Industry executives, producers and screenwriters delved into the details of adapting literary materials into film scripts at a Film Bazaar Knowledge Series discussion this week.
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India has experienced a growing use of books as source material in recent years, driven in part by streaming, according to Sidharth Jain, founder of specialty editing company Story Ink. called “an inflection point”. But India’s industry is still relatively new to the process and Jain said development capital remains “a pain point”.
“As an industry, we are still learning how to script and we are still learning to write in the right format. But we will pick it up soon,” said producer Sunitha Tati. She cited the example of the recent Tamil-language hit “Ponniyin Selvan: I” (“The Son of Ponni”), based on a book. “Director Mani Ratnam probably knew how to bring a much-loved novel to the screen in the most appropriate way.”
“Netflix has led the book-to-screen initiative in India,” said Tanya Bami, head of series at Netflix India. “Having a book as source material helps to get attention. We love the conversion of a book into a screenplay and then into a movie or series. We have seen success with the format including ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Selection Day’ and ‘Monica, O My Darling’.”
Aspiring filmmakers were advised to do their homework and compare and contrast the original books with the finished films. “Anyone who has seen Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’ should read Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s book and compare how Ray transposed the book and thereby understand things like what to expand and what to leave out,” said Vikram Sahay, co-secretary, Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
Amar Chitra Katha, a company with a huge comic book library of 400 or more titles, has partnered with well-capitalized production company Applause Entertainment (“Criminal Justice India”, “Scam 1992”) to bring some of the titles to to be used in animated films. content. “The comic book is a finished storyboard. With Applause Entertainment, we have a deal in 2D and 3D animation, but there is also so much potential for live action,” said Preeti Vyas, CEO and President of Amar Chitra Katha.
“Nowadays, some write books with the intention of making movies to get rich quickly. But a book works best when it fulfills its full potential and achieves what it is supposed to do,” says author Tahira Kashyap Khurrana. “But when [a book is] written from the only perspective to make it into a movie, it fails miserably. Both formats are different, but you have to stay true to your medium,” she said.
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