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Dhananjay Tripathi

Dhananjay Tripathi

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Published by: Dhananjay Tripathi on Jan 17, 2012
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Othello and Omkara: a comparative study of two different civilizations

Dhananjay Tripathi University of Allahabad dhananjaystriapthi9@gmail.com & Dr. ShriKrishan Rai Assistant Professor NIT Durgapur Durgapur WB

As literature differs from other subjects in the representation of human experience, play differs from the other genres of literature in its portrayal of almost all the aspects of human life. A play, unlike poetry, portrays more than one temperament and trait of its protagonists. It is a prerogative of a playwright that he can deal with all human emotions and every aspect of human life in a single work of art. As John Dryden defines in Essays of Dramatic Poesy (1681), “A play is a just and lively image of human nature, representing its passions and humours, and the changes of fortune to which it is a subject, for the delight and instruction of mankind”. Here it can be argued that the representation of the passion, sorrows and fortunes is nothing but a reflection of culture and civilization. This endeavour is to show these different aspects of human nature and on a more similarities in the nature of a character of 16th century’s Europe and it’s adaptation in Indian context after five centuries irrespective of the disparities of time place and action. Keywords: Otheloo , Omkara(the Bollywood movie), human psyche, civilisations’ approach , class, creed race, culture politics.

William Shakespeare’s 17th century play Othello and Vishal Bhardwaj’s 21st century movie Omkara are the reflections of two different civilizations. Othello sets in 17th century Venice and Omkara sets in somewhere in India of 21st

the contemporary India involves Politics and conspiracies. have thought this whole character un-natural. In fact both Iago and Tyagi though are product of different civilizations and time are villain not because of wrong motive but because of inbuilt . and naturally involves war battles or chivalry as these are the customary elements of 17th century civilization. because his villainy is without a sufficient motive Round Table Character of Shakespeare (1936) Coleridge says that he (Iago) had no motive at all for letting loose hell in Othello’s world. Both Shakespeare and Bharadwaj have followed the current issues of their respective time. As a domestic play Othello is a story of an aristocratic family of ladies and Dukes. If Rome of that time involves kingship in intrigues.century. Shakespeare’s Othello and Bharadwaj’s Omkara both are hailed because both deal with human nature beyond the differences of civilization and time. As Hazlitt says: The character of Iago is one of the supererogations of Shakespeare’s genius. moves around the politics and rivalry of two political groups. on the other hand. Some persons. Langda Tyagi in ‘Omkara’ also lacks the reason and motive. more nice than wise. It is all “The motive hunting of a motive less malignity”. In Othello critics fail to make out the motive of Iago for destroying Othello’s world. Omkara.

the villains of different time and different civilization try to come to the centre from the periphery of the power structure. The very second speech of Iago shows the sense of rivalry: One Michael Cassio. It is the rivalry between Cassio and Iago or Tyagi and Kesu which drives the plot of the play and movie. (Othello Act 1. Sc i) . A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife. Nor the division of a battle knows More than a spinster.villainy of their characters. Despite the fact that both the play and the movie have different settings and time frame have similar plot subtext. That never set a squadron in the field. Both villains have jealousy for their fellows i. Cassio or Kesu Firangi. dominated by the ‘bahubalis’. Both involve ‘power politics’ as in both works. a Florentine. without practise. unless the bookish theoric.e. Wherein the toged consuls can propose As masterly as he: mere prattle. But despites theses apparent differences both echo the human aspirations of power and desires for higher status through their immortal villains. and both are ‘Practical fool’ who get pleasure to create problems for others. Othello portrays the feudal system kingship and chivalry whereas Omkara portrays democracy and political system in India. The deep analysis of the play and the movie show that there are many human emotions which are common in every civilization and this is the reason that despite the difference of civilizations the movie and the play have the human sense of rivalry as a fuel which generates movement in both.

.. Both Shakespeare and Bharadwaj has successfully projected the ‘ Othello syndrome”.an old black ram/ Is tupping your white ewe! Arise. in their projection of similar theme in quite contrasting settings the incredulity of Othello can be traced in his response to Iago: By the world. I think that thou art just. Sc iii) On the other hand Omkara. rise.The next point which claims the ‘universalism’ of literature and rejects fragmentary and limited human knowledge is the sense of incredulity. I think my wife be honest. who kills the whole team of captain just on a vulgar comment on Dolly. and think she is not. We find the example of colour politics when Iago says: . (Othello Act II. a term which has recently gained popularity in psychoanalysis theory.. and think thou art not. colour and race. starts suspecting the faith and love of Dolly just after listening to Tyagi’s fabricated question: What Kesu was doing with Dolly in the home? The next common element that is discernible both the works despite above quoted differences is the discrimination on the basis of cast.

