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Indian's debut novel to become Hollywood flick

books Updated: Jul 25, 2009 15:01 IST
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Twenty-nine-year-old IIM-graduate Karan Bajaj's debut novel Keep Off The Grass has done incredibly well, selling 25,000 copies.

Taking the story one step further, the book is now being made into a film which, the author promises, will be a 'desi' version of the hugely successful movie The Motorcycle Diaries.

While The Motorcycle Diaries was based on the journey and memoir of 23-year-old Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, Bajaj's book is about a psychedelic road trip of a 25-year-old Yale graduate through the length and breadth of India.

Released last year, the storyline of the book may seem familiar, even cliched, at the first instance. A brilliant youngster born to immigrant parents in the US goes out in search of his roots.

However, the manner in which the story is developed, how Samrat, the protagonist, ends up in prison for possession of marijuana, his drug addiction, how he meditates in the foothills of the Himalayas, has a one-night stand with a hippie in Dharamsala and meets flesh-eating Aghoree saints on the banks of Varanasi, makes for a gripping novel.

No wonder his publishers HarperCollins, who have a 10,000-copies-sold mark to call a debut novel a success, are simply overwhelmed by his over 25,000-copies-sold mark.

The storyline also aroused the interest of Hollywood movie makers, the Mosaic Media Group that has produced blockbusters like Batman Begins and Dark Knight. They lapped up the script in no time.

To be directed by Ben Rekhi, who has directed independent Hollywood films like Waterborne and Bomb the System, the storyline has however been modified -- surprisingly much to the pleasure of the author.

"You know now when I read the book, I actually cringe at times. I think, is this what I think? It's true that most authors hate it if their books are modified in any way -- it's their creation after all. But I am happy with the changes that have been made with the book for the script," Bajaj told IANS.

"For one the campus portion of the book has been done away with and the script concentrates more on the journey of the protagonist. It will be like a desi version of the Motorcycle Diaries," he smiled.

Working now as a management consultant in the US, Bajaj graduated from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, in 2002. He is in India now on a personal visit.

Back to the movie, the cast of the film is still being discussed and Bajaj refuses to reveal any names.

"It will be a two-actor film and at this point we are not revealing any names. There were certain things we were very clear about the movie -- first that we didn't want a crossover film which doesn't belong anywhere. The film will be in Hindi and we have a translator for that purpose," Bajaj said.

However, talking about the pace of the project, Bajaj's voice had a tinge of regret.

"Kunal Kohli and Kohli Productions had shown interest in making a movie too and I sometimes feel that would have been good. Muscle power is important to get things done," he said.

Although no dates have been specified yet, Bajaj signs off saying: "The film will see the light of the day soon and hopefully be even better than the book."

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in )