became clear after he listed a few titles of the latest box office hits like Omkara, and Haider!
Sharing a lighter moment with students of grade eleven and ten
Shakespeare according to him lends a veneer of legitimacy to a form of entertainment that borrows heavily from scripts found anywhere in the world. Shakespeare continues to be relevant today, see, Omkara and Haider are the Indian versions  two of Shakespeare’s plays, namely Hamlet and Othello? Shakespeare continues to be great art, because we encounter him in literature classes. It is therefore convenient to think of Shakespeare as Masala for the Masses!
Dr. Harris also talked to students of grade twelve about the importance of Liberal Arts.

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