Did You Know? - Bollywood Meets Famous Novels

Do you know how many outstanding films based on and adapted from famous novels and stories have come out of the Mumbai tinsel world?

Entertainment Desk
Written By: Entertainment Desk
Updated: April 30, 2023 | 11:30 IST
Shahid Kapoor
Do you know how many Bollywood movies are adaptation of these famous novels?

The pull of a good book is universal and Bollywood is no exception. Do you know how many outstanding films based on and adapted from famous novels and stories have come out of the Mumbai tinsel world? 

“Tere Mere Sapne” (1971), was based on The Citadel, written by A. J. Cronin.  Directed by Vijay Anand, it starred dashing Dev Anand, Bollywood siren Mumtaz and dream girl Hema Malini. Earlier in 1960 another of Cronin's books was made into Bambai Ka Babu also pairing Dev Anand with doe-eyed Suchitra Sen. The film became controversial because the lovers forced by a twist of circumstances had to pretend to also be brother and sister something unpalatable for the Indian audience of then. “Kohra” full of misty hints of the supernatural was based on Daphne du Maurier’s popular novel “Rebecca”. The role played by Lalita Pawar in the film was outstanding.

Pakistani writer Bapsi Sidhwa's 'Cracking India’ about the 1947 partition of India became ‘Earth’. Performances by Shabana Azmi, Aamer Khan, Rahul Khanna, and Nandita Das are till today recalled as sterling. It was directed by Deepa Mehta, who also made Water.

“Junoon” (1978) a story set in the 1857 uprising against the British was based on “The Flight of Pigeons” a novella penned by Mussoorie-based British writer Ruskin Bond. Nafisa Ali stole the show in this though veterans Shashi Kapoor, his wife Jennifer, Shabana Azmi, and Naseeruddin Shah were expectedly good.  Another of Ruskin Bond’s work, “The Blue Umbrella” was made into a cute children’s film in 2005.

Shakespeare or his ‘ghost’ is responsible for numerous Bollywood films, but ‘Haider’ based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and “Omkara’ on Othello both made by Vishal Bharadwaj made their mark.

Novelist Jane Austen is another Bollywood favourite. Her book “Emma” served as a plot for the Bollywood movie ‘Aisha’ starring Sonam Kapoor. Indian diplomat-writer Vikas Swarup’s “Q&A” turned into the hit Slumdog Millionaire. Indian-American Pulitzer-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri's debut novel 'The Namesake' received a brilliant faithful movie adaptation by director Meera Nair. It brought us an outstanding performance by Irrfan Khan and Tabu.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky's 'White Nights' was adapted into “Saawariya” by Sanjay Leela Bhansali into a magical screen version. 

The long list cannot end without mentioning the classic “The Guide” by celebrated writer R K Narayan which became ‘Guide’ in Hindi and ‘The Guide’ in English (1965). Despite the story not being in keeping with traditional Indian societal norms(Dev Anand has an affair with a married Waheeda Rehman), the film was a success elevating Dev Anand from the chocolate box hero to the status of a seriously talented actor.

How far has Bollywood been faithful to the original work is a debate for another day. Credit must go to Bollywood for churning out an entertaining end product. There is an opaque line between basing the film on a particular book and borrowing parts of it, or just being ‘inspired’ by it. The law does not recognize the last one.  Of late, more and more Bollywood filmmakers are going for registration and for purchasing copyright from original writers which was not the case earlier. Greater care is now being taken to avoid litigation when the film is ready to release.

World Books Day which was celebrated on April 23 saw Bollywood diva Madhuri Dixit spread the message of goodwill through a good book. World Books Day is also observed to emphasise the freedom to write and publish and to protect copyright. 

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