Book Day! What Book Do You Most Want to Be Made Into an Indian Film?

I am working through the hierarchy of needs, have you noticed? Food, then clothing, and now books. Next in importance so far as I am concerned.

Any book at all! Adapted closely or loosely, however you want. If you want to take your favorite teen novel, and reset it to pre-colonial Rajasthan, for example, I’m not gonna stop you. Or if you want to take your favorite sci-fi novel and put Indian movie stars in jumpsuits in zero gravity, that’s cool too.

Okay, here are mine!

Jane Eyre (Emily Bronte)

I have of course already written a detailed adaptation that is pretty faithful. But it doesn’t have to be that close, anything that takes the idea of a middle-aged single father who is difficult and scary and sarcastic falling in love with the much younger sheltered and unusual looking governess for his ward, that is what I want. Madwoman in the attic optional but encouraged. And if the Madwoman in the attic is played by Aishwarya in a cameo, that would be even better. I can’t believe no one has made this yet!

Kyun? GIF - Devdas Aishwaryarai Kyuuun - Discover & Share GIFs
Madwoman in the attic!

Tommy and Tuppence (Agatha Christie)

Two bright unemployed young people are contacted by a government agency and asked to investigate a mystery because official channels have had no luck and they stumbled into it. I think this would work great for modern Bombay or Bangalore or something! A boy and girl who were friends but not romantic in college are reunited in the city when they both show up in response to a job ad, notice something is weird about the interview, compare notes and figure out part of the mystery, and are contacted by a government office who tells them they have solved part of a problem that has mystified the office, and are given jobs as temporary contact employees to finally solve the mystery. More mystery solving involved, wealthy NRI shows up to help them, love triangle with wealthy NRI starts up, and finally mystery is solved and college friends are brave enough to admit their feelings for each other.

Shraddha Kapoor on Varun Dhawan: 'He has a very special place in ...
Maybe this is the perfect Varun-Shraddha movie?

Twilight (what’s her name)

I know, I’m supposed to be better than this and look down on the books and be a good feminist and blah blah blah. Don’t care! It’s a big swoony romantic love triangle. I want a stunningly beautiful young guy who is silently tormented, and a hunky muscular young guy who is hotblooded and a young woman who is stubbornly determined in who she loves. Heck, keep the vampire and werewolf thing too, it’s all good.

Okay, what are your books? Alternatively, what is your casting for my books?

35 thoughts on “Book Day! What Book Do You Most Want to Be Made Into an Indian Film?

  1. One of my biggest dreams has been to adapt Austen’s Persuasion into a Hindi web series. It’s a retrospective with the now-slightly-famous Anne (Aabirah?) looking back on her starting her music career during a documentary. Wentworth is one who always encouraged her and they were creative and romantic partners until she ditches him on both counts and he’s always bitter because it crushed his sense of self, so when he returns as an uber-famous rapper (though she isn’t one, while she CAN), it’s a whole THING.

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    • YES! I love this!

      What about this? She is a brilliant classical musician who likes writing and singing classical songs. She meets and falls in love with a self-taught rapper type who helps her get confident to perform and experiment and so on. Her boyfriend has a chance to go to London as an undocumented worker and begs her to come with, her wise mentor teacher person gently “persuades” her that this is a bad idea, because they are teenagers and have no plan and he is going to have a dangerous difficult life. She backs out of going with him, he is angry and heartbroken. Ten years later, she is respected among the exclusive musical salon set but not well known otherwise. He is a famous rapper/singer with sold out concerts and crazy success. They had one early recording together, the documentary people want to learn how this happened, it starts her reminiscing? And I guess at the same time, they start being in the same social circles, maybe he is starting to court the young documentarian until the documentarian ends up falling for someone else? And then it culminates in him overhearing her talk about how this song is about how women are capable of loving forever and ever. Which leads to him writing a poem and leaving it for her to read revealing that he still loves her TOO!!!!

      On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 1:16 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Now I kind of want to do a whole series of Persuasion ideas. Once you open it up to a general “proper young woman, lower class young man, she backed out of the elopement and years later is a dried up old maid while he has returned wealthy and successful”, there are about a million different angles on the thing.

