The recent success of films inspired from books (2 States) has further strengthened the belief that adapting a bestseller into a film is a sure shot formula for success. However, there are several factors that are taken into consideration when turning the earmarked piece of literature into celluloid stories. The common notion that it is relatively easy to convert an already popular story into a screenplay is put to naught when the idea is discussed at the story table.
Also see: Books to Bollywood: 2 States, others
“One of the biggest challenges is to collapse a book into two hours, for a moviewatching experience,” says Supratik Sen, who worked on the screenplay of Kai Po Che (an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s Three Mistakes Of My Life) along with Bhagat, Abhishek Kapoor and Pubali Chaudhary. He further adds, “With the attention span that people have these days, you can’t have a long, preachy, never-ending movie. People don’t have the patience when watching a film; the kind which they have while reading a book.
So, a film has to be served to the audience in a certain way— packaged nicely, without losing the ingredients that you liked in the book.”
Most of Bhagat’s books (Five Point Someone, One Night At The Call Centre, Three Mistakes Of My Life, 2 States) have been made into films. “Books and films are different mediums, hence some variations have to be made, to suit the taste of the movie-goers. So many other things like locations matter when it comes to making a film,” says the author.
Fiction vs non-fiction
Adapting fiction books gives a better space to writers and film-makers to make changes and give a fresh take. When it comes to non-fiction books, there are many more challenges. Sanjay Gupta who directed and co-wrote the screenplay of Shootout At Wadala based on Hussain Zaidi's book, Dongri to Dubai, opines, “When you adapt a book, you have to find ways to communicate what a character is feeling and going through, because in the book, it's just a narration. I had adapted a non-fiction book, so I know it's a lot more challenging because you're literally breathing life back into the character. To recreate that time, space and characters is tougher. In fiction you can create your own world. With non-fiction there's also a risk of going into the documentary space, but as a film-maker it's my job to entertain