1. This is your first try at being a screenplay writer. Did the idea of adapting your book for the screen appeal?
It was very different. Everything depicted has to be spoken. In a screenplay, dialogues have a much larger role to play but briefer as much more can be shown through elements such as music, cinematography and so on. Looking back at the filming process, it wasn’t a completely energising experience. A lot needs to be thought about what is permissible and what isn’t. Regarding the adaptation, I was a little unsure since I’ve never done this. Also, while adapting a novel into a film, you lose textual value — precisely the reason why I insisted that I would be the right person to salvage it rather than someone else who does not know the words or the feel that is there in the novel. But being new I decided to give it a shot. Plus, I am a great movie buff. So perhaps after watching so many films you get an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
2. Why make the film in English? What do you think of the current state of Indian films in English?
The decision to make the film in English was completely the production guys’ call. Regarding Indian films in English, I have seen so few and cannot even recall a single one of them. I don’t think I have liked any at all.
3. Do you think films in India are ready to be made in English and have a dedicated audience for them? What response has the film has evoked since its release?
I’m not quite sure. Most people who go for the mainstream film experience don’t want to think at all. For the past three-four months, I’ve been religiously going to the theatres every Friday and observing the audience. Regarding the response to the film adaptation, some liked it very much while others weren’t too happy. This happened since certain stronger elements haven’t surfaced in the film. There are two parallel stories in the film — Meera and JAK. With every discussion with the director, Meera’s story got smaller. Another instance is that the film has the metaphor of cyclone that has been missed completely. Regarding future films, I am already in discussion for a film on my latest novel, Cut Like A Wound, that will be done in a regional language, as my novels are more about rural India. Besides, English from the mouth of a maid just sounds wrong.
Last Friday, Anita Nair’s scripted National Award winner, Lessons in Forgetting (adapted from Nair’s eponymous novel), hit mainstream theatres.