Interspersed between Shakespeare’s poetry and prose, retired High Court judge Dato’ Mahadev Shankar shared with his audience the many court cases that he had handled during his career and their similarities with Shakespeare’s numerous plays.
The lecture, Shakespeare & The Drama of Life, organised by Perak Academy in Ipoh as part of the academy’s series of lectures had three elements: Shakespeare, Drama and Life.
Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, regarded as the greatest English language writer. He is also England’s national poet. Most of his prominent plays were produced between 1589 and 1613. Those who are familiar with Shakespeare ‘s plays would realise that not only was he a prolific writer, was also a master of human behaviour, which he accurately portrayed through the diverse characters in his plays.
Dato’ Mahadev Shankar was born in 1932 in Kuala Lumpur. A lover of Shakespeare’s works, he held the title role as Antonio in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in Victoria Institution Dramatic Society’s first major production.
Served as High Court judge from 1983 to 1997, he was also a member of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Video Clip to investigate an allegation of illegal intervention in the judicial appointment process of Malaysian judges, which purportedly occurred in 2002.
Dato’ Shankar’s long and illustrious legal career in Malaysia has provided him with the opportunity to watch and study human behaviour. He is therefore, the right person to match real life with fiction. As he so rightly put it, “The weapons of war may have changed, but the art of war remains the same because people and their thoughts, behaviour and actions remain the same no matter which century they live in.”
The 83-year-old, who left a rewarding corporate life for public service upon his appointment as judge in 1983, believed that democracy functions on three pillars: the state, the rule of law and accountability. If these three pillars are balanced, everything will go smoothly.
Comparing the relevance of Shakespeare, who lived in the 16th century, to us here in the 21st century, Dato’ Shankar cited Shakespearean plays from Julius Caesar to Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and Merchant of Venice in relation to issues of public interest.
Dato’ Shankar concluded his hour-long talk with a quote from Hamlet, To be or not to be? He said, “Life is all about choices. Whether we want to do something or not, it is our choice and we are faced with the need to make such choices in our daily life.”
With the objective of making Perak a centre of thought, Perak Academy brings to Ipoh prominent speakers to speak on a diverse range of topics on a monthly basis. For information on upcoming talks, log on to perakacademy.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are from the speaker and not of the writer personally.
Event: Perak Academy Lectures – “Shakespeare & The Drama of Life” by Dato’ Mahadev Shankar
Venue: Thomson Road, Ipoh
Date: 31st July, 2015
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