I am a director. My vision has given wings to stories, flesh to characters and panache to words. I do not have a cinematographer, a costume designer, an art director, a make-up artist, a special effects supervisor. I do that myself. Alone.

Heir of RedclyffeI have the power to dissolved away my surroundings. I have the power to be deaf to tyres scraping on roads, to honks hammering my ear drums, to mouths producing conversations, to songs blaring out of machines. There are times when the car dismantle around me – strips of metal fly away, the seat dissolve beneath me, the humans vanish in fumes – and then I am sitting alone, ready to direct my movie. Ready to be devoured by what I love the most. My private universe.

I open the book and my fingers melt into the pages and then I am somewhere else. I am a time traveler.

The idea was breathing with me. It was not planted but surfaced at the right time. It took time to evolve but soon I was directing books instead of reading them. It started in the 90s. Like the rest of India, I was awestruck by DDLJ and my directorial debut was a Shahrukh-Kajol starrer named The Heir of Redclyffe by  Charlotte M. Yonge. Tears trickled down my cheeks when Guy Morville (played by SRK) dies of a fever leaving a widowed Kajol behind. Yes, such was the magic of my directorial debut. SRK and Kajol played numerous important roles in the classics like The Wuthering Heights (although I replaced them with Hrithik and Kareena in a remake later), Rebecca, Gone with the wind, Anna Karenina, The Scarlet Letter etc. The list is endless. While SRK and Kajol reached the heights of stardom by featuring in my movies, Aamir was as usual sulking. So, I threw an occasional Barnaby Rudge and Jude the Obscure towards him. You might throw a spear of a question towards me asking why were Bollywood actors playing Caucasian roles? It was, dear readers, an alternate reality. It was supposed to be insane.

barnaby rudgeIt wasn’t just the classics where the Bollywood actors were shining. SRK (!), Kajol (!) and Saif came together for The Fountainhead. Who played Ellsworth M. Toohey, you may ask. Nasseruddin Shah. Movies like The English Patient, Sphere, Birdsong, The Bind Assassin, 1984, Life of Pi etc kept coming out with Bollywood actors till the director in me outgrew the SRK-Kajol pair and wanted something more. I wanted to work with Foreign actors. And thus started an era of movies where I worked with Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in A Finkler Question, Japanese actors in Memoirs of a Geisha, Black actors in The Colour Purple and countless other movies.

The_Immortals_Of_MeluhaSoon afterwards, my nation started calling me back and I did The Immortals of Meluha with Hrithik as Shiva. A new idea was germinating. I wanted to go for collaborations. Sometimes blind ones. I picked up The Wheel of Time. It was an epic 14 books fantasy series and a huge star cast was required. I had no idea what the story was and hence I randomly assigned actors. It was a gamble but it created results seen never before on the screen. Katrina was paired opposite Brad Pitt. She almost fainted at the proposition. Kareena became the Amyrlin Seat (after uprooting the wicked Angelina Jolie) with a lost puppy of a Matt Damon trailing her. Yes, who would have thought? Priyanka Chopra ended up as Bradley Cooper’s sister. There were minor hiccups like Aishwarya Rai falling in love with Amitabh’s character, but then we were playing blind, weren’t we?

I had tasted blood.

I read A Song of Ice and Fire Series next and had an equally enchanting star cast lined up. And then The Malazan Book of the Fallen happened. It was strange to see Amitabh and Hrithik playing Gods. It was strange to see Rani Mukherjee and Tobey Maguire together in a scene with A.K. Hangal in the background. It was strange to see Aishwarya playing Empress Laseen talking to Sergeant Whiskeyjack played by Arnold. It was strange to see Ashmit Patel (a slave and a mistake) trying to calm down a weeping emperor played by Johnny Depp. It was strange to see Kareena commanding an army with George Clooney standing next to her as a sergeant and then she goes ahead and kills Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame (they played sisters).

Malazan book of the fallenIn the end it is not just about the actors but about the visualization – the costumes, the makeup, the backdrop, the special effects, the music and the acting. It is about watching a book and enjoying the experience. I assume it is an art we all possess but the limits vary.

This is another reason the movies in the real world never live up to the books. I have already created them in vivid details in my mind. I have already seen them. I have already directed them.

Nothing comes close to the joy of carrying a world at my disposal in my brain. There are moments while turning pages when I forget that I am turning them, when I forget that I am physically outside the book, when nothing exists except the screen.

2017-11-11T00:38:23+00:00 Tags: , , , , , , |

About the Author:

Amit Sharma is the Author of fiction novel False Ceilings published by Lifi Publications in January 2016.
Amit always keeps a book and a portable reading light in his bag (much to the amusement of his fellow travellers). His other hobbies include watching world cinema, travelling, staring at hills, digging into various cuisines, cooking, listening to music, painting, blogging, making his daughter laugh and helping his wife with her unnecessary and prolonged shopping.
He is currently working on his Second novel which is a thriller.

