Tag Archives: cinema

13 literary writers who have adapted other people’s books for the screen

(From Literary Hub. Link to the complete article given below)

Hollywood has long been a mysterious place where literary writers can sometimes make a little extra money—sure, there’s the nice paycheck when their own work gets optioned, but as it turns out, movies actually need writers too! And sometimes literary writers are pretty darn good at writing movies (though sometimes, as you will see, they are not). After discovering this week that Aldous Huxley had written the screenplays for early film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, I got interested in what other literary texts (besides their own) literary writers had ushered towards the big screen. Here are some of my findings.

Aldous Huxley, most famous for his literature of dystopias and drug trips, wrote the screenplays for the first film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1940) and, with John Houseman and director Robert Stevenson, an early adaptation of Jane Eyre (1943). Not only that, but he might have been the screenwriter for Alice in Wonderland (this, of course, being quite a bit closer to the dystopia/drug trip fame). Knowing that Huxley was a massive fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Walt Disney contacted the writer in 1945 and commissioned a script for a combination live action and animated adaptation. He completed a draft, and the two icons worked on it together, but in the end Disney felt it was “too literary.” He was paid, and a wholly different and fully animated version (the one you know) was released in 1951.

As you probably already know, F. Scott Fitzgerald toiled away to little success (one friend compared him to “a great sculptor who is hired to do a plumbing job”) in Hollywood in the 1930s, and wound up with only a single screenwriting credit. I was tickled to learn that he had worked on a draft of the script for the adaptation of Gone With the Wind, for which, apparently, “he was forbidden to use any words that did not appear in Margaret Mitchell’s text.” His draft was rejected.

Read more at this Lit Hub link

A Journey to the Heart of Human Conflict: Three Screenplays and their Stories

The juxtaposing of prose and screenplay provides an absorbing ringside view of a maestro at work

MT is a one-man literary movement in the Malayalam language. The hundreds of thousands of gossamer words this 84-year-old literary phenomenon of Kerala has written since his teens is like a complex filter through which you can gaze at the Malayali and her contemporary predicament as she grapples to make sense of the persistence of the feudal past within the seductive embrace of the present.

Over the past six decades, MT taught the Malayali to look squarely in face of the multiple waves of Time she rides on and hear the plaintive sounds when they collide.

Eight major novels, 18 volumes of short stories, nine books of essays, 55 film scripts — and still going strong. You have to be a person of leisure to fully engage with the delights of this prodigious output. Of course, there would be many a Keralite of my generation who simply grew up with their literary consciousness drenched in the ink from his pen.

Giving offence

Predictably, the secondary literature around him — of reviews, interviews, critical analysis, academic and media overviews and translations — is almost of an industrial scale. It’s an avalanche. Whenever one has to write on MT, one is gripped by a sense of stunned paralysis — what more can one say on someone about whom everything significant has been already said.

But little of it captures his protean skill — the deft, surgical manner in which he dissects the middle-class Nair family to clinically expose its fears, anxieties, joys, arrogance, false pride, contradictions and its fatal nostalgia for its decadent past. He is like some in-house Balzac of the Nair community and every description of that caste, in his stories, perceptively foretells its conflicted future.

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Modern Burmese Literature — Its Background in the Independence Movement

FLASHBACK

A look at the history of modern Burmese literature from The Atlantic‘s February 1958 issue.

It was only in the 1920’s, when agitation for independence led to a national awakening, that Burmese classical literature came into the curricula of the schools and Rangoon University, and serious writing in Burmese was supported by the cultural leaders of the country.

We find the earliest examples of literature in the Burmese language in hundreds of inscriptions carved on stone which still survive from the kingdom of Pagan dating back to the eleventh century. Next we have books written on dried palm leaves, such as the Maniratanapum, a fifteenth-century collection of ancient traditions, or Bhikkhu Ratthasara’s Hatthipala Pyo, a long poem based on Jataka stories of the lives of the Buddha.

Nawadegyi and Natshinnaung were our great poets of the Toungoo dynasties, and the pandit Binnyadala has left us an exciting prose chronicle of the long struggle between the Burmese King of Ava and the Mon King of Pegu. Much of our history comes down to us from the Egyins, historical ballads that were sung at the cradle ceremony of a new-born prince or princess. Dramatic literature flourished at the courts of Ava and Shwebo, in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, with the themes for poetic plays drawn first from the Jatakas and later, through contact with Siam, from Hindu sources such as the Ramayana.