          For example, Shahrukh-plays-himself-sort-of and Kajol-plays-Gauri-sort-of in a movie where a poor lower class boy and a rich young woman had a romance, but she refused to follow him to Bombay when he went off to be a movie star, and now she is an old maid and boring and he is The Biggest Movie Star in The World.

          On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 7:32 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Ahhh I love this, but I feel like I’m blanking!! My favorite book of the last couple of months has been Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, so that’s the only thing that readily comes to mind. It’s a short, quick read, so it could easily be expanded with songs and dancing and wouldn’t feel bloated. It would also have two great parts for women!

    Also, Aish as the madwoman in the attic is genius 🙂

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    • My Mom has been telling me and telling me to read Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day! And I still haven’t. But I have heard it is a quick fast fun read, and romantic, and has great female characters.

      I am very pleased with Aish as the madwoman in the attic. Especially because we would get a flashback of Rochester falling in love with her because she was so stunningly beautiful, complete with a dance performance. And then in the present day, she would just be spooky and longhaired and MAD.

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      • If you’re looking for something happy and joyful (which who isn’t nowadays), then it’s a good book to have in your back pocket.

        Yes!! It would be an opportunity for Aish to just go crazy, which I haven’t seen her do, but then again I’ve only seen her in Bhansali’s films, which don’t really go for that type of crazy.

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        • I think of her as pretty crazy in HDDCS! Actually, that would be a great starting point for her Madwoman character. Begin like a fragile romantic kind of naive young girl, and slowly unpack that until we see she’s just straight up bonkers.

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          • Oooooh! I also would kind of enjoy a gender-flipped version featuring Second Half of Mujhse Dosti Karoge Hrithik in the attic (Rochester is Tabu? Eyre is Amit Sadh?). Or, a gay version? (Rochester is SRK, Eyre is Shreyas Talpade, it’s the OSO/K3G reunion we always wanted!)

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          • Eh, I don’t know if Amit has the perfect fresh wholesome cleanness for a tutor straight out of religious school. Sid m?

            On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 4:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • No, Sid M. no. He is too handsome! Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre to prove that not beautiful girl can be a protagonist of the book. We can’t cast pretty face Sid!

            Amit doesn’t look like straight out of school but we can think about a reason for that. Maybe he had some problems earlier and finished a teacher course only now? That’s why this job, far from home is so important? Nobody wanted a male older teacher. Only Tabu, who didn’t care much, hired him. Man, I love this cast so much I’m sad this movie doesn’t exists 😦

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          • Maybe Amit has been teaching at his school? Maybe poor orphan unloved Amit is under a cloud, believed to be illegitimate or something? So he loses his teaching job at the only home has ever known (went there as a young charity student, graduated and kept teaching) and is excited about this new tutoring opportunity?

            On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 4:14 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Oh, books are definitely up there with the other two necessities.

    I guess anything Austen would always make a good Hindi movie. Though my favorite, Northanger Abbey, really needs to be a video game – with a gamer heroine who expects some gothic point and click adventure in the titular abbey, but really has to solve it all via social interactions. That doesn’t really scream India. Hmm. At least it didn’t so far. We could dial down the gothic part, make it more of an ancient haveli instead. No, that could actually work.

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  4. Sorry if this posts twice, my computer is acting up.

    I want The Woman In White. It’s basically a masala movie already, although it’s so specific in its racism against Italians I don’t know how you’d replicate that.

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    • Nigerians? There’s a thing now about Nigerian immigrants coming to India and starting up a whole mafia thing.

      And YES. I also want this. The whole marriage stuff would be such a close fit with current Indian society/laws. I mean, you could get a divorce, but it would be hard. And your family might never understand. My only problem is that our hero is such a boring dude in the book. We’d need to cast a really handsome, but dull, actor to play it. Sid M.?

      On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 3:43 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • So on your posts as well as on various wikipedia articles I keep seeing the reference to “hard to get a divorce,” and “___’s divorce finally came through” — are there more legal hurdles to divorce in India? I know *aspects* of divorce can become quadmires in the US, but if everyone agrees and isn’t fighting it literally is something you can pay a couple hundred dollars for and be done with. Just curious!!

