In the euphoria generated around the stupendous recognition that SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE has generated world wide, in the form of awards at the Golden Globe Awards, as also 11 nominations in the Golden Lion category, one thing that has been underlined with emphasis has been the importance of adoption of the novel into a successful script.
Simon Beaufoy has indeed done a marvelous job in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE if it is viewed from the perspective that the adoption of novels by the Indian writers as a film script in the recent past, celebrated example being HELLO has not been able to pass the muster with elan. The credit is more so on account of the fact that it is novel, which has been set in the Indian milieu and has adapted to perfection by an English writer. The question then raises is whether the successful novels written by the Indian writers in the recent past need to be adapted into the screen play primarily by the writers outside the country as they have perfected the art of adapting the novels to the films.
The question indeed has the relevance as may be the Indian writers are not able to dissect the novels and are not able to fine tune it in such a manner that it does not adhere to the conventions, but stands out on its merit. The flip side to this is the banter of Big B against SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE who holds the view that it romanticizes the poverty and is a commercial interpretation of squalor of the country.
The question then that needs to be answered is, whether it is owing to this fact that the films get an award, as they glorify the abjectness, which a native writer would think twice before doing it, and a western writer would not think twice before doing it?
The argument may have a premise, but the premise is on account of the written word associated with the subject. Beaufoy has developed the script into a story only from the novel of Vikas Swaroop, Q&A, and therefore if we have a reservation on this count, a part of the blame also lies with us as well.
The moot point is that the success of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE should buoy the script-writing scenario in the country. For a writer in the Indian milieu the existentialist dilemma that he faces is to change the mental framework of the Indian public, which still has more value for oral traditions than the written word. The view needs to be changed fast; only then script adaptation of novels would become a real success story in India.