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How Tales Evolve Into Films

Ipsita Sengupta

By Vishwas Patil . Translated from the Marathi by Nadeem Khan 
Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2015, pp. 234, Rs. 595.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 9 September 2015

As laid out in the introduction to All Time Favorite Books and Movies and Their Epic Journey, Patil has picked some of his favorite stories of all time from literature and cinema and presented rich behind-the-scenes trivia. To these details are added opinions which reiterate his imagination of their ‘epic’-ness. The first section has a set of literary works with tales of their evolution into films, often via theatre, Othello, Anna Karenina, Tess, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Godfather, among others. For example, he brings to light an incident early in the life of Dosteovsky—of his narrow escape from the gallows—that few would have known. And then, he shares the fact of the original screenplay by Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj in 1922 that inspired Mughal-e-Azam (this is in fact the only Indian film in this section but that is not an important consideration here). The next section contains some works written about as stand-alone entities, such as Mother India, Lagaan, The Idiot, and others again discussed in the context of adaptations, such as Grapes of Wrath and Spartacus. For the size of the book, the selection seems quite eclectic in the geographical spread of its objects of study. Giving a summary of each literary or cinematic work that are clear and concise narrations especially for those who haven’t read the original texts, Patil follows with facts about the creation of the piece. The facts read more as trivia than history—they are a set of events leading up to the way the work turned out, and often sporadic, almost in a coffee-table manner of presenting. This seems all the more so because of the way he expresses how he finds each work. Patil’s appreciative assessment and perspective can be thought of this way for the design of the book is quite ingenious. It has animated visuals of film reels within frames the shape of letters of the alphabet. At first glance you may even remember tall straight concrete buildings with lights from windows—if seen through the alphabet frames. Similar to the height (and often status) of such imagined buildings, is the language of the author for the things he appreciates— full of superlatives and romantic descriptions of ‘greatness’ both of the makers and the products; hyperbolic outpourings of perceptions of grandeur that on the one hand connote a positive passion in the arts and other ...

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