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        • I am not a big expert in this, but there are a couple of issues that I can think of. First is just that Indian courts in general are terribly overburdened. Like, there literally are not enough lawyers and judges to handle things. Cases being delayed 5-10 years, even criminal cases, is not unheard of at all. So I think part of it might be that if you need a divorce judgement it just takes a while to get a court date. And also, there is maybe a societal reluctance that leads to a slower interpretation of the laws? So, instead of reading it as “divorce once both parties agree” it is read as “the judge orders you to go home and think about things for even longer and make sure you agree”. That’s in broad sweeps, but you get the idea, within the laws and legal process there are all kinds of places where a slow down can be inserted. Even your own lawyer (again, mostly this is based on movies, but movies that have gotten reviews and comments about how true they were to lived experience) will say “let’s set up another meeting for a week from now, see if you feel the same way, just go home and talk to your husband and I am sure you can work things out.”

          And there’s all the extra-legal pressure, your family will be trying to talk you out of it, and your friends, even people at your job might make it harder. Your landlord might give you a hard time about renting if you are divorced. Soooooooo many obstacles to overcome, I can see how it can quickly be overwhelming and just easier to separate and not make it official. And that’s with a no contest mutual divorce, you can imagine how much harder it can quickly become if one party wants to stay in the marriage and does everything they can to delay things.

          Alternatively, if your family supports you, and you get the right lawyer, and you have independent means, a divorce could be easy-peasy in and out I suppose. And I don’t know all the details, but I do know there are laws on the books for abused wives. If that is the case, there are special courts and quick judgements and good stuff. So long as you have the right lawyer to help you, and know your rights, and so on, which is the tricky bit.

          On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 9:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yeah but Nigerians aren’t secretly seductive with their cultural superiority and wonderful ancient civilisation to Indians, I think. I don’t know how they feel about Nigerian masculinity, that might be the right fit if India has the same insecurity about black masculinity Europe and the US have. It could work with old fashioned ideas about Muslims and Mughal culture, but not these days. Although maybe it could if you really went deep. Greeks? Russians?

        Yeah but nothing will ever make Walter interesting, so you just have to focus on Marian and Fosco and hope for the best. Sid M is such PERFECT casting for Walter I can barely stand it.

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        • What about just straight British? We could caste someone actually really good as Count Fosco instead of the normal Random White Dude actors. Heck, Karan Kapoor!

          On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 1:10 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yeah, I thought about that but then I thought no Indian person is going to secretly think English culture is superior. But I think you could do it, if you make it into a “tall pale superman with absolute pots of money and power and personal freedom” thing. Might do a good job of putting a finger on some hidden issues. Karan is perfect. Perfect!

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  5. I would love to see “Hero and the Crown” by Robin McKinley adapted into an Indian film set somewhere in South India, or perhaps The Chronicles of Prydain if they got the Baahubali treatment of being split into two or three movies. If I can’t have all of the Chronicles of Prydain then I’d want The Book of Three since it is the least “wait, did I miss something?” since it’s the first one.

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    • I just read The Blue Sword, I was putting off The Hero and the Crown because it would be so different and I wasn’t sure I would like it. But you say it is good?

      On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 10:11 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • It’s got an outcast/probably/definitely cursed main character, a country torn up by strife and now there are dragons that are getting more and more aggressive–and magic is probably a thing, but not really (cue mystery noises)–and it is set at a much different period of time than The Blue Sword.

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      • I meant to say, I’m so glad you liked The Blue Sword! The Hero and the Crown is very different, and much more English feeling. But the heroine is great so I think you would still enjoy it. And it happens before The Blue Sword, so you’ll get the fun of added context.

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        • I have read 5 books over the past two weeks, which has been great, but I am about to return to regular life where I only read about one book a month. Maybe I saw The Hero and The Crown for next month when I am up here again for another two month stretch?

