‘Singing Is Such Sweet Sorrow’: Ambikapathy, Hollywood Shakespeare and Tamil Cinema’s Hybrid Heritage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses a thematic and textual evolution from 'telling' to 'showing'—from script to song, stage to screen—using Linda Hutcheon and Siobhan O'Flynn's theory of cinematic adaptation. Ambikapathy employs cinematic techniques, set elements and imagery to translate the narrative of 'telling' into 'showing', transcending linguistic distinctions for a polyglot Indian audience. Ambikapathy's singing lovers begin in discretion and end in open passion as Ambikapathy and Amaravathi's romance progresses from the first love message to the balcony scene and bedroom kiss, an evolution that further illustrates the complex negotiation between the private and public representation of romance in Tamil cinema. The lovers' union acts as a metaphor for the ideals of the liberation of the Tamil motherland and the abolition of caste-based hierarchies. The chapter considers the intertextual use of Shakespearean dialogue and songs to highlight 'telling' through 'singing', using music as a unifying language of emotion that 'replaced the presumed visual universality of silent films with a new aural universality.'.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShakespeare and Indian Cinemas
Subtitle of host publication"Local Habitations"
EditorsPoonam Trivedi, Paromita Chakravarti
Place of PublicationNew York & London
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781138946927
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Shakespeare
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group


  • Shakespeare, film, South India


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