here the word brute symbolises his half caste. Dolly’s father says “ I have forgotten that You are a half cast” ( Tu Brahman to hai per ‘aadha’) . black skin and above all his inferiority. Arise I say” (Othello Act II. Another human element which persists in 17th century as well as in 21st century and lasts in Western as well as in Indian civilization is the question of women’s fidelity .Awake the snorting citizens with the bell Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you.) This discriminated and self consciousness of inferiority is also dominant in the remotest corner of India and even finds relevance for expression in 20th century as in the very first appearance of Omkara. and my relief Must be to loathe her. for I am black And have not those soft parts of conversation That chamberers have.--yet that's not much— She's gone. I am abused. he also conscious of his inferiority when he expresses his doubt to Dolly that how she fell in love with a brute like him. (Othello ActIII Sc iii. Sc i) Even this sense of inferiority of Othello surfaces when he says: Haply. or for I am declined Into the vale of years. Omkara who is not only the envoy of Indian civilization but also a 21st version of Othello.

towards their husband or father. Emilia is stabbed by Iago but with the changing standard of women in the society the character of Kajari in the movie is an example of ‘New Woman’. The woman characters of the play are meek. as she stabs Tyagi. Here kajari explains the double nature of women is an instance to quote from the movie. her husband rather than being stabbed by him. (Othello Act V Sc ii) This disbelief or the question mark on the women’s character is also apparent in Omkara . It surfaces in Othello when Iago says: she doth deceive her father. Because of such scenes in the movie it becomes quite . The kneeling down of Desdemona with soft and submissive tone is an apt example. This incident in the movie places it beyond the image of just an adaptation of a classical piece of art and gives it the gravity of contemporary issues. submissive and gentle the qualified commonly associated with Elizabethan ladies.The conversation between Omkara and Kajari just before the marriage ceremony in which Omkara doubts the loyalty of Dolly by saying that if she can betray her father for me why can’t me for somebody else. In terms of portrayal of women characters the movie and the play have some differences due to the changing scenarios and demands of emancipation of woman. marring you A when she seem’d/ To shake and fear your looks.

.he is vulgar. Tyagi. . Tyagi the counterpart of Iago is also vulgar and foul and meets his tragic death at the end which is due to the oriental concept that villain must die otherwise in the play we haven’t have any reference of Iago’s death. Similarly. the Waist band in the movie is equally important for the tragedy however it is important to note that Bhardwaj has used Waist band.e. and his probable want of military science may well be significant”. The next change in the portrayal due to the different civilization is the character of Iago. a jewellery instead of the original handkerchief..pertinent to the present scenario dealing with existing questions of its time. as jewellery are considered as the most fascinating gifts in Indian civilization and society to be given to a wife or to a beloved rather than anything else... in the movie. In Othello Iago tempts Othello for overhearing the fragments of Cassio’s conversation about Bianca and then misinterprets it whereas the Iago of modern world i. (Shakespearean Tragedy. Regarding the significance of the handkerchief we can say that the handkerchief which she has lost becomes terrible to her. Analysing Iago AC Bradley says “. The impact of 21st century life style and technical advancement of technology can be seen in the movie. In terms of the impact of civilization over the plot the most pertinent argument is the reference of the ‘waist-band’ and ‘handkerchief’ in the movie and the play respectively. uses mobile phone for the same purpose which is the impact of 21st century civilization dominated by technology. 1904).

p. although its open windows were steamed envelopes. creed. culture and even civilization. (The Prodigal.Thus. instead the folded echo of interrogation. . literature which deals with universal emotions can’t be affected by the change of time or place. 38) So. of conspiracy. it always works for human development in different forms. Substantiating this view of porous boundary of literature a Caribbean Derek Walcott claims: But there was no partition in the sunshine of the small rusty garden that a crow crossed with no permit. surrounded it. we find that this short analysis of a contemporary movie based on an Elizabethan play shows that literature has a porous boundary which defies class.

1907. Deut & Sons Ltd. • Walcott. 2005. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributers. . Derek. Deut & Sons Ltd 1936. M. Dowden. London: Macmillan Press 1904.Works Cited: • Bradley. Shakespeare: A Critical Study of His Mind and His Art. London: Faber and Faber. AC Shakespearean Tragedy. London: I. • • • ST Coleridge’s essays and Lectures on Shakespeare and some other Old Poets and Dramatics. William Round table Characters of Shakespeare’s plays. I. London. Hazlitt. M. Edward. The Prodigal.2003.

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