Maqbool poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVishal Bhardwaj
Screenplay byVishal Bhardwaj
Abbas Tyrewala
Story byVishal Bhardwaj
Abbas Tyrewala
Based onMacbeth by
William Shakespeare
Produced byBobby Bedi
Murli Sharma
Pankaj Kapur
Om Puri
Naseeruddin Shah
CinematographyHemant Chaturvedi
Edited byAarif Sheikh
Music byVishal Bhardwaj
Distributed byKaleidoscope Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
Yash Raj Films[1]
Release dates
  • 10 September 2003 (2003-09-10) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • 30 January 2004 (2004-01-30) (India)
Running time
132 minutes

Maqbool is a 2004 Indian crime drama film directed by Vishal Bhardwaj and starring Irrfan, Tabu, Pankaj Kapur, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Piyush Mishra, Murali Sharma and Masumeh Makhija in an adaptation of the play Macbeth by Shakespeare.

The plot of the film is based on that of Macbeth with regard to events and characterisation. The film did not perform remarkably at the box office, but won director Vishal Bhardwaj international acclaim. Apart from directing it, he had also composed the background score and songs for the film. Bhardwaj then moved on to adapting William Shakespeare's Othello in his 2006 film Omkara which won him commercial as well as critical success. He then directed Haider in 2014 adapting Hamlet, leading to what is now called his Shakespeare trilogy.[2]

The film had its North American premiere at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. Though the film failed to garner much of an audience during its theatrical run in India, critics were appreciative and Pankaj Kapur went on to win a Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Critics) and a National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film was screened in the Marché du Film section of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.[3]


The film is based on William Shakespeare's Macbeth, with the Mumbai underworld as its backdrop. Miyan Maqbool (Irrfan Khan) is the right-hand man of Jahangir Khan (alias Abba Ji) (Pankaj Kapur), a powerful underworld don. Maqbool is grateful and feels a close connection and personal indebtedness to Abba Ji. Seeing their close relationship, but also sensing Maqbool's ambition, two corrupt policemen (Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah) predict that Maqbool will soon take over the reins of the Mumbai Underworld from Abba Ji.

Nimmi (Tabu) is Abba Ji's mistress, but she and Maqbool are secretly in love. Nimmi encourages Maqbool's ambitions and persuades him to kill Abba Ji to take over as Don. Maqbool is torn between his love for Nimmi and his loyalty to Abba Ji, but he begins to prepare the ground for becoming a Don, by ensuring that others in the line of succession cannot interfere. Finally, Maqbool murders Abba Ji in cold blood while he is in bed at night, with Nimmi next to him. Maqbool gets away with the murder and takes over as Don, just as planned; but both he and Nimmi are haunted by guilt, seeing Abba Ji's ghost and unable to wash the blood from their hands. There is also suspicion, within the gang, of Maqbool's role in the death of Abba Ji, and eventually the lovers meet a tragic end.

In addition to the portrayals of the three tragic heroes, the film offers performances by supporting cast members, in particular Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah. The two open the film in their roles as black comic relief corrupt police inspectors-cum-astrologers, predict the fall of Abba Ji—who has them on his payroll—and the rise and fall of Maqbool. Contrary to the original play, the corrupt cops are not just passive soothsayers. In an effort to sustain what they refer to as "balancing forces," they are also actively involved in shaping events, like aiding in providing information to Abba Ji's enforcers to wipe out a rival gang, using subtle nuances in coercing Maqbool to shift loyalties, deliberately botching an "encounter" attempt on Riyaz Boti (Macduff) and subsequently setting up an alliance between a rival politician (the incumbent one was backed by Abba Ji) and a fleeing Guddu (Fleance) and Riyaz Boti against Maqbool.


Actor Character in the movie Character in the play
Irrfan Miyan Maqbool Macbeth
Tabu Nimmi Lady Macbeth
Pankaj Kapur Jahangir Khan (Abbaji) Duncan I of Scotland
Om Puri Inspector Pandit Witch (Weird Sisters)
Naseeruddin Shah Inspector Purohit Witch (Weird Sisters)
Piyush Mishra Kaka Banquo
Ankur Vikal Riyaz Boti Macduff
Ajay Gehi Guddu Fleance
Masumeh Makhija Sameera, Abbaji's daughter Malcolm
Shammi Narang Mr. Vikas Bhosle
Pubali Sanyal Riyaz Boti's wife Lady Macduff
Master Raj Riyaz Boti's son Macduff's son
Gyanchand Rikhi Mughal Macdonwald
Manav Kaushik Asif Cawdor
Murali Sharma D.C.P. Davsare
Vinod Nahardri Chinna
Abbas Tyrewala Sadiq Chikna
Deepak Dobriyal Thapa
Firdaus Irani Usmaan
Vivek Mishra Tawde
Mohini Mathur Badi bi
Jaywant Wadkar Palekar
Jitendra Shrimali Palekar's P.A.
Shweta Menon Mohini Prasad
Bhupinder Sharma Mohini's secretary
Ramratan Sen Ahmed
Shankar Nihati Kaka's murderer
Dibyendu Bhattacharya Chinna's killer
Nadeem Khan Badi bi's killer
Richa Nayer Doctor
Sanjay Bhutiyani Custom Officer
Dayashankar Pandey Masterji


Irrfan Khan was selected to portray the lead role after attempts to sign Kamal Haasan, Akshay Kumar and Kay Kay Menon failed.[4]


Maqbool received universal critical acclaim. Rediff described the film as "a visual gallery that is an intelligent blend of dark, tragic overtones and comic, satirical undertones".[5] Variety wrote that while the visuals are great, audiences might need an understanding of Macbeth to fully enjoy the film.[6] India Today described it as a "haunting operatic tragedy".[7] Outlook said that it "effectively transported the essence of the story to the milieu of the Bombay underworld of our times".[8] Deccan Herald described the film as "Brooding, tragic and brilliant. 'Maqbool' with its satrical undertones is cinema at its best".[9]


Soundtrack album by
RecordedNirvana Studio
GenreFilm soundtrack
LabelMusic Today

The soundtrack features eleven songs composed by Vishal Bhardwaj with lyrics by Gulzar.

1."Jhin Min Jhini" (performed by Sadhana Sargam, Ustad Sultan Khan, Anuradha Sriram, Rakesh Pandit)5:32
2."Ru-Ba-Ru" (performed by Daler Mehndi, Rakesh Pandit, Sabir Khan, Dominique)5:53
3."Rone Do" (performed by Rekha Bhardwaj)5:02
4."Dheemo Re" (performed by Ustad Sultan Khan)3:18
5."Maqbool Theme" (instrumental)1:34
6."Rukhe Naina" (performed by Sanjeev Abhyankar)5:14
7."Chingari" (performed by Rekha Bhardwaj)4:26
8."Rin Din Din" (instrumental)1:36
9."Nirvana" (instrumental)1:53
10."Shoonya" (instrumental)1:58
11."Jhin Min Jhini (extended)" (performed by Sadhana Sargam, Ustad Sultan Khan, Anuradha Sriram, Rakesh Pandit)6:24

Further reading

Mendes, AC. “Transculturating Shakespeare: Vishal Bhardwaj’s Mumbai Macbeth”, Casie Hermansson and Janet Zepernick (eds.), Where is Adaptation? Mapping cultures, texts, and contexts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 165–180. ISBN 9789027201492