Literature is an endless source of inspiration, learning and entertainment. There have been several attempts to spread messages, teachings or entertainment quotient of these timeless literary classics. Barring a few remarkable adaptations, the incompetent and ill-researched Bollywood coterie marred the legacy of literary gems.
Out of those innumerable maligning efforts, here are a list of 5 worst contents that did absolute injustice with the literary source they drew inspiration from, albeit in the name of creative liberty.
Now-a-days, many ‘daily soap operas’ shamelessly drag pathetic storylines for eons. But there was a time when channels respected viewers’ feedback. On negative response for any show, the channels would take those terrible serials off-air. Chandrakanta was one of them.
The widely acclaimed novel was written by Devki Nandan Khatri. It was an insanely popular novel across the nation. So much so that a large section of people were ready to translate it into different languages. The craze of learning Hindi was also hitting the roof. All of them did it to have a firsthand understanding, experience and enjoy the content of the novel.
In order to capitalise the fandom around the novel, Neerja Guleria adapted it for a Television serial. Rather than getting admiration, the director was subjected to brickbats. Audiences were aghast by the despicable adulterations done to the original masterpiece.
For example – Veer Singh, the pivotal character of the novel Chandrakanta got limited screen presence as if he was a sidekick. The televised adaptation barely touched on the subject of ‘Ayyeri’ that was described at full length in the original novel. Additionally, the adaptation could have easily outcompeted and defeated political parties in doing appeasement of certain sections.
Published in 1934, Chitralekha was composed by the famous writer Bhagwati Charan Verma. Based on the time frame of the Mauryan period, the novel virtually described every aspect of human life. Anyone can be overwhelmed after reading the philosophical thoughts compiled in the novel.
The basic story of Chitralekha revolves around a triangular love story where a yogi and a kshatriya fall in love with Chitralekha, an exquisite dancer.
Later, it was adapted into a film by Kidar Sharma, not once but twice – in 1941 and 1964. The film made in 1941 was a huge success but the film version of 1964 was vehemently disliked by the audiences. The colourful adaptation starring Meena Kumari as Chitralekha and characters like Ashok Kumar, Pradeep Kumar in the supporting role couldn’t save the film from public wrath as the presentation of the film failed to carry the true essence of the beautifully penned book by Bhagwati Charan Verma. The highly philosophical lines that the book carries felt distorted and diluted when framed as scenes in the cinema.
3) Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu
The artistic significance of any creation is enhanced when the creator ‘writes-off’ his/her other creations in comparison to his beloved creation being discussed. Acharya Chatursen Shastri wrote several compositions but he was so impressed with his composition ‘Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu’ that he asked audiences to forget about his other works.
Amrapali was considered the most beautiful girl of the Licchavi kingdom and many plays and compositions were composed on her. But Acharya Shastri’s ‘Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu’ is the most popular composition based on her chronicles. It came in two parts in 1948-49. The writer while writing the novel left no mystery untouched of the time period he was talking about. Be it regional, linguistic, religious, Kingdoms in power, bad practices, corruption, taboos and every minute incident happening around the story has got a prominent space in his writing.
However, its televised or cinematic adaptations never achieved the popularity that the original novel got. And obvious reason to it is that the presenter failed to carry the soul of the book. Major basic points from the original writings were not translated into the scenes and those that were either missed the grandeur that the book carried or the essence book had. Even though the role of Amrapali was essayed by two leading actresses – Vyjayanthimala [in 1966] and Hema Malini [in 1980s], both the actresses failed to do justice to the original novel.
4) Gunahon ka devta
Just like ‘Chandrakanta’, there used to be a mad frenzy around the novel, ‘Gunahon Ka Devta’. People often used to wait in long queues to buy or read the classic novel. Written by a young Dharamveer Bharti, the novel nicely delves on human relations, love in general and platonic love in specific and various other aspects of the society. Immediately after its publication in 1949, the novel received unprecedented buzz and admirations. Dharmveer Bharti, within days of his book’s release, became a celebrity in the writer’s world.
There was widespread clamour to adapt the book into film or TV to increase its audience base but these demands were left on deaf ears for a long time. Two decades later, in 1969, a film starring Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri was signed to make a movie on Dharmveer Bharti’s novel. Excitement ran through the fan base but it was later revealed that the project the crew was working upon was “Suraj ka satwa ghoda”, another classic by the same writer but that too halted midway. The film never saw the light of the day.
In 1967, viewers got to see a film by the name ‘Gunahon ka Devta’. However, the film had nothing to do with the original story of the novel. Leading actors Jitendra and Rajsri with Aruna Irani just made the story worst from best. Neither actors could go into the skin of the characters nor did the presenter give a damn about sensitivity of the storyline while presenting it.
Finally, in 2015, a serial based on the original novel was aired, named “Ek Tha Chandar, Ek Thi Sudha”. But it got a cold response from the audiences for straying away from the original storyline described in the book.
Munshi Premchand is hailed as one of the pioneers of Hindi literature. Nearly all of his works hold great literary value. But his creations like ‘Gaban’ stand tall in comparison to other compositions released in any genre or language.
Gaban is a glaring example that demonstrates human urge to be included in posh societies. It beautifully depicts the extent to which a person can go to include himself in a prosperous society.
However, its cinematic adaptation released in 1966 failed to present the same impact. The movie had an impressive star cast in the likes of Sunil Dutt and Sadhna. But it failed to captivate the audiences and couldn’t do Justice with the subject of Premchand’s Gaban. While watching the film you will have a strong feeling that the marvellous storyline by Munshi Premchand is completely spoilt and the essence of the story was completely suffocated to death.
Likewise, on countless occasions, the TV or Bollywood cabal terribly messed up the original spirit of novels or stories to inject their reprehensible agenda. All of this thoughtless tampering has continued in the name of Creative Liberty. It is high time that the Entertainment industry understands that it can’t sail its boat merely in the name of a literary classic. It has to truly capture the spirit of the literary artwork if it wants to garner the same recognition, love and admiration from the audiences. If they can’t do justice with the subject, the least any literary fan or viewer can expect from them is to not harm the legacy of these literary artworks.
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