Haider's "Mousetrap": Politicized Audiences in "Shakespearean" Kashmir


  • Amrutha Kunapulli Colby College
  • Emily Yates Clemson University




Haider, Adaptation, Audience, mousetrap, Bismil


This paper interrogates Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider as an adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and the extent to which a critical understanding of audience illuminates the political possibilities of adaptation. Placing the song sequence "Bismil" at the center of inquiry, we bring together theories of Shakespearean adaptation and Bollywood melodrama to underline the way Haider navigates the cultural and political ethics of a Shakespearean adaptation of a Kashmiri narrative. We place Haider in a long history of audience-centric criticism of Hamlet and attempt to understand how refashioning the play into a Bollywood melodrama complicates our notions of the affective and critical possibilities of Shakespeare and drama. The history of alienation and self-reflexivity within the play, and the newly conferred melodramatic excess and its use of public and nonindividuated audiences come together in understanding how Haider's departure from Hamlet might be in how it refashions its audience.

Author Biographies

Amrutha Kunapulli, Colby College

Amrutha Kunapulli is a scholar of cinemas of India. Her current project, Worlding Tamil Cinema, studies the globalist tendencies of twenty first century Tamil cinema and its position in the network of world cinema.  Her interests include stardom, fandom, digital media, world cinema and popular culture, and cinemas of the global south. She is currently a visiting assistant professor of cinema studies at Colby College. 

Emily Yates, Clemson University

Emily Yates is a Lecturer of English at Clemson University. Her research looks at the intersections of performance, early modern drama, and adaptation studies. She previously taught at Michigan State University where she earned her doctorate in English. Her work-in-progress is titled: “Something Rich and Strange”: Estrangement and Adaptation in Shakespeare’s Romances.