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Riz Ahmed’s Modern “Hamlet” Adaptation Begins Filming
“Our Hamlet is an outsider in a wealthy British Indian family,” Ahmed and Karia say. "His bloody quest for revenge against his father’s killer will be told with a boldness and urgency that grabs hold of audiences and won’t let go.”
Filming began earlier this month on “Hamlet,” a modern adaptation starring Riz Ahmed and directed by Aneil Karia. The duo, known for their previous collaboration on the Oscar-winning short film "The Long Goodbye" (2020), reunites for a British Indian take on Shakespeare's classic. The film aims to bring a fresh perspective to the timeless story with a diverse cast, a contemporary London setting and the infusion of classical verse with the energy of rap. The film will also explore themes of race, mental health and inequality.
Ahmed and Karia say that their version of Hamlet “asks if setting things right means setting fire to the old order,” pointing to an interpretation that is seldom explored in adaptations of the Shakespeare classic. “Our Hamlet is an outsider in a wealthy British Indian family,” Ahmed and Karia say, “who starts to question his relatives’ morality and his own sanity after encountering his father’s ghost. Hamlet’s bloody quest for revenge against his father’s killer will be told with a boldness and urgency that grabs hold of audiences and won’t let go.”
Ahmed stars the troubled prince Hamlet, navigating a journey from elite London to the city's underground in a quest for revenge against his father's killer. Also attached to the cast are Morfydd Clark as Ophelia and Joe Alwyn as Laertes.
In their joint statement, the filmmakers also said, “We want to continue what we started with ‘The Long Goodbye,’ in telling a story that is both totally grounded and authentic but then pushes into action, thriller, genre and poetry. We’ve both felt on the outside of Shakespeare, but as South Asians also deeply connect to what these stories are about – themes like family, honor, and duty. So, our aim is to bring Hamlet to life by setting it in our own community.”
“Hamlet” is produced by Left Handed Films and Storyteller Productions. Michael Lesslie, who has previous Shakespeare adaptation experience, wrote the screenplay. Ahmed and Karia aim to bring a grounded yet bold perspective to Shakespeare's work, infusing it with elements of action, thriller, genre and poetry.
The project will be launched at the Cannes Film Market by WME Independent, co-representing North American rights with CAA.