Literary adaptations on big screen have always been a tricky business. Across countries and languages there are numerous examples of how sometimes brilliant literary work has been reduced to mediocre movies (example from closer home: Mahashweta Devi’s Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa, filmed by Govind Nihalani), and how sometimes great literature has been made into even greater cinema (example from closer home: Bhisham Sahani’s Tamas, filmed again by Govind Nihalani). While bad literature can almost never be converted into good cinema, there are many good novels that have been made into forgettable films. But despite all that and more, literature continues to be an important source of cinema (the only exception perhaps is our own Bollywood which only rarely taps into India’s rich literary heritage but all the time lament about the lack of good stories, especially at (very often) times when it has to get ‘inspired’ by a foreign (read ‘mostly Hollywood’) film.
It is in this context that the recent series of DVDs brought out by Big Home Videos, under the title “Script to Screen”, makes for an interesting package. The package has 22 titles, and it’s an interesting mix of films, some of them probably the best ever made across genres. The stories of these films are so well known that they do not require re-rendering of even plot outlines here, and most of them have even cinematically excelled to warrant specific details. Of the lot, my picks are definitely A Beautiful Mind, Forrest Gump, Love Story, No Country for Old Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Out of Africa and The Day of the Jackal. Each one of them comes with a classic story, but what makes them special is that their directors have put their own distinctive touches into them, giving them a distinct identity of their own.
Full feature here Dear Cinema