Many critics have written about the ‘golden age of television’ happening in America right now. With shows like Breaking Bad, True Detective, Game Of Thrones and most recently, Big Little Lies, showcasing superlative content on a regular basis, a large number of people prefer watching TV shows to movies these days. Some of the highest rated TV shows are based on books, which is good for both book readers, who want to see the adaptation pan out and for non-book readers, who won’t have to read to enjoy a wonderful story.
Here in India though, the said ‘golden age‘ is long gone. TV serials often start on a good note till the dance for TRPs begins and multiple close-ups with a shrill background score make up for 10 minutes of a half hour episode. The intention is usually good, like Baalika Vadhu was envisioned as a show to portray the stark reality of child marriages and Yeh Meri Life Hai was a genuinely interesting take on a middle-class girls dream to become a movie director like Karan Johar.
The problems happen when the serials are stretched for many years and the story eventually turns into a saas-bahu saga. Even Hindi serials based on books stay true to the source matter for sometime before diverging into a family drama with conniving members, memory-losses and plastic surgery. Why would a concept so intriguing be turned into a soap opera? We don’t know, but here’s a list of 7 hindi serials that are actually based on popular books.
1) Kahiin Toh Hoga and Trishna – Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has been adapted into multiple TV shows and movies. Various bestsellers (which have been made into movies) like Bridget Jones’s Diary have also been inspired by Jane’s most popular novel. In India, we know Aishwarya Rai starrer Bride and Prejudice was a take on the book, but did you know that a popular K-serial also started out like that?
Kahiin to Hoga, the serial which turned Aamna Sharif and Rajeev Khandelwal into household names was loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. The proud and beautiful Kashish who is close to her father and four sisters. The rich, handsome and haughty Sujal, and their story which starts on a bad note but culminates into love soon enough. The storyline of Kashish’s younger sister Mahek is also somewhat similar to that of Mr Wickham and Lydia. After a promising start though, Kahiin Toh Hoga lost the plot and in one of the ridiculous storylines, Kashish was shortly married to a man played by Tinu Anand. Yea.
The 1985 Doordarshan serial Trishna was a faithful adaptation of the book.
2) Meri Aashiqui Tumse Hi – Wuthering Heights
Childhood lovers separated because of class divide is a tired and tested trope in Bollywood movies and Hindi serials. But popular daily soap Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi takes more than just that from Emily Bronte‘s gothic classic Wuthering Heights. The ‘Heathcliff‘ like Ranveer is removed from his Ishani‘s life (who is a mere shadow of the willful Catherine from the original novel). He returns as rich man with a vengeance and this is when the story diverts from the novel and becomes it’s own entity.
3) Kumkum Bhagya – Sense and Sensibility
Another serial inspired by the works of Jane Austen, Kumkum Bhagya is an Indian take on Sense and Sensibility, with the elder sister Pragya playing a version of Elinor Dashwood. Of course, this version has a supermodel and a rockstar (who is also the hero of the show) and Bulbul, who is based on the equally important Marianne Dashwood in the novel, is phased out of the show eventually.
4) Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne – The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
The popular Doordarshan show Mungerilal Ke Haseen Sapne had veteran actor Raghubir Yadav play the lead. Mungerilal was somewhat inspired by The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, a short story by James Thurber published in 1939. The story was also adapted for the 2013 movie of the same name starring Ben Stiller, but it’s nice to know that India got there first, right?
5) Aatish – Master Of The Game
Aatish was a one of Smriti Irani‘s earlier shows (before she became Tulsi) and was aired on Star Plus in 1999. Though the show was short-lived, not many people know that it was inspired by Sidney Sheldon‘s bestseller Master Of The Game. The book has been divided into various parts and had many characters, but Aatish was primarily based on a businesswoman (Neena Kulkarni) and her twin granddaughters. While the older twin (played by Reena Wadhwa) is evil and manipulative, her sister (played by Smriti) is kindhearted. The show was a twisted tale with the evil twin paying an impostor (Asif Sheikh) to seduce, marry and kill her sister so that she gets all the property.
6) Dilli Wali Thakur Gurls – Those Pricey Thakur Girls
Based on Anuja Chauhan‘s bestseller Those Pricey Thakur Girls, Dilli Wali Thakur Gurls (yea Gurls) is quite a disappointment. From changing the setting from pre-liberalization India and the interesting point of contention between the lead pair, the serial is a watered down version of a good book. Read this piece to know how Dilli Wali Thakur Gurls could have been a refreshing change, but was eventually, just a let down.
7) Kismat – Kane And Abel
YRF ventured into television with interesting shows like Mahi Ve, Rishta.com and Kismat. Based on Jeffery Archer‘s bestselling 1979 novel Kane And Abel, Kismat premiered on 14 February 2011. Much like the book, the show was based on two Indian men who are born in different worlds and have nothing in common but their birthday – 15th August 1947. The show was acclaimed for sticking close to the book and not stretching for years, much like most of our daily soaps.
What do you think? Should Indian TV serials adapt more books? Tell us in the comments below!