Maqbool is a 2003 Indian crime drama film directed by Vishal Bhardwaj and starring Pankaj Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Tabu 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. The critical success of "Omkara" was responsible for winning Francis Ford Coppola's attention.
The film had its North American premiere at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival. Though the film failed to entice much of an audience during its theatrical run in India, critics were appreciative and Pankaj Kapoor 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.
The film is based on William Shakespeare's Macbeth, with the Mumbai underworld as its backdrop. Maqbool (Irrfan Khan) is the right-hand man of Jahangir Khan (alias Abba Ji) (Pankaj Kapoor), 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, who open the film in their roles as black comic relief corrupt police inspectors-cum-astrologers, who 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 as "balancing forces," they also actively involve 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 (to the incumbent one, backed by Abba Ji) and a fleeing Guddu (Fleance) and Riyaz Boti against Maqbool.
Maqbool received positive reviews from critics. Rediff described the film as "a visual gallery that is an intelligent blend of dark, tragic overtones and comic, satirical undertones". Variety wrote that while the visuals are great, audiences might need an understanding of Macbeth to fully enjoy the film. India Today described it as a "haunting operatic tragedy". Outlook said that it "effectively transported the essence of the story to the milieu of the Bombay underworld of our times".
The soundtrack features eleven songs composed by Vishal Bhardwaj with lyrics by Gulzar.