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Shakespeare and Indian Cinematic Traditions

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ShakespeareIndia (Shakespeare and Indian Cinematic Traditions)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2020-08-31

Working with expert in global Shakespeare, Professor Mark Thornton Burnett of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), experienced researcher, Dr Rosa García Periago (RGP), has undertaken a fellowship that has comprehensively examined for the first time the role of Shakespeare in Indian cinemas, with a focus on regionalism, diversity, locality and gender. The fellowship has directed attention to the variety of expressions of Shakespeare in different Indian film industries, languages and diasporic contexts, the majority of which have been critically neglected. Integrally important to the fellowship’s recovery mission was the centrality of women not only as subjects of representation but also as filmmakers and creative practitioners. The fellowship, then, has produced original research while generating local and international impact and supporting the career development and mobility of the experienced researcher.
The fellowship makes an original and timely contribution to critical debate in global Shakespeare studies, mainly regarding the particular utility of Shakespeare for addressing gendered preoccupations on the Indian screen. All these films make us think anew about Shakespeare.
Formal objectives of this Marie Skłodowska Curie Action (MSCA) have been to (a) To establish a database of the hundreds of Shakespeare films in India, including films that adapt major Shakespearean plays or substantially cite Shakespearean plays. The objective was to assemble a comprehensive and representative list of examples that reflects the depth and diversity of the place of Shakespeare in Indian cinematic traditions.; (b) To devise new methodologies and terminologies for the study of Shakespeare and Indian cinematic traditions which would encourage discussion of a fuller range of examples and explicit reflection on the place of region, diversity, locality and gender inside national engagements; (c) To identify the chief characteristics of Indian cinematic Shakespeares, not simply in ‘Bollywood’ but across the spectrum of Indian film industries; d) To produce academic outputs jointly reflective of shared research priorities: a journal article and a co-edited volume; e) To support involvement in film and intercultural theatre production practice that sits alongside the acquisition and demonstration of academic knowledge; f) To publically disseminate the fellowship findings: these would take the form of a public-facing workshop/film festival, three public- facing lectures and an exhibition at Belfast’s oldest public library, the Linen Hall; g) To launch a project website allowing for optimum accessibility and traffic.
Work was conducted via 4 work packages (WPs). WP1 (Management) sought to establish contact with Asian and Indian organizations; to ensure sound administrative and budgetary management; to deliver progress reports for the project, and to comply with financial reporting in a timely manner. All the deliverables were delivered in a timely manner. The main aim of WP2 was to expose the researcher to the non-academic sector. Two secondments took place, with Terra Nova Productions and esc films. Although not included in the MSCA application, these two secondments led to a performance review and a journal article. Besides, they have opened up new areas of research for the researcher and may even lead to new projects in which these companies will be involved in the near future. WP3 involved archival work to develop a database of the hundreds of Shakespeare films in India, including films that adapt major Shakespearean plays or substantially cite Shakespearean plays. In WP4, the Fellow exceeded goals significantly, since the list of items produced exceeds the stated expectations. The Fellow has launched the website, published two articles, and other two are under review, has written a chapter in a book (forthcoming), is co-editing a collection with the supervisor of the project (Prof. Mark Thornton Burnett), Dr. Thea Buckley and Sangeeta Datta (filmmaker), has co-chaired an International Conference on Women and Indian Shakespeares, has attended four conferences, has given a paper to the School research seminar, has given three public-engagement lectures and has co-curated an exhibition to date.

Results of this MSCA are reported in: (1) published and forthcoming papers on the role of Shakespeare in Indian cinemas 2) chapters of books and an co-edited collection on the centrality of women not only as subjects of representation but also as filmmakers and creative practitioners on the Indian screen, which highlights the particular utility of Shakespeare for addressing gendered preoccupations in Indian cinemas. The fellowship, then, has produced original research while generating local and international impact and supporting the career development and mobility of the experienced researcher.
The data sets collected during this MSCA will inform and enhance a great number of publications in the coming years, in addition to the ones produced and published during the fellowship itself.
"This MSCA has contributed to the field of Global Shakespeares in numerous ways. New perspectives are provided and new alleyways, possibilities and dialogue are opened up and explored. The Fellowship has mainly shed new light onto the role of Shakespeare in different Indian cinemas and how they think anew about Shakespeare, and the importance of gender. In the era of the #Metoo movement, a project like this remains necessary and crucial, for it has given voice to filmmakers and practitioners in Shakespeare studies for the first time. The International Conference on Women and Indian Shakespeares brought together a considerable number of artists that could speak for the first time about their Shakespearean works in front of an academic audience. The screenings and Q&As equally contributed to that. Furthermore, the collection will highlight the role of practitioners even more, as a filmmaker will be one of the co-editors. Valuable new understandings are emerging in the field.
Impacts anticipated from the MSCA are increased and improved: This fellowship has a) significantly enriched, expanded and complicated RGP’s understanding of the range and diversity of Shakespeare and Indian cinematic traditions b) situated her as the leading researcher in Europe in the field c) has deepened and developed her knowledge in relation to global Shakespeare studies and adaptation studies d) granted her previously unavailable practical and practice-based experience via the two secondments e) substantially raised her research international profile and her research networks f) created collaborative opportunities for RGP in non-academic sectors – the arts, archives, libraries and film and theatre organizations. Consequently, RGP has become an embedded and rounded researcher. This MSCA is intended to broaden career prospects, and it definitely has. The Fellow chose to return to her home university, where, thanks to MSCA, has become a Senior Lecturer."