Amitav Ghosh’s ‘The Shadow Lines’ to be filmed

November 3rd, 2011 - 12:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) It all began in 2005 when Anupam Barve bought novelist Amitav Ghosh’s “The Shadow Lines” from a bookshop in Jawaharlal Nehru University. The filmmaker from Pune wrote to the author, saying he wanted to adapt the book to celluloid.

He has now signed a contract with Ghosh.

Barve was convinced he could make a gripping script out of the story about the narrator’s family in Kolkata and Dhaka and their connection with an English family in London.

In the story, a boy conjures up a picture of London so vivid in his imagination that he recognises it when he visits the city years later and learns that real places can be ‘invented’ inside your head. At some point, boundaries between his present, his imagination and fiction start to blur.

The book won Ghosh a Sahitya Akademi Award.

Barve, who currently teaches film direction at the University of Westminster in London, is preparing a screenplay with collaborator Vaibhav Abnave, a playwright from Delhi.

As the screenplay requires them to travel to London, Dhaka and Kolkata for research, the two need funds. They are at present collecting the money through an online fundraiser. They are asking fans of the writer and others to contribute for the project at indiegogo.com and get signed copies of Ghosh’s novels and the film’s DVDs in return.

Ghosh is enthused too. This new way of funding can be a lifeline for independent filmmakers, he says.

“Anupam and Vaibhav are trying to fund the project through an innovative new method, one that relies, as it were, on the film-viewing ‘commons’,” wrote Ghosh on his blog (amitavghosh.com/blog) recently.

“What is more, they have already had considerable success - novel indeed are the possibilities opened up by the internet! I am amazed to think of the possibilities this might open up. It could revolutionise filmmaking, setting it free of the studios,” he added.

However, Barve says fundraisers alone cannot cover the filmmaking expenses.

“By no means will such an amount be sufficient to support the entire development, let alone the film. Given the scope of the book, it will not be possible to make this film on a small budget. We have plans to approach companies and production houses to get involved and back the project once we have at least a draft of the screenplay ready,” he told IANS in an e-mail.

Barve says indiegogo, which is a “crowd-funding” website, has emerged as a popular platform amongst artists, helping them raise finances for their books, films, documentaries, theatre pieces and music albums.

“All you need to do is create a campaign, craft a good pitch for the project, offer ‘perks’ to contributors, share it on your network and get funded!” he says.

They have already raised nearly $1,900, up $400 from the goal of $1,500.

Cut back to that first e-mail Barve wrote to Ghosh.

He wanted to title “The Shadow Lines” as “44 Lemington Road”, he said, adding that he hoped to meet the writer in London during the launch of his latest book “The River of Smoke”. To his surprise, Ghosh replied and expressed interest in the project.

They finally met, with Barve impressing Ghosh with his enthusiasm and encyclopaedic knowledge of filmmaking and the deal was struck. (Ghosh has posted the entire episode on his blog.)

Meanwhile, two more of Ghosh’s novels have been optioned for cinematic adaptation — “The Hungry Tide” by Delhi-based producers Shernaz Italia and Freny Khodaiji and “The Calcutta Chromosome” by an Italian company.

(Sourabh Gupta can be contacted at sourabh.g@ians.in)

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