If Shakespeare's works lend themselves to adaptation, Macbeth is tailor-made for retellings.
The universality of its ideas - power's lure, its resultant corruption and the harm it does - has long trumped the play's details.
The literary pieces' power dynamics have been applied to a variety of scenarios. The fundamental action of Anirban Bhattacharya's retelling of Macbeth is put in a much bigger framework since it is situated in a universe of vast elemental energies and he did an amazing job with it.
The pleasure of seeing a rewriting is in being astonished, despite the familiarity, by how closely it follows the original material and how it still can surprise you by going far.
Mandaar opens with a truck full of fish being delivered to the marketplace from the fictitious seaside hamlet of Geilpur.
A black cat comes sniffing, a weird looking adolescent (Sudip Dhara) dances and an elderly woman (Sajal Mandal), clutching a spear ready to be struck, utters wild declarations -the three witches in this Macbeth adaptation.
They have detected a disturbance in Geilpur. Its exploitation-based status quo will be overturned very soon.
A worker has gone rogue, inciting others to strike until their demands are satisfied, much like the lone fish that refused to go to market. The woman stabs the fish with the spear; telling a prophecy that said that the leader would suffer the same fate and it will be a complete disaster. Someone called Mandaar (Debashish Mondal) will reign supreme.
Dablu bhai, a promiscuous middle-aged thug, already sits on the throne who is despite Mandar's skills and undying dedication, is hesitant of promoting Mandaar); coupled with the cunning local politician Madan Halder (Loknath Dey), he devises methods to remain in power and govern Geil.
Mandaar's inability to pleasure his wife, Laili (Sohini Sarkar), the story's Lady Macbeth, put the plot in motion. She yearns for a child and craves power, so she sleeps with Dablu Bhai, in a twisted arrangement sanctioned by her husband.
The interplay of power, lust, greed and exploitation between Dablu bhai, Mandaar and Laili is complemented by other characters.
Bonka, Mandaar's friend and accomplice in crime and his son, Fontus, whose appointment as the new head of Jorabheri.
Another important character is Mukaddar Mukherjee, sleazy and gluttonous officer, who is the embodiment of immoral indulgences and, in certain scenes, gives a comedic touch.
The show seems to be the result of a completely new strain of Bengali film that has never been seen before.
Mandaar is a taut, visceral epic that both fascinates and entertains, with an ensemble performance for the ages by a mainly unknown cast drawn from the theater with the exception of Sarkar and Bhattacharya) and a top-notch technical staff such as cinematographer Soumik Haldar, production designer Subrata Barik among others.
The shots are quite precise in terms of the visual and auditory information they want to convey. For example, a hidden irony exists in a Che Guevara tee-shirt worn by Dablu Bhai's son in a scene when he beats up a worker.
In terms of drama, camerawork, actors and phonetics, the whole series has proved to be a huge success.
Anirban Bhattacharya accomplished an outstanding job as a filmmaker in his first feature film.
This also gives us hope that a series like this may be produced in Bangladesh.