Adaptation – Coming of age in India

Adaptation – Coming of age in India

Every year, there are many examples where the magic created on a big screen has its origins in an intriguing 100-page story. The popularity and mass connect of a character/ story/ franchise in one medium naturally lends itself to adaptation into other media forms. The popular TV series Sex and the City was adapted into a film. Superhero comics like Spiderman and Batman have become highly successful and lucrative film franchises. And there are many more examples of books adapted to film – Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, James Bond etc.

The Academy Awards are probably considered as the ultimate validation when it comes to cinema. Looking back at the 2013 Oscars, the most talked about films like Life of Pi and Argo were successful book adaptations. Also, the Academy Awards recognizing a category for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ in itself tells us that making films out of books (or news stories, games, comics) has been established as a successful and lucrative proposition.

In the Indian context, when one talks about book to film adaptations, the first name that pops up is Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Devdas. This classic Bengali novel is one of the 5 of the author’s books that were adapted into movies and probably the most popular and acclaimed of the lot. Devdas has been adapted many times over with the latest being the contemporary version of the classic love drama, Dev D by Anurag Kashyap. Umrao Jaan, starring Rekha, is another timeless classic adapted from an Urdu novel by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. This vintage saga was years later retold by J. P. Dutta and remakes emerged as the new and upcoming trend.

In recent times, films like Om Shanti Om, Don and Agneepath, are remakes of successful Hindi films of the 70s and 80s. Several recent blockbusters like Bodyguard, Kick, Ready are remakes of successful films from South India. A lot more filmmakers are now re-telling classic stories, adding new dimensions to it to make the story fit present day sensibilities of the audiences. We are awaiting the release of Himmatwala and Chasme Buddoor, both remakes of successful films in the 70s and 80s.

International films also provide great source material for Indian remakes. One of the first examples of this in India was Bheja Fry, which started the trend of Indie, small budget, story oriented films. Korean thrillers and horror, French romance and comedies etc are all great material for an Indian remake.

The Indian publishing sector is also gaining a lot of attention in mainstream media. Authors are now being recognised for their commercial success in addition to their literary acumen. Media has also started talking about the books on which films are being made. With this growing media attention on adaptations, the Indian masses are becoming increasingly informed about these movies that have been adapted from some platform or the other. Be it the very recent Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che or the blockbuster hit 3 Idiots, people are now aware of the original source of the story, so much so that the author and book’s name are used as primary hooks in the film’s promotion. We are going to see more and more of book to film adaptations and film remakes in India. And we will be front and centre of this.

Watch this space for more!!!

Sunil Doshi
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