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Movie adaptations of Bestsellers: a growing trend in Bollywood


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!


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