I find adapting a book easier, says filmmaker Sriram Raghavan

Mumbai, Sep 27 (PTI) Filmmaker Sriram Raghavan believes bringing alive a book on the big screen is a far easier process than coming up with an original story which takes time.

In his career, the acclaimed director has tackled two book adaptations — 2007’s “Johnny Gaddaar”, which was based on French novel “Les mystifi s”, and “Badlapur”, adapted from Italian novel “Death’s Dark Abyss”.

At the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival’s panel discussion, titled ‘Adaptations – the Stories We Choose to Tell’, Raghavan said he reads a lot of books which helps him during the writing process.

“When I try to write my own stories they take time, sometimes they get stuck at some point and you are not able to move ahead. So, I find adapting a book a far easier thing because the basic material, the kernel or the premise is strong enough that it attracts me. Then the rest is my work, at least I know I’m not inventing things. So, I read as much as I can,” the filmmaker told reporters here.

Raghavan revealed that his next feature film, “Merry Christmas” starring Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sethupathi, is based on a novel. The director, however, didn’t name the book.

“This is (based on) a novel. I can’t reveal the name, but it is there in the film’s credit. We have taken the rights. What I liked about it is there in it (film),” he said about the movie which will come out in theatres on December 15.

The 60-year-old director believes it is important to ensure that the core substance of the story is not lost when turning a book into a movie.

“The film also has to work with people who have read the story so you try and see what you can do without disturbing the essence of the book. Me and a couple of friends check what is being published, some are old books. So, I do a lot of research trying to find stories,” he added.

Raghavan further said that he was keen to adapt Vikas Swarup’s novel “Q&A” and Hussain Zaidi’s “Mafia Queens of Mumbai” for the big screen.

Both the books were made into feature films Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama “Gangubai Kathiawadi”, starring Alia Bhatt.

“I wanted to do Mafia Queens’ but it was done. Then Vikas Swaroop’s book, ‘Q&A’, when I read the book I loved, and went to meet him, and he said, The rights are sold’. So, it is not that I don’t like Indian stories, it’s just that I have not found an Indian book to adapt. I’m sure it will happen.”

Film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur said there is a dedicated team at his production banner Roy Kapur Films that identifies books which have the potential to be turned into films or shows.

“What our team does is we have a whole lot of books coming, so you have someone to identify whether something should be adapted (to screen) or not. A book can be daunting because it can be longer read so a lot of things fall through the cracks, a lot of very interesting material falls through the cracks.”

Zaidi, one of the most prolific crime writers, is best known for his books such as “Black Friday”, “Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia”, “My Name is Abu Salem” and “Byculla to Bangkok”, among others. Many of his books have been turned into movies and shows.

The author said that he never writes a book with the idea of turning it into a feature film.

“Real-life incidents are very interesting and there are films and series being made on it but a writer should not write keeping this in mind that they will be adapted. To write it with that intention is not a nice thing to do,” he said.