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Reeling pages

More and more popular Indian novels are catching Bollywood’s eye, reports Damini Purkayastha.

books Updated: Aug 03, 2008 13:56 IST
Damini Purkayastha

Advaita Kala, Karan Bajaj and Jaishree Misra all have one thing in common — their novels, out for less than a year, already have Bollywood (and international) directors scrambling for movie deals. Gone are the days of the nth remake of Devdas (hopefully), Bollywood directors now seem to be more interested in emerging literature that talks about the youth or represents their sensibilities.

Advaita Kala, who’s currently negotiating with directors, two Bollywood and one international, explains the interest as a hunger for good stories. “I think everyone’s looking for a good story. Characters from books come with an appeal of their own. Like the female protagonist of my book, she transcends barriers and encapsulates the female experience,” she said. Adapting to films Jaishree Misra, who’s received interest from directors for two of her books Rani and Ancient Promises, feels that filmmakers who adapt novels that are already famous have the commercial advantage of having a preset audience.

She adds, “Luckily there’s less condescension from the film world towards this new trend for commercial fiction as they’ve suddenly found a whole treasure-trove of stories in these books that are ‘film-able’ and more easily recognisable to their audiences.”

Chetan Bhagat is excited that Salman Khan plays him in the movie Hello. “These are guys I have grown up watching and for me this is just unbelievable.” Bhagat says he’s not possessive about his script as long as people respect the story. Also he looks forward to newer audiences reading the book once the movie is out. Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots, a movie based on Bhagat’s Five Point Someone went on floors recently. It stars Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Sharman Joshi, Madhavan, Boman Irani and is slated for a December release.

Kala says she was approached by filmmakers in December last year when the book had just been out for three months. “I wanted to hold off for a while before committing because then I would not have been in a position of control.” Now since the book is doing well, Kala says directors who approach her consider her opinion more and ask whether she wants to be a part of the scriptwriting process.

For Chitra Devakurni, whose book, Mistress of Spices, was made into a movie with Dylan McDermot and Aishwarya Rai, feels that it’s not important for filmmakers to stick to the book’s narrative as long as they get its spirit right. Viable Commercially bookto-movie deals are usually positive for publishing houses and writers alike. Each time a movie is made, books are re-released with new jackets and more aggressive marketing and the book gets what Kala calls a “second wind”.

But movie-rights for authors, feels Kala, is something still prevelant only in the West. “Directors weren’t forthcoming about movie-rights, so it’s not like banks roll for authors. But once publishers and authors get savvy, they will discuss and negotiate this further.” Karan Bajaj, who is currently negotiating with UTV and Kunal Kohli, says, “Financially, it helps authors a great deal — the minimum offer I received for movie rights is a great deal higher than what I’ll make from the book royalties in a year, although my book is already a best-seller.” As the trend grows the only thing all authors are worried about is that their readers are not let down by the movies.