Bollywood has always been on the lookout for inspiration and books have proved to be the premier ‘muses’ in this case. Many a famous film has been, well…filmed on the strong base of a book, be it Devdas in the 1950s and 2000s, or the many remakes of Romeo and Juliet in different parts of India (Gujarat- ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela… Ram-Leela’, Goa- ‘Ek Duuje Ke Liye’, UP- ‘Ishaqzaade’, ‘Issaq’… the list goes on) and this age old tradition shall continue. But we must look for new fodder, after all people do get tired of Romeo and Juliet. So here’s mentioning some amazing Indian novels that would make for great Bollywood potboilers:
• A Suitable Boy: Indians are obsessed with arranged marriage! Right from the aunty living in your saamne waali khidki to the nukkad ka chai-wala to various comedians on YouTube, everyone has an opinion on the matter. The overall theme for this 1500 pages+ tome by Vikram Seth is Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s quest for a suitable boy for her youngest offspring, Lata. Issues such as Hindu-Muslim strife, class and caste struggles and problems faced by the first government of India form the backdrop of the story and are described in vivid detail. Apart from the fact that Indians will watch any film which has ‘Dulhaniya’ (see DDLJ and HSKD) in its title, the supporting characters have their own quirks and will make for an interesting watch, provided a great ensemble cast can be managed.
• A Sea of Poppies: Colonial India+opium trade+aspirations+deceit+an adventure aboard a ship=an interesting read and an even more interesting plotline! The first in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy traces the lives of a motley group of people including an opium peasant, a rajah, a mulatto and a feisty French girl who set aboard a ship to Mauritius to fulfill their goals. On one hand the book puts forth an awe-inspiring idea and has a good chance of being successful as a film, considering we Indians have shown an affinity towards films based on notorious trading of commodities like coal. However, on the flipside one may consider the fact that it might not result in the perfect masala blockbuster suited to all tastes.
• The Bhairav Putras: The freedom movement has inspired many films like Lagaan, Rang De Basanti and Chittagong among others which have gone on to become super-duper hits and have garnered much critical acclaim. The Bhairav Putras by Suhail Mathur may not be the best read that one may come across from a literary point of view, but it holds promise when it comes to delivering a power packed punch to the imperialists. Filled with gutsy rebels, tyrannical British officers and a touch of supernatural, The Bhairav Putras is a blockbuster in the making.
• Shantaram: Shantaram doesn’t exactly qualify to be on this list, since it is written by an Australian, Gregory David Roberts. However, bearing in mind that he got the name Shantaram from one of his dear friend’s mother, some cheating can be done to accommodate the book here. There is an uncanny life-like quality to the writing and a few chapters into the book and you’ll feel you’re actually sitting in Dharavi sipping tea with the other slum dwellers, or preparing to guard your turf with the street-fighters and bhai log of the Mumbai mafia. It has got all the elements of a blockbuster- action, romance, tragedy, deceit and you can easily fit in a cabaret number somewhere in this 80s novel.
• Those Pricey Thakur Girls: Anuja Chauhan’s books have always been snapped up by producers for their masala-bollywood content and this one isn’t far behind. It takes you into the simple world of the 80s where love was sweet, simple and unspoiled by the likes of social networking apps and instant coffee attitudes. As always, the female protagonist is confronted by the tall, dark and handsome guy who is somehow intrigued by our plain Jane and wishes to love her forever and ever till the end of eternity. Unlike Chauhan’s other books, ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ lays comparatively low on the mush content and includes hard- hitting facts about the 1984 riots in Delhi. All in all, it’s a wholesome love story, which should be grabbed immediately by the likes of Karan Johar and churned into a rom-com.
• The Krishna Key: if Hollywood can have ‘Angels and Demons’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Bollywood can have its adaptation of the Krishna Key. Indians haven’t seen a proper historical adventure since god knows when and this gripping tale by Ashwin Sanghi is a sure winner. Get Shah Rukh Khan to essay the role of a mystery solving professor and you’ll get another addition to the Bollywood-teachers-who-make-you-go-weak-in-the-knees list (currently topped by Sushmita Sen in a red saree).
• Turbulence: THIS is India’s answer to X-Men, not Kaal’s manvar army from Krrish3! (On second thoughts it has a more Avengers like feel) Samit Basu’s sci-fi mystery has a set of passengers who board a plane from London to Delhi, only to realize they’ve somehow been ‘bestowed’ with odd superpowers when they land. Now they are expected to join hands and combat a shady villain in order to save the day. There’s Aman, a technopath(he controls technology, for all those who don’t know), Uzma, a Bollywood struggler who can make people do what she wants and Tia, a young woman who can be at multiple places at the same time, among other characters. It’s the basic superhero plotline, but the superpowers are quite interesting and with proper VFX can manage to rake in the money.
• How To Become A Billionaire By Selling Nothing: The protagonist Jhunjhunwala has an almost Chulbul Pandey-ish personality-He’s brash, lovable and ultimately takes the bad guy down, in style. However, the scope for his shirt coming off might only be in a dream sequence, nowhere else, but we can deal with that to some extent. The basic storyline is that of a stock market baron who is befuddled when he comes up against a wily but moronic entrepreneur who wants to sell nothing. This book by Aditya Magal can prove to be one of the biggest comic capers India has ever seen.
• Sacred Games: A cop- an underworld don and a tussle to outwit each other! In the dirty streets of Mumbai, Sartaj Singh, a Sikh police officer tracks down the don Ganesh Gaitonde and his G- Company. One might look at this saga written by Vikram Chandra as typical Ram Gopal Verma material, only this time it’s from the police’s point of view.
• She’s A Jolly Good Fellow: With the onset of female oriented films like Kahaani, Queen and the upcoming Mary Kom biopic in recent times, Sajita Nair’s ‘She’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ is definitely a good recipe for Bollywood success. Tracing the lives of two diametrically opposite female army lieutenants, Deepa Shekhar and Anjali Sharma(you really want to cast Kajol for the role since it’s an Anjali) it covers their struggles in the army, their differences with each other and the choices they make. Strong female actors like Vidya Balan and Kangana Ranaut can handle this gutsy tale. Jai Hind!
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.