These days I have been watching some of the best movies of both Hollywood and bollywood (including non-Hindi movies also). Today I am thinking about the basic difference between our movies and Hollywood movies. Why we have never won the award for best foreign film in Oscars ? There may be many reasons for this failure. But I am going to point out the most significant one in these columns. Let’s take the list of top movies from Hollywood, The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Schindler’s List, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, To Kill a Mockingbird, Forrest Gump and Gone with the Wind. These are some of the finest movies of World Cinema. But there is one thing common in all these movies. What is that common thing ? All these movies are inspired from some novel or story.
- The GodFather — It is based on the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo. It is story of Corleone crime family and their enemies.
- The Shawshank Redemption — The Shawshank Redemption is based on the Stephen King’s novel “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”.
- Schindler’s List, a biographical film directed by Steven Spielberg, telling the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of over one thousand Polish Jews during the second world war. It was based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an adaptation of the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey.
- To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 Academy Award-winning film based on the novel of the same name by Harper Lee.
- Forrest Gump is a 1994 film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom.
- Gone with the Wind is a 1936 American novel by Margaret Mitchell during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. The novel won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning 1939 film of the same name
So all these movies were adapted from some of the best selling novels of their times. Even if we talk about Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings series, matrix series, they all are inspired from some literary works like fiction, drama, novel etc.
You must have heard the saying that “Literature is the mirror of the society”. The literature of a country is affected and influenced by how the people of that country live and behave. In USA, the film industry is greatly influenced by their society, culture, values, life-style etc so directors and producers prefer to adapt famous novels and stories in their movies. This is the reason why you will see most of the successful Hollywood movies are inspired from literary works. Now let us talk about India and Indian film industry. If you talk to some layman and ask about Indian movies he will tell you “Movies means action, violence, hero heroines dancing around trees, a rape scene of heroine by villain, 7-8 useless songs, sentimental dialogues between here and his mother, some case of lost and found, foreign trip of the characters etc.” This is all what we feel about Indian cinema. One thing I would like to add in this list is the deviation of Indian cinema from society, culture and values. In Hindi movies, you will see rich and stylish characters having pockets full of money, no tension of job or business, money is flowing from every side. But is it happening in India. Do they show the real picture ? The answer is NO. You can’t see the the real picture of India in its movies. I agree there are some exceptions but they are like drop in an ocean.
Why Indian Filmmakers do not get inspiration from rich Indian literature ? India glimpses its enrichment in art and culture by the scriptures and valuable books which were written by eminent writers such as Vyas (Gita), Charak (Charak Sahimta), Kalidas (Abhijnanshakuntalam), Valmiki (Ramayan), Tulsidas (Ramsharitmanas), Vishnu Sharma (Punchtantra), Kautilya (Arthshatra), Nehru (Discovery of India), Tagore (Geetanjali), PremChand etc. Even world’s two major epics Ramayan and Mahabharat are from our country. India’s literature enables us to compare with those foreign literatures that are considered enriched beyond expectation, for example Greek and English literature.
I have seen some good movies which are based on some literary works like the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray. In Hindi movies we have Devdas (not the new one), Angoor, Umrao Jaan, Shatranj Ke Khiladi, Guide, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Ma, Rajnigandha, Parineeta, Maqbool, Omkaara, Utsav Junoon, Mausam, Kalyug, Garam Hawa, Khushboo, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Teesri Kasam, Raincoat, Pinjar, Mother India, Amar Prem, Rudaali etc. But this list is very small. Still no Filmmaker in India is ready to make films on literary works of R. K. Narayan, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Raja Rao, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Chandra, Mukul Kesavan, Shashi Tharoor, Nayantara Sehgal, Anita Desai, Ashok Banker, Shashi Deshpande, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Bharati Mukherjee.
India is a land of 22 officially recognized languages, and a huge variety of literature has been produced in these languages over the years they why Indian film industry is not using this huge resource for making quality and world class movies. In my opinion filmmakers like Karan Johar, Subhash, Yash Raj banners should think in this direction. If Karan Johar will continue showing Shahrukh landing on the roof of the palace and coming out of helicopter to meet his mother, people will forget him after 5-6 years. Let’s forget Hollywood, simply take the example of Satyajit Ray, his finest movies are all based on literary works. That is why he is considered the greatest filmmaker of Indian Film industry. It’s my request to Indian Filmmakers to dig the Indian stories, novels and poems to get an idea of new script for their new film.