Our last dynasty had its court at Mandalay (1857-1885) and here were gathered poets, dramatists, and writers of chronicle. Their works were inscribed on heavy paper folios, folded in pleats, called parabaiks, and often were very beautifully illustrated in vivid color. (See Training Elephants, Plate 38 in the art section.) With the British annexation of Burma in 1885 came new forces which were completely to change the patterns of Burmese writing: the printing press and the influence of Western education and literature. Our classical dramas in court style gave way to plays for a less refined audience, and these, in turn, to popular novels based on Western models.

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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Jai Arjun Singh

DSC00174(1)Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

Clichéd but true: because I have to. Even if things had gone very differently for me (as they might easily have) and I had ended up working in a profession unrelated to writing, I suspect I would still have made notes, just for myself, in a little pad or on a blog every time I watched a film or read a book that stimulated me.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

Oh, there are always many writing projects on hand – I think of even a 1000-word review or an 800-word column as a project that one has to devote serious thought and effort to. But my latest book, published in September 2015, is The World of Hrishikesh Mukherjee: The Filmmaker Everyone Loves – it is a critical study of the director’s work, which is widely categorised as “middle cinema” or “middle-class cinema”. I found myself wanting to write about him because I properly discovered these gentle films relatively late in my life, and found myself unexpectedly drawn to many of them – to the ways in which they made little observations about the workings of a society, couched in simple, comforting narratives.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

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Online literature is inspiring top-grossing Chinese movies

If China’s film market is a flame burning bright, the country’s online literature is increasingly itsfuel.

The world’s second-largest film market, with a box office haul of $6.8 billion in 2015, ischurning out top-grossing movies inspired by popular novels published online.

As the self-publishing phenomenon has shaken up the literary scene in the West, writers inChina have increasingly eschewed conventional publishing models and found readers on theinternet. Online-only publishers have sprung up, and their releases are proving hugelypopular. Read more

India: ‘Cinema need not always depend on literature’

Speaking at the ‘My Literature, My Film’ event, organized by National Book Trust at the 15{+t}{+h} North East Book Fair, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Jahnu Barua, who are also very close friends, ended the centenary year of Indian cinema by urging youngsters to develop an interest in good literature and cinema. This, they said, will help them understand life and society better. Read more

Writer Hanif Kureishi on Le Week-End

Hanif KureishiHanif Kureishi and Roger Michell on Le Week-End: ‘We find each other very annoying’: The Telegraph

Roger Michell and Hanif Kureishi – both British and in their late fifties, but seemingly as different as could be – have maintained a close working relationship for the past two decades. Michell, a director whosefilms include Notting Hill and Changing Lanes, and Kureishi, the novelist who also wrote the screenplay for My Beautiful Laundrette, stay constantly in touch, and every so often make a film that is unmistakably their own.

Their first collaboration was in 1993, when they adapted Kureishi’s first novel for television, The Buddha of Suburbia, a semi-autobiographical account of a teenager with a British mother and a Pakistani father, growing up in south London and yearning for a life in the theatre. Read more

Veteran filmmaker on storytelling

Diipti Jhangiani in conversation with veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal in DNA

A few years ago I made a film, Welcome To Sajjapur, we had a peon at office, very bright, superb memory but he couldn’t read or write. I would write his letters sometimes, they were very formal, about the family etc. He went to his gaon (village) and got married. Now his wife could write. Being newly married her letters were very intimate, very private; her letters they were really meant for him, the poor fellow didn’t know how to read them. You can imagine! Sometimes I would read them for him, it would be in confidence, but what if it were read by somebody else? I was fascinated by this exchange and that’s how the story formed.

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From ‘Railway Aunty’ to B.A. Pass

There is a new film in India which is making waves, or at least, grabbing headlines due its adult theme and bold treatment.

Based on Mohan Sikka’s short story The Railway Aunty, B.A. Pass has been screened at prestigious film festivals, including Montreal World Film Festival, New York Indian Film Festival, Imagine India Film Festival in Spain, and Jeonju-South Korea.

Directed by Ajay Bahl, the movie on male prostitution features actors Shilpa Shukla and Shadab Kamal. It released on Friday.

The film has been presented and distributed by Bharat Shah. Rs. 2 crore reportedly went into the making of the film, and Rs. 1.5 crore was spent on marketing it.

More on the film here

Read Mohan Sikka’s story here