          On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 12:13 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. In the spirit of Pride Week: the novel I finished recently, America Is Not the Heart, could totally be adapted as an Indian film. Check out this plot: our heroine is the daughter of an Important Family (one that came to its wealth through questionable means) who rebels in her teens by sleeping around and smoking and generally being a bad girl. She still makes it into medical school, following in the footsteps of an uncle she loves and admires, the other black sheep of the family and a kindred spirit. While in college she’s recruited into a revolutionary group, drops out of school, and joins a cadre in a rural mountainous area, where she lives as a field doctor for ten years, under the wing of a charismatic woman leader. This all happens in flashback. In the present, she is a new arrival at her uncle’s house in America, he has taken her in when her own family disowned her. Her uncle can’t practice medicine in America, the household is struggling, she steps in as primary caretaker to her difficult and charming 7-year-old cousin, to whom she grows very close. It slowly comes out that she was captured and imprisoned for two years, her hands damaged, and let go only when they figured out which family she belonged to. In the present she gradually makes a place for herself in the house (overcoming the resistance of her suspicious aunt), and learns that she is still worthy of love through her relationship with her young cousin and her romance with the young woman she meets in the neighborhood. As a final coming into herself, her uncle makes a bad choice and she has to accept him as a less than perfect human, and stand up to him when no one else will. So many juicy family dynamics!

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    • Ooooo, I like this! For a mini-series, perfect, keep it just like that. But for a movie, I might simplify it slightly. She is a rebel, she joins medical school, and then she doesn’t actually join the rebels and work as a field doctor, but she does choose to move to an extremely rural area where there is Naxalite activity and treats patients without asking where they came from just like the tough older doctor who started the clinic does. The local landowners drum up a vigilante group and the situation escalates until she helps a Naxalite leader escape after treating him and the drunk angry rich dudes show up right after and decide to take her captive instead. Hands damaged when they torture her to tell them where the Naxalite went, then kept in confinement in their house for weeks until they coincidentally realize she is from a “good” family and let her go, but with many threats about what will happen if she ever talks about what they did. She says nothing, the Naxalite band is save in the hills for now, and she knows the police and courts would take years to act if ever, so what’s the point? Her clinic is destroyed and she feels lost, goes back to the city and learns her family have caught some whiff of what happened and consider her “damaged goods”. Then goes to America to stay with the uncle. We can tease it out in nightmare’s and flashes at the uncle’s house, and then finally have a long flashback later in the film when we’ve already seen her hand damage and her PTSD and heard comments about her crazy years running a village clinic.

      Swara-Sonam? Swara as the heroine, Sonam as the girl next door?

      On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 12:31 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I’ve been thinking about this question for a while and I think the short story ‘The Witch of Duva’ by Leigh Bardugo could be a really cool bollywood film. The short story is in a collection of ‘fairy tales’ that are set in the Grishaverse which is a universe she created with a trilogy and two duologies (the six of crows duology is VERY GOOD). It’s like, in her novels characters might mention a fairytale in passing or w/e and Leigh basically went and wrote a bunch of stories for that world in the same way we have our snow whites and sleeping beauties. Like she wrote stories native to different countries in her grishaverse like Ravka and Fjerda and Novyi Zem

    https://www.tor.com/2012/06/06/the-witch-of-duva-a-ravkan-folk-tale/

    Obviously, this story has a lot of it’s own mythology but considering the vast mythology in India ANYWAY, it could be a really interesting story set in the past and it would be pretty dark, but considering the ending of this story made me immediately go back and read it again to see what hints i missed, it would be great to see it adapted on screen lol

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    • Oooo! I just read it, and it would be good, you are right! The “Evil Stepmother” trope is so ripe for a reimagining.

      On Fri, Jun 19, 2020 at 9:23 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. I can’t think why Jane Eyre hasn’t been adapted yet. Such a universal story! Another one I would be interested in is Wuthering Heights. I think it would be perfect for Bollywood.

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  9. Anyone who has read Gunaahon ka devtaa? It’s available in English too as Chander and sudha. The book, basically a love story by dharmveer bharti written just after independence, talks about physical vs platonic love. It’s still relevant in the present Indian scenario. The concept is not very new, but the way it was presented is something really fascinating.

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