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Sheikh Peer

The Tribune, Windows, Saturday, June 29, 2002 – Khushwant Singh in his column This Above All

Sheikh Peer

When I was first introduced to Shakespeare’s plays in college, a common joke was to say that Shakespeare was not an Englishman but an Indian named Sheikh Peer who the English had abducted from India and given another name. However, when I read some of his plays, I could discern nothing Indian in them. They also seemed to be beyond being translated into Indian languages. Nevertheless Imtiaz Ali Taj and Ahmed Shah Bokhari translated Midsummer’s Night’s Dream into Urdu. It was staged in Government College, Lahore. It was so well-rendered with necessary adaptations that I enjoyed the Urdu version more than the English original. Since then I have been curious to know if Shakespeare has been translated in other Indian languages and his plays put on the stage. I have little doubt that as in other matters of literature or art, the Bengalis must have been the first. But I have never heard of any being put on the Kolkata stage. I may be wrong.