Utpal Borpujari

January 31, 2009

Adiga’s The White Tiger may soon roar on big screen

By : Utpal Borpujari


Even as Danny Boyle’s Oscar-nominated Slumdog Millionaire continues to face criticism from some quarters for its “poverty porn peddling”, one might see The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga’s Booker-winning treatise on the underbelly of India, on the big screen soon.


The chances of Adiga’s novel, a story of an “India that is two countries in one: an India of Light, and an India of Darkness”, being picked up by a top-notch international director has increased manifold with the Berlin Film Festival picking it up as one of the 12 books that have “high screen adaptation potential”.


The selection includes a variety of subjects genres – “there is something for every producer interested in literary adaptations, and for every budget range: from a love-struck superhero in Bologna to an inconceivable crime in New York in the 1960s, from the adventures of an 18th century female pirate to the slums of Bangalore, or from Bulgaria to Hawaii”, as the festival organisers have put it.


The White Tiger and the other selected books will be presented at the “Books at Berlinale” event of the 59th edition of the festival beginning February five, all of them to be pitched in front of international producers. The programme will be part of the Berlinale Co-Production Market.



“The 12 new books will be presented, all selected for their high screen adaptation potential…This allows producers to talk directly with film rights holders about the material they are interested in,” the festival has said.


Michael Portillo, chairman of the five-member judging panel for the Man Booker Prize, had been criticised by many for saying after declaring Adiga as the winner that “what set this one (The White Tiger) apart was its originality. For many of us this was entirely new territory — the dark side of India”.


The event, being held for the fourth year in a row, is the result of a cooperation between the Berlin Film Festival and the Frankfurt Book Fair.


“The books to be presented are all bestsellers, award-winners, or brand-new publications, meaning that the producers also have the exclusive opportunity to secure film rights early, before the book hits the market,” a festival announcement said. “The books selected combine literary quality, popular success and a high screen adaptability.”


Among the other books selected are He Who Walks on Lava by Reinhard Stöckel, Drowned by Margriet de Moor, Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar, Is this the Way Women die? by Didier Decoin, Éditions Grasset & Fasquelle, Queen of the Seas by Katja Doubek, Four Days in March by Jens Christian Grondahl, Whom the Gods Destroy by Gianluca Morozzi, and The Angel’s Exile by Gilles Legardinier.


(Published in Deccan Herlad, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 31-01-2009)



January 30, 2009

Mangalore pub attackers and Al Qaida are the same : Nadeem Aslam

By: Utpal Borpujari 


“The right wing Hinduvta organizations who claimed responsibility for the attacks on a Mangalore pub are no different from Al Qaida in at least one aspect – they constitute a tiny minority that has nothing to do with the tenets of their religions.”


At least that’s what eminent Pakistani author Nadeem Aslam, whose latest novel The Wasted Vigil takes a strong geopolitical look at the war-ravaged Afghanistan, believes.


Aslam, who just attended the Jaipur Literary Festival and is scheduled to have a reading of his novel in Delhi on Thursday, is aghast that such fringe elements are cornering so much space in public discourse just using their muscle power.


“I know that those people who broke up that pub in Mangalore has nothing to do with my Hindu friends, who are almost like my family members, for whom Hinduism is something else. Like Al Qaida they are also the fringe, and that fringe has to be defeated,” the London-based author told Deccan Herald in an exclusive interview.


In fact, Aslam, whose previous novel Maps of the Lost Lovers had won several awards, is also strongly critical of how forces like Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) has been acting as an extra-constitutional force in Mumbai and other places, he himself being an indirect victim of that.


“I was scheduled to have a reading of my book in Mumbai too after Delhi. But  people were slightly apprehensive, saying that a Pakistani author was going to give a reading in Mumbai. Nothing perhaps would have happened, but I do read that Pakistani writers have been taken off the shelves,” he says.


“I am not going to Mumbai because of that, and it is a really terrible feeling, because it is a tiny minority in both our countries and everywhere else, but just because they are stronger than us, because their muscles are stronger than us and because we are weak, they are having their way,” says Aslam.


Aslam is upset that Pakistani performing artistes are facing hurdles in Mumbai thanks to political forces like MNS and Shiv Sena, but he hopes to have a reading of his book in the Maximum city soon.


“Of course, I will go to Mumbai when it blows over, I will come back in a few months. India occupies such a great place in your imagination if you are from Pakistan. If you are a Pakistani and told that you will be taken to India, it’s like taking a child to an enchanted land. We are all alike, just our rulers and the tiny minority of trouble makers just won’t let us be,” he says.


(published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com)



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