With his third book ready to be adapted into film, author Chetan Bhagat says he has become more careful after the "3 Idiots" films controversy. "I am more careful and clear now. I want and make sure that there is no confusion regarding anything," says Bhagat, whose book "Five Point Someone" formed the basis for the blockbuster film "3 Idiots" starring Aamir Khan went on to become the highest grosser in Indian film history.
Bhagat and the producers and directors of the film had gone public with their fight over credits. The matter was later resolved. Another of Bhagat's books "3 Mistakes of my life" released in 2008 is being made into a film directed by "Rock On" fame Abhishek Kapoor and reportedly starring Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan.
Bollywood directors have always been fascinated by best-selling books and Chetan Bhagat's novels seem to be a favourite when it comes to making films.
Directed by Atul Agnihotri, the Salman Khan starring 2008 flick "Hello" was also based on Bhagat's fiction "One Night at Call Centre." Bhagat had also written the screenplay of the film, which unfortunately failed to click at the Box Office.
Bhagat, however, feels Indian values inspire him and he says he does not consciously make efforts to cater to the Bollywood films while writing his books. "Not really. May be my writing style is film friendly, he says when asked about it. "A lot of luck is required for a book to be successfully adapted into a film. I feel lucky that so many people like my writing. Initially it was only youngsters but now it cuts across all sections. I think it has an universal appeal," says Bhagat.
"It is literature coming to life. Bollywood is a medium to reach those people who can not read and write. India has many such illiterate people. So, the audience that is left out gets the knowledge of my works through films," says Bhagat. "It is a lot of fun as writing books is lonely, but in movies you need to leave the house and have people around you," he adds.
Films such as Mira Nair's "Namesake," Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Devdas" and Pradeep Sarkar's "Parineeta" have all been successfully adapted from books and have appealed to commercial and critical sensibilities.
Nowadays film directors are also experimenting with foreign authors. Abhay Deol-Sonam Kapoor starrer "Aisha" was based on Jane Austen's novel "Emma," directed by Rajshree Ojha. Shekhar Kapoor's directorial debut "Masoom"; was adapted from Erich Segal's bestseller "Man, Woman and Child" in 1983.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh sees no harm in this trend. "Aisha was well adapted to Indian settings. It all depends on the idea and the feasibility of adapting the book. It should also cater to pan-India audience like '3 Idiots' did. The entertainment factor should be strong," says Adarsh.
Ashutosh Gowariker is directing Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone in his next "Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey" which is based on Manini Chatterjee's book "Do and Die." The ever-growing fascination of film directors for adapting books into films is seen as lack of good story writers by Bhagat.
"Writers are not being encouraged in the film industry. There is a lot of repetition of the work. There are not enough writers and ideas," says the author who gave up a lucrative career as a management banker to start writing.
Adarsh, however, feels there are many stories that are dying to be told. "If you open a newspaper, you can get ten real-life stories from there, but developing it requires a lot of hard work. Adapting a bestseller, however, is an easy idea," he says.