A Bollywood Version of Romeo and Juliet is Born Off Broadway

Shakespeare, Bollywood Style.
Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet" is getting a Bollywood makeover. In this version of the play, the Montagues are from an old money Indian family, while the Capulets are portrayed as one of the city’s newly wealthy elite. Courtesy Hypokrit Theatre Company

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It’s the story of two young lovers kept apart because of an ancient feud between two families that has entranced millions for generations. But William Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet" is now getting the Bollywood treatment.

India’s popular film industry loves nothing more than a story about forbidden love. So Hypokrit Theatre Company co-founders Arpita Mukherjee and Shubhra Prakash are producing an off-off Broadway version that replaces the streets of 16th century Verona with the sights and sounds of modern day New Delhi. The play will debut in February at the Access Theatre in New York.

“Every time I read Romeo and Juliet I just thought it was just like a masala Bollywood movie,” says Mukherjee, a veteran of Washington D.C.’s Shakespeare scene. “It has everything, -- romance, drama, action."

Many of the cast members say they grew up watching Bollywood films with their families. “My mom is a classic Indian dancer," said Brinda Dixit, a first-generation Indian American who plays Juliet, "so I grew up in the Indian arts."

In this version, the Montagues are from an "old money" Indian family, while the Capulets are portrayed as one of the city’s "new money" elite.

“The way the love story plays out with the love triangle, and [how Romeo is] doing everything to be with her, that’s very Bollywood,” notes Gerrard Lobo, who plays Romeo. While the play is not a musical, the directors have incorporated elements of Bollywood music and dance into the storyline.