William Shakespeare was an excellent English poet and writer, judging from his great poetry pieces. He was also a remarkable, world-renowned playwright and actor as well. He wrote inspiring plays during his time (1500-1600s) that are still read worldwide and infused in academic curriculum in learning institutions in the teaching of poetry and oral literature. Examples of these works include; Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. In a society like the present one, the English language tends to be cut shorter and shorter for easier and faster understanding. Students that grow up in this culture may not necessarily find Shakespeare’s works of art appealing but rather long and stale to read. More teenagers have been observed to pay better attention to visual aids rather than long pieces of literature written in complicated old fashioned English. Students have long described their experiences reading Shakespeare as long and tedious but only due to their lack of interest and comprehension of the content. For this reason, several movies and stage plays have been adapted from Shakespeare’s different written plays in a bid to bring the works to life and capture the students’ attention. Adaptations are aimed at easing an audience’s understanding of the plot of the play as well as making the plays more enjoyable to the viewers. An example of Macbeth’s adaptation is the film Maqbool. Maqbool’s plot and themes that were featured are a replica of the original Macbeth. The essay is aimed at analyzing the significance of the themes in both works and identifying an original argument that can be derived from the works.
Contextual Comparison of Macbeth and Maqbool
Macbeth is an upright Scottish leader (a general) dedicated in his service of the royal throne. He is naturally inclined to preservation rather the destruction of life as is his duty as a soldier. However, Macbeth desires more than just the position of general. Blinded by his unbridled ambition, Macbeth resorts to succumbing to his evil desires by killing King Duncan and every other character he considered a threat to his ascension to royalty; Banquo and Macduff’s wife and children.
Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is a strong willed lady considered even more than her husband, Macbeth. She desires nothing but to see her husband rise to the position of King. For this reason, she would stop at nothing to ensure her desired plans are realized. Lady Macbeth was responsible for persuading her Macbeth to accomplish the murder of King Duncan. Her unwavering determination even with Macbeth’s hesitation to commit cold-blooded murder led to Macbeth’s submission. However, Lady Macbeth’s ambitious nature seems to dwindle after Macbeth’s ascension to the royal throne. She is perturbed by her husband’s string of murders afterward.
Maqbool, however, is an Indian crime/drama film based on Mumbai’s world of organized crime. The movie features the boss of the underworld, Jahangir Khan, and his right-hand man Maqbool. Maqbool happens to fall in love with the boss’ mistress, Nimmi, who persuades him to revolt against Jahangir and take control of his empire. Nimmi encourages Maqbool to be ambitious, and he does so eliminate all possible competition. Ultimately, Maqbool succeeds in overthrowing Jahangir by killing him in his sleep. However, Maqbool and Nimmi live dreadful lives tormented by the ghosts of those they murdered.
Maqbool’s plot is quite similar to that of Macbeth though several components have been altered such as the cultural setting. Macbeth is set in Scotland while Maqbool is based in Mumbai, India. For this reason, the characters had to be altered, and plot twisted to match the cultural surrounding. In Macbeth, the price was the king’s power while in Maqbool; the price being fought for was the love for a woman and subsequently the power over the criminal underworld.
Similarly, Nimmi also manipulates Maqbool into fulfilling her wishes as Lady Macbeth did Macbeth. However, instead of exercising authority, she infuses Maqbool’s mind with ambitious ideas. Nimmi eventually gives Maqbool the ultimatum of killing either her or the boss. Maqbool’s love for Nimmi pushes him to execute the crime boss instead.
The content changes whereby unlike in Macbeth; Maqbool initially has no earnest desires to overthrow the criminal boss and take over the criminal underworld. It is when he falls in love with the criminal boss’ mistress that he is manipulated into desiring more. Maqbool wishes to take over the criminal empire so as to satisfy Nimmi. In this film, Maqbool’s ambition is motivated by his love for a woman as opposed to Macbeth’s natural ambitiousness.
