The Storytellers Collective

The Storytellers Collective

An initiative aims to bring the literary and cinematic worlds together, for the love of stories

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Rupleena Bose, writer, in conversation with Siddharth Roy Kapur Tejinder Singh

In a bid to bridge the gap between authors and filmmakers, the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) — which organises the Mumbai film festival each year — had initiated the ‘Word to Screen Market’ project in 2016. Last week, a day-long “Bootcamp” was organised in Delhi as part of the initiative, where authors, publishers and filmmakers came together to talk about linking the two worlds.

Talking about the initiative, Smriti Kiran, Creative Director, MAMI, says, “The industry is constantly talking about a lack of stories, and books are a mine of stories. Unfortunately, what happens in the West has not happened in India, where every second film is adapted from a book. In India, we have 22 languages and a robust literary culture, why haven’t we looked at books?”

The event was meant to prepare the publishing and filmmaking communities for the next stage — “Market” — to be held on August 24 in Mumbai, where books will be pitched to content creators to be made into films and web series. The co-founder of the Delhi-based Yoda Press, Arpita Das, would be curating the books to be pitched to the producers. The first session of the day had Urmi Juvekar, screenwriter for films such as Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and Shanghai, explaining the nuances of the process. “A book may focus more on the internal world of the character, but for a movie, action is needed,” she said, adding that non-fiction books have a great potential to make good cinema or shows.

In the second session, French producer Isabelle Fauvel spoke about “Initiative Film”, a development lab she founded back home in 1993. Her team scouts material, develops concepts and conducts research that makes a key partner for literary adaptation of books for movies in Europe. “We consider adaptation as a process of adoption as movies in Europe are director-driven, if he doesn’t adopt the book, the movie won’t work,” she said. Anish Chandy from Juggernaut Books, who has finalised six book projects to be turned into movies and web series, spoke on various aspects of such deals. Chandy revealed that most of the stories he has sold rights of are either non-fiction and related to the armed forces.

In another session, filmmakers Vikramaditya Motwane and Siddharth Roy Kapoor spoke on the need to have agencies that could link the two worlds. “There are dedicated writer’s rooms in Hollywood and similar agencies, which we do not have here,” said Motwane. “We might think that a book or a short story would make into a good movie, but that cannot be the case. But at the same time, a movie can take the story of the book to another level,” said Roy Kapoor, talking about films such as Saat Khoof Maaf (adapted from Ruskin Bond’s Susanna’s Seven Husbands) and Kai Po Che, based on Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of My Life.