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Interpreter of Maladies’ silver screen version to be screened at NFDC’s Film Bazaar

Amitav Kaul’s adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning Interpreter of Maladies is one of the 32 projects at the NFDC Film Bazaar this year.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul |
Updated: October 14, 2014 3:07:33 pm
Amitav Kaul (left); Jhumpa Lahiri. Amitav Kaul (left); Jhumpa Lahiri.

In 2003, Amitav Kaul caused quite a stir when he announced his intention to adapt Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies. He has worked hard on this dream project since then, attempting to raise enough money so the film can be made at a scale that he believes it deserves.

Finally, the film has taken the first crucial step forward towards completion — it has been shortlisted by National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) for their co-production market, Film Bazaar, to be held in Goa this November. “It started to come together last year during pre-production. We have since been working towards getting the right partners on board to finance the film,” said Kaul, adding, “The great thing about the co-production market is that it helps you find partners who share your vision.”

Since the book comprises nine short stories that are independent of each other, adapting it to the screen, Kaul admits, was a big challenge. The book that was published in 1999, charts emotional voyages of Indians and Indian Americans torn between the new culture they are surrounded by and one they have grown up with. In the film adaptation, he says, the stories that are set in Kolkata and Boston will be linked. “The stories that unfold over three days have characters that are connected — they will either be related to each other or be separated by three degrees,” says the US-based filmmaker, who is yet to finalise the key cast.

NFDC has finalised 32 projects which will be represented at the eighth edition of Film Bazaar, to be held from November 20-24. The selection was a four-month process and was based on the quality of the script. It also required the makers to ensure that 25 per cent of the film’s funding was already in place.

A spokesperson from NFDC said that the proposals have had diverse themes and 14 of the shortlisted scripts are international. “We’ve had submissions from the US, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, France, Afghanistan and Norway among others, but all the stories are essentially South Asian.”

Some of these shortlisted projects include The Judgement by Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar who earlier made Khamosh Pani with NFDC, Nila Madhab Panda’s Blossoms, playwright Mohit Takalkar’s Medium Spicy and Amit Datta’s The Invisible One. The number of entries submitted has increased marginally, from 100 to 103, but the quality of scripts have gotten better too, say NFDC officials. They believe this tough competition will help attract stronger partners to the Film Bazaar in the future.

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