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Rao, Anandi (2022) 'Realizing a Subaltern Dream: The Politics of Language and Translation in Habib Tanvir’s Kamdev Ka Apna Basant Ritu Ka Sapna.' Shakespeare Bulletin, 40 (3). pp. 385-401.

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Habib Tanvir (1923–2009) was a noted Indian playwright who combined different influences to create what Anjum Katyal has termed “inclusive theatre.” In 1993 he translated and directed a version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream entitled Kamdev Ka Apna Basant Ritu Ka Sapna [The Love God’s Own, A Springtime Dream]. This article demonstrates how the language and class-based hierarchies within postcolonial India play out in Kamdev, in which the fairies and the elite characters speak Hindi/Urdu/Hindustani, and the mechanicals speak the Chattisgarhi dialect. I interweave a close reading of Tanvir’s published translation and a video recording of a performance of the play, directed by Tanvir, which is archived in the MIT Global Shakespeares Archive. Since Tanvir both translated and directed the play, I read the archived performance and the published text as extensions of each other, and view them as existing in a “reciprocal relationship” with “the Shakespearean ‘work’” (Kidnie 5). This approach allows me to move beyond existing scholarship on Tanvir’s adaptation, which has considered his work only in tandem with other Indian productions, and focus instead on how Tanvir uses the specific affordances of Dream to challenge class- and language-based hierarchies. Ultimately, I show how Kamdev affords its actors, members of a subaltern community, the space to make Shakespeare, once a tool of colonization, a tool to resist neocolonial cultural and linguistic hegemonies.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
ISSN: 07482558
Copyright Statement: This is the version of the article accepted for publication in Shakespeare Bulletin, 40 (3). pp. 385-401 (2022) published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Re-use is subject to the publisher’s terms and conditions
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2023 09:34

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