Shaktimaan, Agatha Christie, The Comedy of Errors … inspirations galore as filmmakers move beyond the usual!

Clearly, the Indian film world – especially Bollywood – seems keen on serving up a variety to its audiences now, vis-à-vis inspirations for fresh storylines. So, be it plays, television shows, international cinema or literature, a number of unique adaptations are in the offing. For starters, filmmaker Rohit Shetty and actor Ranveer Singh are set to team up on Cirkus, based on William Shakespeare’s classic play, The Comedy of Errors. Then, filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, who had had a pronounced stint with Shakespeare’s works till date, has had plans to adapt the Bard’s Twelfth Night, as a part of the trilogy based on Shakespearean comedies.

A FRESH TAKE

That’s not all. Of late, there have also been talks about bringing back iconic TV shows such as Shaktimaan (in the form of a trilogy) and Captain Vyom (five-part film, and five-part web series) on the 70mm screen. While Shaktimaan’s original creator-actor, Mukesh Khanna is “kicked about bringing back” his show “since an entire generation has grown up with it”, Captain Vyom director-producer, Ketan Mehta feels “glad that with India entering the space age, his show is being reinvented for the new age as a big screen spectacle, with cutting-edge visual effects, for a global audience.”

Not just plays and TV shows, a variety of literature – including much-revered mythological tales – too is inspiring filmmakers / storytellers. So, if Aamir Khan is reportedly set to work on a Mahabharat adaptation for an OTT platform, Ramayana is also getting multiple modern-day versions, including one to be helmed by Dangal maker, Nitesh Tiwari. Vicky Kaushal is set to team up with his Uri: The Surgical Strike director, Aditya Dhar on an actioner, The Immortal Ashwatthama. Plus, Deepika Padukone is readying to play Draupadi in a film adaptation of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s book The Palace Of Illusions.

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In #TheWhiteTiger, I play the role of Pinky madam, who is a first generation immigrant in the US. She is in India with her husband, who is travelling for business. And then… life changes! Pinky madam is such a specific character, to play her unravelling in the story was such a joy. This is a story that needs to be told and it comes alive with its characters so compellingly in Ramin’s hands. The White Tiger, coming soon to Netflix globally. 📸- @khamkhaphotoartist @netflixfilm   @netflixqueue   @netflix_in   @gouravadarsh   @rajkummar_rao   @vjymaurya @maheshmanjrekar @mukul.deora   @Ava   @purplepebblepictures    @tessjosephcasting @tessjoseph19 @srishtibehlarya #AravindAdiga

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UPHILL TASK

While Deepika calls Draupadi “the role of a lifetime”, adding that “telling it with a fresh perspective will not only be interesting but also significant,” Kaushal feels the “charm lies in becoming part of an era that one hasn’t lived through but only heard about in stories.” According to industry insiders, going for “a book adaptation is can be an uphill task.”

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Saeeda and Maan.. #asuitableboy @netflix_in

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“Filmmaking, in itself is extremely tough. And so, things aren’t easy if there’s an extra layer of challenge of book adaptation. A number of times, we don’t go ahead with such adaptations despite loving the basic idea because the narrative, or characters don’t work out well enough,” says producer Kumar Taurani, who has acquired adaptation rights of a new book, Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage that Shook India.

GOING OUT-OF-THE-BOX

Still, the lure of printed words is too hard to resist for makers. Bhardwaj is set to adapt renowned British mystery writer, Agatha Christie’s works into a film franchise for desi audiences, while Mira Nair has just come out with a screen version of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. “Agatha Christie had a tremendous skill of defining emotional chaos, dysfunctional relationships and the turmoil in her characters while engaging us in a riveting mystery,” says Bhardwaj, whose Kaminey and 7 Khoon Maaf heroine, Priyanka Chopra Jonas has adapted Aravind Adiga’s bestseller, The White Tiger into a feature film, starring herself and Rajkummar Rao.

Besides, author Amish Tripathi’s various works including Suheldev: The King Who Saved India is set for big screen adaptations. Also, Vidya Balan has been working on the screen version of journalist Sagarika Ghose’s Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister for some time now. For experts, it’s all about “going out-of-the-box and breaking mould.” “Without taking anything away from our tried-and-tested formulas, in today’s times, there’s always need as well as space for interesting, newer themes to attract audiences, especially younger ones,” concludes trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Foreign films’ desi versions!

Forrest Gump: The Aamir Khan-starrer Laal Singh Chaddha is an Indian version of Tom Hanks’ classic.

The Intern: Deepika Padukone is likely to star in, and produce the Hindi adaptation of Anne Hathaway-Robert De Niro starrer 2025 hit.

Rambo: Tiger Shroff will be reprising the lead part in the desi version of Sylvester Stallone’s cult action franchise.

The Girl on the Train: Parineeti Chopra is set to be seen in the Indian adaption of 2016 thriller featuring Emily Blunt.

The Terror Live: Kartik Aaryan and filmmaker Ram Madhvani are believed to be teaming up on the Hindi remake of the hit Korean flick.

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