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From the bookshelf to Bollywood

In search of good-quality content for movies and digital streaming platforms, a lot of filmmakers are now moving to books, a trend which has picked up again

bollywood Updated: Nov 01, 2018 12:20 IST
Sanchita Kalra
Sanchita Kalra
Hindustan Times
Book to films,movie adaptations,Raazi
The Zoya Factor featuring Sonam K Ahuja and Dulquer Salman is also a book-to-film adaptation penned by author Anuja Chauhan

What’s the one common element between a movie with an exceptional script and a compelling plot of a novel? Good quality content. And in quest for that, a lot of film-makers are now turning to books and literature to make their movies and web series.

Set to release later this year, Thugs of Hindostan, starring Aamir Khan is based on the 1839 novel Confessions of a Thug by Philip Meadows Taylor, The Zoya Factor featuring Sonam K Ahuja and Dulquer Salman is also a book-to-film adaptation penned by author Anuja Chauhan. Film-maker Vishal Bhardwaj, whose latest offering Pataakha, was based on Charan Singh Pathik’s short story, Do Behnein, is reportedly set to adapt Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children for a web series. Some of Bhardwaj’s previous superhit adaptations from literature include Maqbool (2003), Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014), based on William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet respectively.

Books are not only being made into films but also into digital streaming platforms, with the most recent example being Sacred Games, which is a web series based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel
Novelists on rekindled interest in books

Author of Calling Sehmat, Harinder Sikka, whose book was made into Raazi, says, “There’s a shortage of good content in the film industry and the same formulae have stopped working. People want a ready-made solution, and now production houses have realised that people want good content.” Author Anuja Chauhan feels that apart from the big screen, there are so many digital entertainment platforms and that leads to a huge demand for good stories. She says, “Turning a book into a film or web series means half the work is done already. All that they need to do is make the story crisper, take the best parts and present it to the audience over the span of two-and-a-half hours.” She adds that it helps the writer get more readership.

What film experts think

Komal Nahta, film trade analyst, says, “It’s been going on in Hollywood for ages, and even in Bollywood, there were a lot of adaptations earlier and all of them were silver jubilee hits. However, it became fewer in between, but now it’s coming back. Although, it’s not a sure shot formula for a successful film, it at least gives you a ready-made story. Director Meghna Gulzar agrees: “As film-makers we look for good content, be it literature, folklore, and history, so, I think whatever makes the cinematic experience richer is good source.” She adds, “My experience tells me when the content is good and the intent is right, the audience picks up the movie very well.”

Author of Calling Sehmat, Harinder Sikka, whose book was made into Raazi, feels that there’s a shortage of good content in the film industry and the same formulae have stopped working.
Connecting film-makers with writers

Sidharth Jain, who runs a book-to-screen adaptation company that helps producers find books that can be adapted, says, “In search of premium content, a lot more conversions are happening now. Just buying the rights of the book is not enough, as for over-the-top platforms you need high engagement.” He adds, “Certain books are perfect for producing sequels and with long-term potential.” He further adds, “Although you get a ready-made story line, but good books don’t always make for good movies.”

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First Published: Nov 01, 2018 12:20 IST