Tom Stoppard in India Jan 23 to talk about adaptations

January 9th, 2012 - 5:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) The fine art of writing scripts for movies and plays will be in focus next week when one of the world’s greatest playwrights Tom Stoppard, of the Oscar-winning “Shakespeare in Love” fame, comes to India to speak on “adaptation” in plays and films.

Stoppard will team up with leading playwrights Girish Karnad, David Hare and Annie Proulx at the Jaipur Literature Festival Jan 23 to address a session, Adaptation.

“It is extraordinary that we have on our panel Oscar-winning playwright Tom Stoppard known for his screenplay, ‘Shakespeare in Love’. It is among the most complex and intelligent screenplays and one of my favourites,” William Dalrymple, co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, told IANS.

“Normally, we have one adaptation slot every year. Screenplay writing and and the art of playwriting has always been a separate genre of literature. It is very different from the novel,” Dalrymple said.

Dalrymple said “what was striking about Indian screenplays was that it had always been very India centric…Indian cinema has not been able to conquer the world in a way China has conquered”.

“Bollywood (in terms of screenplays) is very different from the western world.”

The writer said the Jaipur Literature Festival was lucky to have Girish Karnad too on same panel. “Girish Karnad is to India what Stoppard is to the West,” Dalrymple said.

Noted theatre personality, Nissar Allana, who expressed pleasure at Stoppard’s impending visit said, “Adaptations have been happening for a long time in Indian theatre since the 1950s and 1960s”.

“There is no lack of subjects - but all problems in Indian theatre- including scripts and experimentation - come from lack of insfrastructure,” Allana told IANS.

“Tom Stoppard is one of the world’s biggest living playwrights,” said theatre activist and culture promoter Sanjoy Roy.

“The way he has been able to adapt Shakespeare’s plays and life in ‘Shakespeare in Love’ may find an echo in Vishal Bharadwaj’s ‘Omkara’. We wanted to get John Berger, the famous playwright and story-teller, for the Jaipur Literature Festival, but we could not,” Roy, whose company Teamworks Production produces the festival, told IANS.

Stoppard has adapted some powerful books like “Three Men In a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome for a BBC television series, “The Russia House” for a movie based on John Le Carre’s novel in 1990 and “Poodle Springs”, a novel by Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler for a television series.

However, “Shakespeare in Love”, a comedy, which Stoppard co-authored with Marc Norman in 1998 remains his creative and commercial milestone. It was influenced by Shakespeare’s life, several of his plays and the literary landscape of 15th century England and its neighbouring countries.

Stoppard has an India connect - he spent his early life in the country as a student of Mount Hermon American Multi-Racial School in Darjeeling after his family fled the Nazi occupation of Europe.

He later renewed his ties with India through the “Shakespeare Wallah” - following his romantic liaison with Felicity Kendal, sister of Jennifer Kendal.

Knighted in 1997, the 74-year-old playwright, winner of one Academy award and four Tony Award, shot to limelight with plays like “Arcadia”, “The Coast of Utopia”, “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, “Professional Foul” and “Guilderstern and “Rosencrantz are Dead” about political change, state repression, human rights and freedom.

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