The film also differs from the play where unlike Lady Macbeth, Nimmi bears a child under unclear circumstances of whose child it is (Jahangir/ Maqbool). In Macbeth, the Lady Macbeth does not bear any children. In Macbeth, the Lady Macbeth ultimately commits suicide while in Maqbool; Nimmi dies in Maqbool’s arms.
Common themes in Macbeth and Maqbool
Several themes are also addressed in both Macbeth as well Maqbool; ambition, power, violence, the conflict between fate and free will, guilt, and gender. However, one theme seems to stand out in both Macbeth and the movie Maqbool; power. Power, in this case, is the authority or capacity to act in a particular way, carry out particular activities and direct people to behave a particular manner. In both of the works, the main characters Macbeth and Maqbool’s thirst for power is apparent. Macbeth thirsts for royal power that comes with sitting upon the royal throne. He desires nothing more than to ascend to King as quick as possible. Maqbool yearns to take control of the criminal underworld empire to prove his worthiness to a woman. Though motivated by different reasons from each other, the two character’s ambition for power played a great role in instigating them to commit murder. Both characters’ ambition of power is so strong they are willing to kill whoever stands as an obstacle in their path. While Macbeth’s acts of murder derived from pure ambition and instigation from his equally ambitious wife, Maqbool acted by romance. His love for Nimmi (with whom Maqbool was forced to share with his boss) was his main driving force. Therefore, his grand plan was to murder Jangahir Khan the crime boss to win over Nimmi’s love and in the process take over Jangahir’s criminal empire as well (as a bonus). Nimmi’s shrewd manipulations played a great role in goading him to yearn for power.
In reference to Macbeth and Maqbool, one could argue that both the works show the vices (corruption and murder) that usually occur in corruptive administration systems (Macbeth’s and Maqbool’s reigns) providing moral awareness to the society (the audiences of the works).
In the play, Macbeth, the treacherous murders of King Duncan and his chamberlains, Banquo and Macduff’s wife and children is a clear display of the gruesome vices a corrupt leader (Macbeth) is capable of committing. Macbeth’s undying desire to sit upon the throne blinded him to reason. He was prepared to do whatever it took to be king. The following instances illustrate his fiendish intentions. Quoting him-
‘My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man. That function is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is but what is not. (Act 1 scene 3 line 52-55)
He declared that murder was no more than a duty he felt compelled to fulfill in order to realize his dream of being king.
‘If’t be so, For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind, For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered, Put rancors in the vessel of my peace
Only for them, and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man, To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings.Rather than so, come fate into the list, And champion me to th’ utterance!’ (Act 3 Scene 1 line 69-77)
The above quote depicts Macbeth’s call upon fate to infuse bitterness in his peace that he may not lax but fight against Banquo lest he lost his throne. Macbeth resorted to using his position as king to fight against all individuals he considered threats to his seat. Macbeth abused his power in summoning murderers to kill his friend (presumably a felony), Banquo, under the impression that Banquo may be a threat to his reign.
‘From this moment the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand. And even now, To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done: The castle of Macduff I will surprise, Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls That trace him in his line.’ (Act 4 Scene1 line 166-174)
In his blinding rage, Macbeth stated in the quote that from henceforth, he would act at his heart’s first desire. His heart’s desire was to get back at Macduff in the worst way possible. As a result, he ordered the killing of Macduff’s wife and all his children. Even his castle’s working staff was not spared.
Macbeth’s ruthlessness and corrupt ruling caused great worry amongst the people of Scotland due to the evil deeds he exerted on them. Quoting Macduff’s conversation with Malcolm, son of Duncan, when he visits him in Diaspora, Macduff expressed his concerns for the people of Scotland as well as the land itself under the tyranny of Macbeth:
MALCOLM: ‘Let us seek out some desolate shade and there Weep our sad bosoms empty.’
