The World Book Fair at New Delhi is about to begin, and INDIAreads will be there.
Do visit the INDIAreads stalls – we can’t wait to have you paw our brand new merchandise even as you struggle to manage a cheap sandwich with one hand, and a screaming brat with the other.
It’s always a pleasure to hear you gossip about the authors in hushed tones (“Amartya Sen – isn’t he the guy that invented Amul..?”), and it really makes our day when you ask us 50 painfully mundane questions and end up buying nothing. We live for those moments!
The theme at this year’s fair shall be ‘Indian Cinema’.
Cinema and Literature – Really…?
As long as the cinematic medium has existed, the movie industry has looked to literature for both inspiration and content.
But when turning a literary masterpiece into a movie, do the two mediums share enough commonalities so as to enable a smooth transition…?
The filmwallahs would answer ‘yes’. From ‘About A Boy’ to ‘Wuthering Heights’, the conversion of popular books to big screen pictures has been a recurring theme in film, particularly in recent years with the success of huge franchises like Harry Potter and the Twilight saga.
While much discussion centers around adaptations that aren’t seen as having lived up to the literature on which they are based, there are many adaptations that actually enhance an existing story; or completely supersede it.
Example: Fight Club – a brilliant movie, stemming from an okay novel.
Or Clueless, which takes a novel from 1815 and makes it relevant to the modern day by setting the story of Jane Austen’s Emma in the context of a Beverly Hills high school.
But all faffing aside – the tendency to make film adaptations of books stems largely from the desire for a guaranteed audience, and is not quite the ‘natural progression’ for a book as advocated by some filmmakers.
Flipside? Stories are abridged, scenes are added, movie-only fans (newbies, resented by the hard core lit enthusiasts) are born, and those who followed the series from its inception are often left feeling a little disappointed at the end product.
The greatest difference between movies and novels is that cinemagoers share a much more social, passive experience than bookworms – who enjoy an active, solitary read. This means that while those reading the book have their own visions of characters and events, film audiences are forced to share a single vision of what these aspects of the story look like.
This alienates the book fan further – what was once a personal experience for him/her, is now universal; with the perceptions and prejudices of producers, directors, actors and audiences – all influencing the final product.
All is not lost, though.
In Part II, we shall take a look at some of the more successful experiments to have managed the leap from literature to cinema.