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The world of book-to-web adaptations

Anesha George

Do you keep your books close but your Netflix password closer? Whether you like to curl up with a novel or binge-watch an entire season until dawn, there’s a slew of book-to-web adaptations coming your way, giving you the best of both worlds. And helping bring them to you is a clique of companies that specialise in just this.

Sidharth Jain’s The Story Ink, set up in April 2018, is one such books-to-film agency. “I think of us as a hybrid between and Uber, a matchmaker and facilitator between authors and production houses,” he says. “With books being ignored for years and the limited talent and story pool in production houses, someone has to be middleman.”

Others include Kanishka Gupta’s The Writer’s Side, which began brokering book-to-screen adaptations in 2017; and the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image’s (MAMI) word-to-screen market, started in 2016.

“We wanted to create a platform where publishers and producers could interact; a platform that would act as an introduction into the ecosystem of adapted screenplays,” says creative director of the MAMI’s annual film festival, Smriti Kiran.

What started out as an annual one-day event has, last year and this, been spread out over two days of pitches and one-on-one meetings between authors and content creators.

“We’ve most recently had Sagarika Ghose’s book, ‘Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister’, picked up by Roy Kapur Films for a web series,” says Kiran. “Having on-ground, face-to-face interaction has forged many friendships and brokered several deals.”

The Writer’s Side, meanwhile, recently brokered a deal for a studio to acquire the rights to adapt Jerry Pinto’s ‘Murder in Mahim’. “Earlier you had to be a Chetan Bhagat or an Amish to bag such a deal. But with so many OTT platforms and production houses now hungry for diverse and compelling narratives, even self-published books are in demand,” Gupta says.

The Netflix adaptation of Vikram Chandra’s ‘Sacred Games’was a big game-changer. It proved that adaptations done right could be extremely profitable and popular, even if they were based on a complex work of literature.

“Plotline is king, and even a mediocre author can now get paid if they have a rich plot and a sellable idea,” says Jain. “It’s got to the point where a lot of authors have cut down on writing books and started writing screenplays directly,” Gupta adds.



Based on a 2017 book of the same name by Prayaag Akbar, this dystopian drama is set in the near future and follows a woman’s struggle to find her missing daughter.

The series stars Huma Qureshi and Rahul Khanna, and is directed by Deepa Mehta, Shanker Raman and Pawan Kumar. It premiered on Netflix on June 14.

Bard of Blood

Based on a book of the same name by Bilal Siddiqi, the web series is a political espionage thriller starring Emraan Hashmi and Sobhita Dhulipala. Due out on Netflix in September, the series is all set to be  produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment.


Set in 2012, the web series is adapted from a book by Aroon Raman that explores the devastating effects of climate change. Stars Prateik Babbar and Sonal Chauhan, and began streaming on Zee5 on May 22.

The Final Call

This thriller is based on Priya Kumar’s novel ‘I Will Go with You’, which revolves around a group of passengers on a flight with a suicidal pilot. Released on Zee5 in February, the show stars Arjun Rampal, Neeraj Kabi, and Sakshi Tanwar.

Midnight’s Children

Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj will bring to the small screen Salman Rushdie’s best-known classic. ‘Midnight’s Children,’ the Netflix web series was announced in November 2018.

Sacred Games S2

Based on Vikram Chandra’s book of the same name, this Netflix show starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui had a very successful S1. Among the new faces in S2, directed by Anurag Kashyap and Neeraj Ghaywan, are Kalki Koechlin and Ranvir Shorey.

Selection Day S2

Based on the sports fiction novel by Arvind Adiga, ‘Selection Day’ revolves around the lives and ambitions of two teen cricket prodigies. Season 1 was released by Netflix in December, starring Ratna Pathak Shah and Mahesh Manjrekar; the trailer for Season 2 was released on April 19.


A web series based on four ghost stories by Ruskin Bond, this one was released in January on Zee5 and stars actors such as Farida Jalal and Sarah Jane Dias.                (HT Media)

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