Jane Austen Takes Bollywood

23 Jun
Jane Austen Takes Bollywood

The cringe-fest known as Bride & Prejudice aside, Jane Austen makes such a terrific fit for Bollywood, I find it surprising that Aisha – the upcoming remake of Emma starring Sonam Kapoor – joins rather thin company.

Besides, Gurinder Chaddha’s ode to Bollywood was only dubbed into Hindi and awkwardly at that.  The only successful adaptation so far that I can think of is Rajiv Menon’s Kandukondain Kandukondain in Tamil starring Aishwarya Rai and Tabu – and it laid an egg at the box office if I remember right. Maybe one of the other industries has had better luck?

The Brontes get a couple of Dilip Kumar (Sangdil based on Jane Eyre and the insufferable Dil Diya Dard Liya based on Wuthering Heights) and Rajesh Khanna movies (the yawnfest Oonche Log based on Dil Diya Dard Liya) while Austen can barely scrounge up a couple of Aishwarya Rai-starrers? The world is odd.

And now there’s Aisha, perhaps Abhay Deol’s most mainstream movie since his debut Socha Na Tha. Yay! I’ll admit to certain pangs after viewing this trailer right after the one for I Hate Luv Storys but I’ll give Sonam Kapoor the benefit of the doubt for now. After all, I’ve only seen two of her performances and one of them is invalid because Saawariya was all about Sanjay Leela Bhansali. In any case, there’s nothing wrong with being a one-note actor as long as you can find movies that cater to that one note. Please watch Knight and Day for a master class tutorial.

Meanwhile, thanks to Beth, I got a chance to have a little chat with Devika Bhagat (read my review of her TV show Mahi Way). Here she is on working for YRF, the benefits of having a woman in charge, how Abhay Deol makes things better, and – oh yeah – Matt Damon playing water polo. Ahem.

How much does the actual casting of your movies correspond with how you imagine your characters when you’re writing?

I have never written a screenplay keeping specific actors in mind. That would box the characters. (Once for a film that shall remain unnamed, the producer mentioned John Abraham’s name during the scripting stage for the male lead and after that whenever I would write the character’s scene, I would imagine him shirtless – not good!)
The only significant change was made in Manorama Six Feet Under. The main protagonist  Satyaveer, was meant to be a down and out 45 year old. But once Abhay Deol was cast, the age of the character was brought down to 30 and therefore changes had to be made to the script to fit a 30 year old in terms of the character’s cynicism and excess baggage!


Posted by on June 23, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Video


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17 responses to “Jane Austen Takes Bollywood

  1. shmehrotra

    June 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Abhay does make everything better. Yes indeedy. I’m going to have to watch “I hate..,” because some friends are going and must drag me there, but Im not looking forward to watching Sonam in anything. Aisha I’ll watch for Abhay. But who knows, one day Sonam may dazzle me with her acting and change my mind…or not 😀

  2. Awww's 10!

    June 23, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Bride and Prejudice, I probably watched a full five minutes of before a desperate urge to puke got the better of me. Kandukondein Kandukondein, otoh, is a masterpiece! There’s not one single misstep in that movie. I would watch it over and over and over again if I had the time. Rajiv Menon rocks! (And that egg it supposedly laid was a Golden dirty, gussied up in white. Poor box office didn’t know!) Aisha, I looked at the trailer at Adithya’s the other day and only one word came to mind — ‘anorexia’. Whatever happened to the gorgeous girl from Delhi 6? Just *who* is this ghost? Oh well, one can always watch it for Abhay I guess.

    And ‘Devika Bhagat’. Two words I’m hearing for the first time, today. Wow, so she co-wrote Bachna Ae Haseeno? I LOVE that movie. I had a feeling I was missing something when I failed to make time to look up Mahi Way on YT after your glowing reco, months ago, missy.

    I liked your interview of her. When you ask about new Bollywood forgetting the B-centers that drove old Bollywood, she says her rule of thumb is “forget the audience, follow the instinct” — Awww!

    And you report that she spoke two full sentences to Matt Damon IN PERSON?? Get. Outta. Here. Sure she peed in her pants! (Jealously gnashes teeth) 😛

  3. apu

    June 23, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for that interview, Ams! I’m so glad we could have it up at Women’s Web – I found Devika’s responses on the screenwriting process in Bollywood very interesting. (and of course, much jealousy at the Matt Damon bit :))

  4. M

    June 24, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Devika does sound an interesting person – I’ve seen one episode of Mahi Way, which I watched solely because of your review 🙂 But yeah, it was good.

