FILMS BITTEN BY THE LIT BUG
More than a dozen Bollywood films based on books are in the pipeline right now. We figure out why
Films based on books are common in Hollywood and we can also find quite a few examples in Bollywood. But until now, we’ve never seen so many A-listers of mainstream Indian cinema snap up so many book rights for adaptation — at least four such films are in various stages of production right now, and several well-known directors are also working on more adaptations.
For starters, Alia Bhatt (bottom left) will star in the film adaptation of Calling Sehmat by Harinder S. Sikka, while Deepika Padukone (right) is set to star in Vishal Bhardwaj’s next production, based on a story from S Hussain Zaidi’s book, Mafia Queens of Mumbai. Then, Akshay Kumar (above left) has wrapped up Padman, based on his wife Twinkle Khanna’s story The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad. This Friday will see Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor in a film based on a Chetan Bhagat bestseller.
Filmmakers such as Sriram Raghavan, R Balki, Ashutosh Gowariker, Nitesh Tiwari, and Sajid Khan are working also on various Bollywood adaptations of books.
“Literature will never go out of fashion,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh. “Big stars and directors have all heard of bestsellers and are aware that people have loved a particular book. And if a large number of people have embraced the book, it’ll make for a great film story, too.”
Director Mohit Suri says that it’s not easy to “summarise [an] entire book into a two-hour-long film”, so “you have to pick and choose”. He adds, “That’s where the trick lies, because it’s like thousands of people have read the script beforehand.”
Why is cinema showing so much love for books now? Trade expert Amod Mehra says that most film writers today want to be directors. “The side-effect is that [good] writers are a rarity. And so filmmakers, who need stories, have to turn to literature.”