Adapting books into feature films has always been a risky territory. For most book readers, there is a sense of apprehension while watching a movie based on your beloved book since adapting a book is not easy. And not to mention, the mediums are vastly different. Often, in books, the author is able to convey his own perspective through the narrator’s voice or otherwise. Whereas achieving the same in feature films is massively different and difficult.
And even though Hindi film industry has often been criticised for spoiling a cherished book for its readers with a loosely executed adaptation, there have been times when the adaptations have been pitch-perfect, and in some rare cases, even better. While there is no end to our imagination when it comes to comparing books and movies, sometimes, directors are even able to extend a writer’s story in a way that is truly magical to witness on screen, both for the readers and the author. With Danny Denzongpa’s Bioscopewala hitting the theatres this week, we list down five Bollywood book adaptations that have done full justice to their source material.
The latest addition to this list is Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi which is based on Harrinder Sikka’s book Calling Sehmat. Though Meghna did take some creative liberties tweaking a number of minor storylines for the adaptation, Raazi managed to make an impression in the minds of viewers with its powerful yet unbiased message on patriotism. The film was especially appreciated for it being a stark departure from recent chest-thumping jingoistic narratives in the patriotic films’ genre.
Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera, starring Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha was partly based on O Henry’s short story titled The Last Leaf. While Pakhi Roy Chaudhary was a character developed on the lines of the story itself, Motwane along with scriptwriter Bhavani Iyer created the character of the conman Nandu on their own. The film appealed to the audiences with its subtle take on love.
Though Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Devdas has been adapted numerous times for the silver screen including the overtly dramatic Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas starring Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit, the one adaptation that stands out is Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D. Starring Abhay Deol, Kalk Koechlin and Mahie Gill in the lead roles as Dev, Chanda and Paro respectively, the film’s modern take on the Bengali classic was loved by one and all.
An adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s popular novel Five Point Someone, 3 Idiots starring Aamir Khan, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi went on to break several records at the time of its release. Still considered to be one of Aamir Khan’s best films, the Rajkumar Hirani directorial presented a refreshing take on the futility of the existing education system in India. The film also starred Kareena Kapoor in a pivotal role and writers slightly changed the way the story ends.
Vishal Bhardwaj has become a champion of sorts at adapting Shakespearian tragedies into Bollywood films. While his all three adaptations have been highly appreciated masterpieces, my personal favourite is his 2006 release Omkara which is based off Omkara. Starring Saif Ali Khan, Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor and Vivek Oberoi in pivotal roles, Omkara is setMeeruteert, Uttar Pradesh. And just like the rest of his films, Bhardwaj especially excelled in providing Omkara a cultural identity of its own despite being an adaptation.