Fiction into Film 7 | Anjali Gera Roy

Fiction into Film 7 | Anjali Gera Roy

Fiction into Film 7
Anjali Gera Roy 

Abstract: R. K. Narayan’s The Guide, considered a masterpiece, was made into an equally successful film. Guide was made in two versions — an English version in collaboration with Pearl S. Buck and directed by Ted Danielewski to introduce Dev Anand to Western audiences and the Hindi version directed by Dev Anand’s younger brother, Vijay Anand. Despite being warned by all and sundry not to touch the project and his brother’s strong reluctance to direct, Anand persisted with the film, which went on to fetch awards in almost all categories and remains a landmark in Indian Cinema. R. K. Narayan was most unhappy with the final film as he felt it deviated too much from his novel, particularly in Anand’s change of setting from Malgudi to Udaipur and the film’s ending, and disowned the film. The author’s disappointment with the cinematic translation of his text is understandable. But it overlooks the difference between fiction and film, the main issue being that the novel is a verbal medium whereas film is primarily a visual genre. What is the process through which the filmmaker translates the verbal into the visual mode? How did Vijay Anand translate Narayan’s complex fictional narrative that weaves in modernization, social reform, and development with spiritual quest in a cinematic code? How did he weave in the emboxed narrative of the unhappy dancer Rosie into the frame story about the Hindu concepts of the power of faith and renunciation? How did he handle descriptions of characters: “complexion not white, but dusky, which made her only half visible, as if you saw her through a film of tender coconut juice” and mood: “‘I’m prepared to spend the whole night here,’ she said. ‘He will, of course, be glad to be left alone. Here at least we have silence and darkness, welcome things, and something to wait for out of that darkness’”; interior monologue; the passage of time; the switch from the frame to the emboxed tale and so on? Through examining The Guide, this paper will engage with the handling of narrative in fiction and film.

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Published in 2018

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