Last week, I went to the theatre to watch a much awaited movie – ‘The Namesake’. For it was based on a book which I had much appreciated and liked – for its characters, the story, the thought and a lot of small details.
As the movie began, a hint of dis-satisfaction began to seep in as a lot of finer points of the story remained elusive. I tried to be tolerant and waited for the better parts to arrive. Of course in vain. The movie-maker had decided well in advance that she will keep the levels low. Not only did each character remain on the edge and slightly blurred, the dull lighting and lack of sound ensured that no life was breathed into the plot.
I came out sad and disappointed, and a little annoyed at Jhumpa Lahiri for letting her book come to this. If I as a reader felt so strongly against the pale coloring to the book, as an author she should have been aghast and absolutely forbidden this fate.
But surprisingly, that is a fate that meets a lot of good, well-written books. Enthusiastic readers line up at the theatre to meet a disfigured, paler, misjudged version of their book and go back disappointed. We have as examples ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Catch 22’, ‘Chocolat’, ‘Pride and prejudice’, ‘Dracula‘, and an endless list to follow where much appreciated books were brought to a naught by their cinematic version. Why do authors goof up so often in selecting the movie-makers who can do justice to their beloved brainchild? Do they have no say in the way their book is shaped by these buyers and presented to the whole world?
Of course there are some books that have been beautifully pictured. These can perhaps be counted on fingers. How many ‘Godfather’s, ‘LOTR’s, and ‘To kill a mocking bird’s do we come accross? Perhaps the timeless status attained by these movies is what inspires an author to bring his book to screen. If only he would not get carried away and make the selection wisely.
So, this is a plea from all agitated readers, to all the authors whose works are well appreciated by a lot of devoted readers – please do not sell your bookrights to movie makers. And if you do:
1) Please do so only to the most sensitive directors, and
2) Keep a tab of where he is taking your book
Hoping to see an intact version of Shantaram! Mr. Johny Depp, please do have mercy on the huge fan club of the book.