SAUDAGAR, the Indian version of Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare comes to India Saudagar, the Indian version of Merchant of Venice staged to wide acclaim.

July 07, 2014 9:52 IST | India Infoline News Service
Across the world, William Shakespeare is a name that commands a huge following among literature lovers. India is no different. So, when one of Shakespeares most loved plays made an Indian outing, in an Indian avatar, the audience loved every bit of it.

Titled Saudagar, the Indian adaptation of Merchant of Venice was staged at Gurgaons Epicentre this evening, to wide acclaim. A presentation of The Films & Theatre Society, the play was adapted and directed by Atul Satya Koushik.

The merchant who signed a bond for his dear friend; the moneylender who demanded his pound of flesh; and the remarkable and intelligent heiress who turned the tables to save her lovers friend! The gracious Antonia, the beautiful and intelligent Portia, the devoted Bassanio and the wronged Shylock were presented in Indian avatras but retained the quintessential Shakespearean taste.

Based in the Mewar District of Rajasthan and set in the end of 19th century, the adaptation is peculiar for recreating the true Shakespearian moods on stage but with jokes and dialogues that will have a Rajasthani flourish.

A merchant lends a sum of Rs 30,000 to his friend in order to assist him in his effort to woo the wealthy and beautiful princess of Pratapgarh, a princely state in British India. However, with the merchants own money tied up in a risky venture, he has to borrow from a moneylender whom he has previously insulted for his act of charging high rates of interest and for his religious beliefs. The moneylender does lend the money, but against a bond whereby a failure to repay the loan on the agreed date will entitle him to a pound of the Merchant's flesh.

How successfully the merchants friend woos the heiress and what happens when the merchant fails to repay the sum on the agreed date is the plays theme.
We are very happy by the response generated by our effort. By the feedbacks we assume, the play made an impact, which is a relief as adapting a William Shakespeare play is not easy at all. Every word written by him is a responsibility on you as it demands justice. If he chose to write a word, there has to be a reason behind it. In this adaptation, my constant endeavor was to keep the Shakespeare alive in every word that I write, every song that I play, and every emotion that I arise in my audience, says Koushik.

The play was garnished with light hearted jokes peculiar of Rajasthani life-style and hummable and rustic folk music along with a royal Rajputani feel to the entire grandeur.
The play also had a rich background score and a few Hindi songs which have been composed by Ravi Rao, the resident music director of the society. Costumes for the princess and women have been designed by famous celebrity designer Mumtaz Khan in Bhopal.

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