Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Adapted Screenplay

Adapted Screenplays seem to be such beautiful things to me. They represent the perfect example of symbiosis in the world of art, literature, theatre and films. A motion picture adaptation of a well known and acclaimed novel or drama is hyped and people wait for its release once the news about the movie adaptation breaks out. And thus, the movie sells like hot cakes and people throng the multiplexes without finding out whether the movie is really good or not. The recent movie 3 Idiots based of Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘Five Point Someone’ is the most suitable example for this. I and many of my friends awaited its release well before the movie was relaesed.

On the other hand if the movie based on a less known novel becomes a blockbuster, people crowd the bookstores looking for the original script or the novel. The last year’s Academy Award winner Slumdog Millionaire holds a testimony to this fact. Few knew about Vikas Swarup’s novel ‘Q & A’ before it was made into a movie which won the Oscar Award. This was despite the fact that the novel had already won the Republic of South Africa’s Boeke Prize in 2006.

I watched 3 Idiots because I knew about ‘Five Point Someone’ and read ‘Q & A’ because I had seen Slumdog Millionaire. Either way, one benefits from the other and vice versa and the different genres of art continue to flourish. But the problem arises when one is not given the due credits for the success of the others, as happened in the case of ‘Five Point Someone’. Everyone who had read the novel before could easily relate to the novel, with obvious differences of course. And it looked very absurd and astonishing when the makers of the movie discarded the similarities saying that the movie resembled the novel only by 2-5%.

On the other hand, one can find relatively fewer similarities between Slumdog Millionaire and ‘Q & A’ and still the movie makers sitting in England didn’t forget to give due credits and acknowledgement to the Indian writer. Quite contrary to what the Indian moviemakers did to the Indian writer!! Sometimes I wonder whether it is in the nature of us Indians to take all the credits on ourselves and leave the blame for others. We always like to have our pie in someone else’s success and quite comfortably shift the blame on others when something wrong happens. Well, that is another story. What bothers me now is irrespective of it is the fault of moviemakers of 3 Idiots or that of Chetan Bhagat to gain more popularity and be the centre of media (as alleged by the moviemakers), this trend is not good for the movie industry or the novelists and writers. The symbiosis between the various genres of art should continue as it has in the past. And if it is disturbed in any manner, both the genres are going to suffer. And apart from the moviemakers and the novelist, going to suffer a lot are the movie-goers and the book lovers, who would loose interest in the ‘Adapted Screenplay’ Symbiosis.

And What a Loss that would be!!

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