Adapting an idea
For me, agreeing for adaptation was never about the money, it was about the trust. When I agreed for my first adaptation three years ago, it was a handshake deal. I lived my childhood in Mumbai, Bombay then, which has given me a lot as a person. For me, making a film was like completing a full circle because this book and story was born here.
Getting it right
I think adaptation is superb if done in a right way. If you look at the career paths of filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, he has adapted Rabindranath Tagore, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay among others. As a film buff, I could say that if not more, Ray’s films were equivalent to the novels and did complete justice to their prose. They are extraordinary adaptations. Pathar Panchali — the film is different from the novel. The novel is much harsher whereas the film is more poetic and light. Even if the matter is changed, it looks beautiful. The thing about adaptation is that most of the people get it wrong, but when they get it right, there is nothing like it.
I am a very tough critic of myself and my entire life, I have been doing it alone. But getting along with Deepa made collaborations a lot more fun for me. Deepa’s experience as a director is the mirror of my experiences as a writer. Most importantly we laugh at the same jokes. (laughs)
We live in a cerebral age of film critics. These days the reviews are written from the brains and not from the heart. If you trace the history of epic films you will find that the emotions have always been on the forefront. Look at David Lean’s Passage to India, which is not one of his best films but is so emotive and is better than the novel. A lot of people writing reviews these days write them keeping certain theories and technicalities in mind. That makes a film technically sound, but it talks less about its emotional popularity.
Next is acting!
I am all up for acting next. When Deepa wanted me to be the narrator of the film I was a little skeptical about it but she pushed me into it. I did it and I
wasn’t embarrassed to hear it back myself. For me embarrassment is an infallible test.