By Riya Singla
‘Hollywood’, is something we all fancy. Indian film makers have always been inspired by the way Hollywood conducts itself. In Hollywood, it is quite common to make movies based on bestsellers but the trend is not so common in Bollywood. Or so we think! Over the years silently ingrained in our commercial successes have been the movies based on novels. Some of them have been official adaptations and others call themselves “inspirations”. But the amazing fact remains that Indian movies have always been made on written texts. Let’s take a sneak peek into a few of them.
Dating back to the times when Indian film making was at the stage of infancy, the movie ‘Raja Harishchandra’(1913) was one ‘inspired’ by the ideological character of the same name from ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’. Moving a bit ahead on the timeline, into the era of 1970s- 80s, we had some great work like ‘Guide’ (based on The Guide by RK Narayanan), ‘Tere Mere Sapne’ (based on The Citadel by AJ Cronin) and ‘UmraoJaan’ (based on UmraoJaan Ada by Mirza Hadi Ruswa).The novelist whose writings have been adopted in India in bulk is Mr. Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyaya. 5 of his novels have been adapted as great movies, the most famous amongst them being ‘Devdas’ and ‘Parineeta’. How many of us even knew that Devdas has been in 10 different adaptations?! With five adaptations in Hindi itself , three in Bengali, one in Tamil and Telugu and one in Assamese. Parineeta had five adaptations, out of which we are well aware of the one starring Vidya Balan.
If we were to honor someone as the pioneer of this trend, one of the contenders would be Mr. Vishal Bhardwaj. No one had earlier noticed Shakespeare’s iconic work being adapted into Bollywood until Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Maqbool’, an adaptation of ‘MacBeth’. The movie, along with winning great critical acclaim, received a few national awards too. Here, one cannot fail to mention Omkara, the Indian Othello, a great commercial hit with lots of tadka of songs and a star studded cast. Vishal Bhardwaj has delivered the same, time and again with movies like ‘Saat Khoon Maaf’ and ‘The Blue Umbrella’. Our bestselling author, Mr Chetan Bhagat, also enjoys the lime light with the biggest hit of our times ‘3 idiots’ based on his bestseller ‘Five Point Someone’. The other ones to his account are ‘Kai Po Che (based on ‘3 Mistakes of my life’) and Hello (based on ‘One night at the call centre’). Not to forget the upcoming and much awaited ‘Two States’ based on one of his most famous novels that goes by the same name. Oscar Nominated ‘Slum Millionaire’ also had its concept taken from ‘Q and A’ by Vikas Swarup.
The list cannot be summed up. The big banners in our country have always supported literature based cinema, which might be due to the fact that a well researched screenplay is taken up and they have already seen the success of the projects they are taking up. One can’t say how the future project would turn out but today I can surely say that we all just love the concept of taking ‘the text from the book’ to ‘the dialogues on screen’ with the added flavors of songs, visual effects and star studded drama!