MACDUFF: ‘Let us rather Hold fast the mortal sword and, like good men, Bestride our downfall’n birthdom. Each new morn New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds As if it felt with Scotland, and yell’d outLike syllable of dolor. (Act 4 scene3;line1-9)
Malcolm welcomed Macduff inviting him to mourn his father’s death with him. However, Macduff did not wish to do so. He felt it urgent to report to Malcolm the evil tyranny of Macbeth. Every morning widows mourned and orphaned children cried as a result of Macbeth’s doing. Macduff felt the urgent need to attack and overthrow Macbeth in order to dethrone him and save Scotland of the grievance of a cruel and selfish king. For his plans to be realized, he needed Malcolm’s support in gathering an army to fight alongside him in battle.
According to Macduff, Scotland desperately needed a new king. A wise and just king that would rule in wisdom just like King Duncan did in his time. He believed Malcolm would adequately fill the large gap left behind by the death of his father.
Macbeth was a leader corrupted by his evil desires of un-ending power with his sights solely set on the ultimate prize; the royal throne. The play therefore adequately displays the effects of Macbeth’s tyranny and its costs to the overall community.
The Maqbool film similarly displays the corruptive way the character Maqbool attains power and the heinous acts that follow in his rule. By murdering Jangahir, Maqbool chose his sexual love (for Nimmi) over filial affection (from his don). Maqbool disregarded the filial affection between and his Abbaji (Jangahir Khan). The Abbaji was very fond of Maqbool. He was the one responsible for bringing up Maqbool into the man he was. He repeatedly treated him with kindness and tenderness as if Maqbool were his son. Maqbool had earned the Abbaji’s complete trust. However, the Abbaji was blinded by his utmost affection for Maqbool to the extent of not recognizing the love affair between him and his mistress. Maqbool was only to receive such affection from the Abbaji, and yet he betrayed and murdered him on the basis of love. The heinous act of murder is a clear desperation not only Nimmi’s part but on Maqbool’s part too. He was so eager for Nimmi’s approval that he was capable of murdering the father-figure in his life.
Maqbool also resorted to murdering Kaka, Abbaji’s loyal counterpart, who suspected that it was Maqbool who had killed Abbaji. Fearing that Abbaji would appoint Kaka’s son, Guddu, as his heir to criminal empire (due to his romantic relationship with Abbaji’s daughter) Maqbool made Guddu his sworn enemy. Maqbool needed to prove to Nimmi that he was not weak. He was corrupted by love and desperation, and it drove him into committing the treacherous murders.
Maqbool attempted to acquire power by betrayal and murder. As a result, the people of Mumbai suffered under increased violence, crime, and gore. However, he eventually lost it all: family, friends, colleagues and love. He no longer had his mentor, Abbaji. Due to the violence and mayhem, he caused he had no allies left. Even Nimmi had betrayed him by deceiving him into believing he was the father of her unborn baby. Nimmi eventually died and left him all alone to suffer the repercussions of their sinful deeds.
Maqbool is more than just a murder film; it is a representation of Shakespeare’s message to the society. The director of the film, Vishal Bharadwaj, presents the film in the great profundity of Shakespeare being careful to highlight the moral lessons reflected in his works.
The play, Macbeth is one amongst the many channels Shakespeare used to convey moral lessons and messages to his audience. Messages conveyed in Macbeth are immutable (ageless) and applicable even in current times. The essay outlines the contexts of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and its adaptation, Maqbool, for the reader’s better understanding. The thesis further explains the similarities and differences in the two works regarding context, plot structure, and themes featured. The thesis also sufficiently satisfies the argument stated by illustrating that William Shakespeare’s work purposes to clearly speak to the society (through his play) on the villainous misdeeds of corrupt individuals in leadership. The argument is replicated in Macbeth’s adaptation (Maqbool). Macbeth’s and Maqbool’s misdeeds are proven to be associated with their disregard for morality in their tyrannical rule. Other than displaying the vices carried out by the corruptive characters, the play also creates awareness on the repercussions of unchecked ambition, greed, and acts of injustice. Macbeth clearly highlights these moral lessons as outlined in the essay. This piece satisfies the close analysis of the said issues.