‘Unblocking the creativity block’

Trying to cope with the dearth of interesting stories and scripts, Tamil cinema is increasingly resorting to the neighborhood for acquiring the rights of hit movies from Telugu and Malayalam. Remakes have quite become the order of the day and considering the hit rate, they are beyond doubt proving to be safe bets for the producers and distributors. Classic instances this summer are Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Santosh Subramaniam – both remade from their Telugu versions and ruling the box office collections right now across Tamil Nadu.

On the other hand, Kodambakkam hasn’t quite realized the impact of the story-crisis and seems to have settled down to the idea of remakes. The influx of remake movies, which more often than not prove to be hits, stand proof to this argument and are any day safe bets on the producers’ wallets.

Baring a few classical movies during the late seventies, Tamil cinema considers the idea of adapting a book into movie to be alien. More so since no attempts have been

made at successful adaptations of books. The simple fact is that it is easy to acquire remake rights rather than toiling over a book to prepare a script. Not that the modern Tamil literature scene is trite and does not provide enough fodder for the big screen. However, trendsetter in this arena would be Gandhi Krishna – the erstwhile assistant of director Shankar – whose ‘Anandha Thandavam’ is based on the book ‘Pirivom Sandhippom’ by late Sujatha.

Point in fact; there are many more Tamil authors whose works, if adapted, could prove to be commercial potboilers. We have authors ranging from crime novelist Rajeshkumar (who could well be termed as the South Indian Sidney Sheldon) whose novels that are quite page turners, pulp fictionists Pattukottai Prabhakar, Ramani Chandran, and Devi Bala, feminist Thilagavathi IPS, the profound Balakumaran, and legend Sujatha who brought science fiction into the Tamil living room.

Bollywood, however, is slowly embracing the culture of filming bestsellers. Although Devdas and Parineetha were adaptations of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s works of the same names, both were period movies and therefore not contemporary. Best selling author Chetan Bhagat has jumped into the scene by writing a script for his two novels Five Point Someone and One Night at the Call Centre. And if the directors and producers care to look around there are gems from authors such as Amitava Gosh (whose Calcutta Chromosome is a sure-thing sci-fi movie), Rohinton Mistry, Anitha Desai, and Upamanyu Chatterjee (whose English, August has already been filmed) waiting to be filmed.

In the West, almost every single movie has an influence of a book or is an adaptation of a book. Some of the great movies the world has ever seen were adaptations of books: the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Doctor Zhivago, Schindler's List, The English Patient, Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Harry Potter, and Jaws- to name a few. Likewise, the Godfather trilogy is considered a cult classic; hardly a handful would agree that the book was great.

Although there is no guarantee that great books make great movies, adaptations would most certainly provide respite for story-starved Kollywood. Not to mention, it would also prevent the more creative filmmakers from reaching out to DVDs on the shelves of shops or the Internet for inspiration.

Unlikely Kollywood Villains
Time to review freedom of expression!
‘Unblocking the creativity block’
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