Oscar Winners Riz Ahmed, Aneil Karia Reteam for Modern ‘Hamlet’ Adaptation

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Riz Ahmed and Aneil Karia are teaming again for a modern, London-set British Indian adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

The pair won the 2022 best live action short film Oscar for “The Long Goodbye,” which they co-wrote, Ahmed starred in and Karia directed.

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WME Independent will launch international sales at the Cannes Film Market, while co-representing North American rights with CAA.

Ahmed stars as Hamlet, haunted by his father’s ghost and driven to increasingly unstable heights. Moving from elite London to the city’s underground, from Hindu temples to homeless tent cities, he goes to rash and violent lengths to avenge his father’s murder, ultimately questioning his own role in the family’s corruption and who he has become.

Morfydd Clark (“Saint Maud”) is attached to play Ophelia and Joe Alywn (“Conversations with Friends”) will play Laertes.

Karia, whose feature debut “Surge” played in competition at Sundance, will direct the screenplay from Michael Lesslie (“Macbeth”). James Wilson (“Under the Skin”) will produce along with Lesslie’s Storyteller Productions (“The Rescue”) and Ahmed and Allie Moore on behalf of their Left Handed Films (“Mogul Mowgli”)

“This is a Hamlet about race, mental health and inequality, which asks if setting things right means setting fire to the old order. Our Hamlet is an outsider in a wealthy British Indian family, 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,” said Ahmed and Karia.

“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. We want to crack this timeless story open for a wider audience – with a diverse cast, a contemporary London setting, and by injecting classical verse with the energy of rap, a genre which we have both worked in for years,” Ahmed and Karia added.

WME Independent co-heads Deborah McIntosh and Alex Walton said: “This is a version of ‘Hamlet’ unlike any you’ve seen before. It will be visceral, modern, and will touch upon current themes. There is no better duo than Riz and Aneil to bring this film to life with their incredible and proven storytelling abilities.”

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