Sunday, February 12, 2012

From Book to Bollywood

Everyone has their list of things to do before they kick the bucket and I'm no exception. If anything, my list of things to do which at that time seemed unachievable started early when as a precocious (well, my mother may have had other adjectives to describe me!) ten year old, I'd proclaim my ambition to be a writer. As things turned out, the writer part did come true, but there was another item on my list which I've had for some time now. That was the desire to have one of my books made into a movie. I guess that's a secret wish for most writers because one of the biggest motivators for a writer is reaching people with one's ideas, and in today's popular culture, nothing touches people with the kind of reach and impact that movies do. Of course, going from a book to movie is such a seemingly impossible dream that few writers (including myself) would verbalize that wish, for fear of it seeming outlandish.

Well, not quite so outlandish any more, I guess. Some of my close friends and family have known for some time that something's been afoot, and now that it's all done and sealed and finally feels real (can't get more real than a contract and a cheque, I guess), thought I'd share with the broader world.

One of my novels, Herogiri, is headed to Bollywood.

A production house has bought the feature film rights to Herogiri. The process itself was fairly nail-biting, with the initial excitement ("Are you kidding? They want to make a movie out of my book?) giving way to months of protracted negotiations ("Do I really care about Clause 1.23 as long as they make a movie and pay me?") where thankfully, I was in good hands with my publishers,
Random House, and their lawyers ensuring I got the best possible deal.

The end result is something I'm really excited about at several levels. Of course, the no-brainer is the excitement of seeing my book come to life on the big screen. The production house has paid for outright movie rights, not an option, so it's very likely they will make a movie soon enough, which means I may not have to wait several years to see Arnab Bannerjee's exploits make the leap from my head to paper and now to screen. Finally, am excited that the rights have been bought by Anil Kapoor Film Productions. Mr. Kapoor, of course is a childhood icon for many of us, and it is fitting that he gets the rights for Herogiri, a superhero tale set in modern India, since he was the star of the first real Indian superhero blockbuster in Mr. India.

Of course, I have my wish-list for who I think would be just perfect for the roles of Arnab, Mishti, Jayantada and the other characters I breathed life into starting with some scribbles on the back of a boarding pass on a flight to Sydney some three years ago. And of course, I'm sure Mr. Kapoor and his executives will figure all that out without my gratuitous advice. But, Mr. Kapoor, if you're reading this, do a long-standing fan a favour and star as Khan Chacha- that would truly be the icing on the cake!



Dwight Okita said...

This is fantastic news about the movie. Congrats. Have you always been with Random House? I thought you were an indy writer. Great news all the way around!

Lisa Grace said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to see it on the big screen. I know it's going to be a fantastic film.

I went through the same nail-biting, but unlike you I couldn't keep my mouth shut during the process. Of course, that has its drawbacks. I'm glad your movie is being fast-tracked.
Best wishes and enjoy your success Mr. Bollywood.

David L. Shutter said...


Been following you since your gueat post over on D. Gaughrans site. I just finished Vimana and have seen your other works topping the sci-fi charts.

Congrats on your well earned success, look forward to hearing more about how the movie comes out.

Just curious, I know you were traditionally published in India but how did it work that Random House brokered your deal if you're independent now?


Mainak Dhar said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the kind words. My writing career is schizophrenic in a sense (or getting the best of both worlds, if you look at it that way). I'm traditionally published in India (Random House for Herogiri, Penguin for Vimana etc) and independantly publishing through KDP for the global market. So typically, I sell India-specific rights for my work there- and in this case Random House was my publisher representing film rights in India. So far it works for me as it gives me the reach and exposure in India that going with major publishers entails (and ebooks and indie publishing are still in their infancy there) but for non-Indian readers, going direct via KDP/Amazon allows me to build a reader base and reach readers directly since ebooks are much better established. I don't really have a dogmatic point of view about traditional or indie- both are simply a means to reach readers. In India, the context (and my past publishing history) means traditional publishers are the best bet now (though I may well reconsider once Amazon's up and running there and tablet/ereader penetration grows) but for the US, where I started as a nobody and the market allowed it, going indie worked great.

Dwight Okita said...

Thanks for sharing. That is fascinating that you have different channels in India vs. worldwide. You have the best of both worlds!

Vargas said...

Great news! I hope to get news like this someday.

David L. Shutter said...


Thanks for the info, very interesting that you retained e-rights from two major houses now that stories of rampant "e-rights grabbing" are popping up everywhere.

Do they not place value on e-rights from works originating in foreign markets?

Seems that way and, I might add, silly for them as your work of late has been consistently at home at or near the top of Amazon's sci-fi list.

Best wishes