It is a special moment for Chandigarh-based author Khushwant Singh, whose book Maharaja In Denims, based on Maharaja Ranjit Singh, will be made into a film.
Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment and Amaryllis: An Imprint of Manjul Publishing House on Wednesday announced the optioning of film rights of the book.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had released the book in 2014 in Chandigarh. Khushwant, who also wrote the biography of Captain Amarinder Singh (The People’s Maharaja), and is currently the State Information Commissioner, Punjab, said that Bollywood had always shown keen interest in adapting Maharaja in Denims as a film.
“But Guneet Monga buying the optioning rights is a huge fillip in the journey of the book. She is a very dynamic producer with the right sensibilities to handle such a book. The movie, as and when it is released, will help people understand the experiences that Punjab went through, as well as help them understand the region and its community in proper perspective,” the author said, adding that he is honoured and thrilled with this development.
Maharaja in Denims is a historical fiction. The story is an intriguing narrative of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, seen through the eyes of a teenager called Hari, who believes he is a reincarnation of the Maharaja.
The story juxtaposes two eras — the glorious rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and contemporary India. Hari becomes a bridge connecting the historical, spiritual and political history of the past and present-day Punjab.
Monga, founder of Sikhya Entertainment, said, “This is a story which shows Punjab from a fresh lens. The landscape is so rich in history, much more than just the Partition stories that we have seen in the mainstream cinema so far. It would be exciting to see the celebrated Maharaja Ranjit Singh through a millennial’s lens. The story has potential to make a captivating experience with its compelling narrative and portrayal of the richness of the era.”
Known in the industry for producing acclaimed films like Gangs of Wasseypur, The Lunchbox and Masaan, Guneet feels Khushwant’s novel transgresses multiple eras and poignantly and boldly describes the tale of the then and now.
Rashmi Menon, managing editor at Amaryllis, said that Maharaja in Denims is like a Kohinoor in the list of books that Amaryllis has published.
“We knew that this book is a classic in its own way and that it was destined to travel beyond bookshelves. A brilliantly constructed plot, a layered narrative, and characters and situations that will keep you wanting to know more, this book is a page-turner. But what distinguishes it is the way it packs in significant parts of Punjab’s history into a story that can be enjoyed by a large audience. With Guneet Monga’s artistic expertise, this book is sure to become a perfect cinematic experience for an intelligent, fun-loving audience.”
Khushwant believes the book has come to the right person, as Guneet’s work is dynamic and brings a new energy to cinema.
“Her work is explorative and not clichéd. I trust Guneet with the book, for it needs to be handled well, and I am excited to see how it will go forward. For me, as an author, it is one step forward, for the story will be showcased through a cinematic experience and reach out to wider audiences,” Khushwant said.
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