Word to Screen: Mutually sustaining bond between literature, cinema (Cinema Feature)

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Mumbai : The relationship between literature and cinema is mutually sustaining, say authors and filmmakers, who are sure the search for new and good content will lead to books.

The 20th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star brought the third edition of "Word To Screen Market" here aiming to become a common platform for authors, publishers, writers, directors and producers to exchange ideas and explore business opportunities.

"It is a win-win situation where the authors and publishers who are struggling to get a wider reach with their stories, get a chance to pitch stories to film studios as potential film story material.

"On the other hand, content creators are always struggling with new and good content for their projects, whether it is a film or web series. Word To Screen Market is bridging that gap. Also, publishers get an acquisition cost and the book gets huge mileage if a film is made out of it," Filmmaker Kiran Rao, chairperson of Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) Mumbai Film Festival, told IANS here.

Author Anita Nair cannot but agree. "With the growing digital platform that demands good stories and content, the possibility of adaptation of books into audio-visual story -- be it film or web series -- is increasing. I see it as a mutually sustaining relationship between authors, publishers and filmmakers."

Nair feels when a story is selected from the framework of a book as opposed to a story of a film for scripting, the scriptwriter gets a lot more details of the world of the story.

"The picture is much clearer... already in the story," said the writer of books like "The Better Man", "Ladies Coupe", "Mistress", "Lesson in Forgetting Idris" and "Cut Like Wound".

Filmmaker Kabir Khan, too, agrees. "We are almost getting a ready story that needs to be just scripted if (the story) has the potential to make a film. And a story cannot be limited to a region... If it has a universal appeal, it will travel," he said.

However, he also pointed out the challenges.

"Since it is a change of medium, an adaptation of a book into a film comes with a challenge. Two storytellers are involved in the process -- one who wrote the book and the one who is translating that into a film.

"The challenge is to maintain that essence of the story in the film," said the "Bajrangi Bhaijaan" director.

Nair stressed that while there is an "intangible element" that intrigues a filmmaker to make a film, an "artistic integrity" needs to be maintained.

"If you lose the essence of the story in the film, that is tragic for the author, really," she added.

While books offer good stories to filmmakers, the process of translating it to film is not as simple as it sounds. Said Rucha Pathak, the Chief Creative Officer of Fox Star Studios: "Turning a book into a script is really time-consuming and, as a studio, we really invest in writing. The process is not as easy as it looks just because we are getting a ready story."

Citing an example, Pathak said: "We took four years to write the script of 'Kizie Aur Manny', the Hindi remake of 'The Fault In Our Stars' to get it right. But I must say that an initiative like Word to Screen Market is really bringing the world of cinema and literature together, and I am enjoying how it's growing with each passing year."

Does the dazzle of cinema overpower the world of literature in such collaborations?

Emphasising on the aspect of mutual respect, Nair said: "Since the idea is to complement each other in the collaboration, I think respect for the book is important.

"The filmmaker and actors should aim to make the best possible film out of the book rather than overpowering the book with commerce and marketing. If the story gets respect, the author gets her due."

(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at arundhuti.b@ians.in )