    As for KK – I thought the final verdict was a hit after all? I know the producers did make (good) money off it 🙂


  5. Anonlee

    June 24, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Actually Kandukondain Kandukondain was a box office success in addition to garnering critical acclaim. The best Indian adaptation (or inspired by) movie of a Jane Austen novel.

    Sad to say but Aisha looks more inspired by Clueless than an original adaptation of Emma.

    BTW the Jane Austen Society loved both B&P and Kandukondain.

    • Devika B.

      June 25, 2010 at 6:41 am

      Hey Anonlee,
      I hope, that after you see the film, you change your mind…and I hope you feel I have done justice to Jane Austen. I have also added a sub plot from another Austen novel…and as an avid Austen fan, you will be able to pick it out immediately. So here’s hoping you ultimately think of it as an original adaptation and that the Jane Austen Society approves.

  6. Ramsu

    June 25, 2010 at 12:12 am

    If someone had to adapt Austen here, I figure Emma is among the best choices — it’s perfect rom-com material, and the twists and turns might well have been scripted by someone on the YRF/KJo payroll. Let’s see how well it turns out.

    Ah, didn’t realize that she wrote Manorama — I remember being quite impressed by that movie. It did reference Chinatown in some places, but had a lot more than just those references to offer.

    As for Matt Damon, I can imagine Sarah Silverman reading this interview and going, nyah-na-na-nyah-nyah, I did a lot more than that 😀

  7. DewdropDream

    June 25, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Abhay Deol. Yum 😀

    I loved Manorama Six Feet Under!

  8. Shrabonti

    June 25, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I had great expectations of Aisha (and no, that is not a clever classics pun) — I like Sonam Kapoor, I like Abhay Deol, and it’s a remake of Emma, how can they go wrong with that? I re-read Emma again recently, savouring each dialogue and delicious plot twist, and that made me look forward to this film even more. But having watched this trailer, my confidence is waning. Aren’t the people and sets too, too pretty? Isn’t the acting, well, a little flat?

    • Awww's 10!

      June 28, 2010 at 5:13 pm

      Shrabonti, I loved your clever classics pun (unintended as that was) and am impelled to respond in kind: I was taken aback by the tenderness in the taut screenplay Emma wrote for Sense and Sensibility (that I saw for the first time, Saturday). 😀

  9. red soul

    June 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    im loving the trailer

  10. Amrita

    June 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    @ Shweta – he does make everything magically better! You should join me in my Abhay mela-to-be!

    @ A10 – reason #196793 you should always listen to me! 😛

    @ Apu – my pleasure 🙂

    @ M – did it really make money? I don’t know where I got the idea that it hadn’t done well – that seemed to be the chatter and then Rajiv Menon never made another movie after that so I figured it must be true… glad to know that’s not true.

    @ Anonlee – I thought KK was as fab a movie as B&P was terrible and I’m glad it did better than I’d previously imagined.

    @ Devika – thanks for the interview! 🙂

    @ Ramsu – it’s a no-brainer for Bollywood, right? I say MOAR! I actually saw a BBC production of Mansfield Park a couple of years ago that was very interesting in that it played up the plantation angle. But the insufferable saintliness of Fanny Price also reminded me that here too is a heroine made for Bollywood.

    @ 3D – You know what I just realized? I’ve never reviewed an Abhay Deol movie on this blog. How did that happen? I shall have an Abhay Deol mela leading up to Aisha.

    @ Shrabonti – I’ll give it a chance. Austen once said of “Emma” that she was a character whom nobody but she herself would like so maybe your read is just right! 😀

    @ RSoul – the new one is even better.

  11. Sami Saayer

    July 2, 2010 at 5:47 am

    looks fresh from the trailer and abhay is the only deol who can act.
    i think im gonna watch it.

  12. Reema

    July 7, 2010 at 11:44 am

    hey didn’t u see her performance in Delhi 6?? Emma is my favorite Aisha sounds interesting..lets see.

  13. Amrita

    July 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    @ Sami – you and me both!

    @ Reema – yes, I did but all she did was be spunky and make faces. She didn’t exactly get to do much. But she was fine, proper diction and neither wooden nor trying too hard but if you take Saawariya out of the running that just gave me Delhi 6 to judge her as an actor and I didnt think that was enough. I have a better idea now after IHLS.

  14. neha

    July 9, 2010 at 2:04 am

    Very Good

  15. neha

    July 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    Nice posts topics are good

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