(Vaibhav Vats’s article appeared in The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2014.)
NEW DELHI — The Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj has made his name by adapting Shakespeare into film, using the plays to reflect the violence and vicissitudes of modern India. “Maqbool,” an adaptation of “Macbeth,” was set in the Mumbai underworld; “Omkara” transported “Othello” to the feudal badlands of northern India. His latest effort, a loose adaptation of “Hamlet” called “Haider,” which takes place in Kashmir during the turbulent 1990s, has become the most acclaimed and contentious Bollywood movie of the year.
The film, which opened internationally on Oct. 2, drew a fierce reaction on social media from Hindu nationalists, who called for a boycott. Kashmir, a disputed territory claimed by both India and Pakistan, remains a sensitive subject on the Indian subcontinent.