49 Comments

  1. Bhavia February 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    This is true,rarely I have seen a movie better than the respective novel/book.Until now there have been only two movies which I felt as equal to or better than the book – Agnisakhshi directed by Shyamaprasad and Parineeta by Pradeep Sarkar

    • Amit February 18, 2013 at 8:40 pm - Reply

      One good example was ‘The Colour Purple’. The movie complimented the book beautifully. The Hobbit is also pretty good.

  2. alkagurha February 18, 2013 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    Ahh…the flight of imagination. SRK nd Saif in Fountainhead sounds interesting. And there’s Ashmit too…..I thought he was exclusive to a certain Ms. Maliks imagination.

    • Amit February 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      Yes, I took them 10 years ago but may not take them at present if I decide to make a remake.
      And Ashmit was a mistake. A terrible one. I gave him the role because I thought it was an insignificant one. The lucky dog had almost every other scene with Depp.

  3. inducares February 18, 2013 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    A bit of a diversion.I want to thank you to this treasure trove where i can refresh my memory of books read long back.I read Rebecca just now & loved the recap.Never knew wikipedia does this too!

    • Amit February 18, 2013 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      Well, I am glad that the post was of service. Wikipedia is good for a brush up especially when you are reading a series.

  4. umashankar February 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Sir, I am flabbergasted by the fecundity and fertility of your imagination! But true, cinema can never dare to replicate the perfectness of characters, scenes and images worked up by the brain. You have capture the feeling of being engrossed in a few deft strokes of your pen.

    It was also a superb way of expressing your love for books. Wuthering Heights is an eternal favourite of mine too.

    • Amit February 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      It took me some time to develop it completely. It is at a very advanced stage right now and I am completely enjoying it.
      I don’t think I would have loved books this much had I not created this mechanism. Somehow it shows I love movies as much as books and a combination is what gives me an ultimate high.

  5. Jas February 18, 2013 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    What a fertile imagination! well I have also watched the books transforming but never with the mainstream actors… But SRK and Kajol in Wuthering Heights… interesting though I think remake ones are better 🙂

    • Amit February 18, 2013 at 8:51 pm - Reply

      I took them a long time back. 🙂 They suited the roles then and I was in awe of them. If I make the movie today, I might take Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone.

      • Jas February 19, 2013 at 10:03 am

        aha Bradley Cooper… 🙂

  6. Rachna February 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    You are absolutely right! Books have a larger canvas and they give fuel to our imagination. Reality often falls short of imagination!

    • Amit February 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Absolutely. Somehow movies always fall short because you cannot explain three pages worth of emotions written in a book in a single scene.

  7. Rahul February 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    A lucid account of some immortals with generous sprinkling of flights of fancy!

    • Amit February 19, 2013 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Too generous I think. 🙂

  8. R's Mom February 19, 2013 at 9:23 am - Reply

    I think I always prefer reading a book to watching a movie of the book..I havent seen any of the Harry Potter movies just because I dont want to spoil my imagination 🙂

    But I loved your imagination 🙂

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 9:57 am - Reply

      That is one reason I haven’t read Harry Potter yet. Somehow I lose interest in a book if I have seen the movie but not the other way round. 😐
      Thanks R’s Mom. 🙂

  9. Nisha February 19, 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Contrary to popular opinion, I like to watch more than read!!! I’m unable to justify this given that I myself like to write. Maybe if I read the book before the movie, I would know. Sometime I read after the movie has impressed me.
    This is for the first time I’m reading someone doing direction in his imagination. Usually, people just go on Oprah after winning an Oscar in their heads 😉

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

      If I have watched a movie, I cannot go back and read the book. But I can do the other way round.
      Haha! I have never imagined myself winning the Oscars but you have planted an idea in my mind. 🙂

  10. My Era February 19, 2013 at 10:55 am - Reply

    My imagination is free of Bollywood actors, instead I try to plant people in my life in the plot. The one thing that is loudest is the background score to go with each scene & twist in the book 🙂

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Yes, I know that many people tend to do that. 🙂
      I am easy on background score nowadays. I use it when it is extremely necessary.

  11. Akanksha Dureja February 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    Oh I totally agree! A movie can never do justice to a book! Very well written piece, I must say.
    Also, you have almost proved an axiom by this post. Good going 😉

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Thanks Akanksha.
      I have? I guess a lot of us do that subconciously. 🙂

  12. reekycoleslaw February 19, 2013 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Fairly sinister – to B(H)ollywoodize in your head every book you read! After watching Joker, Tees Maar Khan and Rowdy Rathore, I can only visualize Akshay Kumar playing every single character ever written in every single book out there.
    I think I may be broken beyond repair.

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:05 am - Reply

      I think all of us imagine things when we read a book and some of us develop that ability more than the others.
      Akshay Kumar is fine but you cannot give him major roles. I gave him the role of a queen’s escort in my latest movie. He turned out to be a God in disguise. 😐

  13. Swaram February 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    So well expressed. Exactly why movies can never fit everything in that magnanimous world of imagination in just those 2-3 hours. Breaks my heart 🙁

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Thanks Swaram. I think there are some very rare movies that live up to the books. 🙂 But yes, a majority of them fail.

  14. seena February 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    This is how I too read books. Only difference that my actors do not limit to hollywood/bollywood but also to miniscreen actors, ad models, my friends, neighbours, relatives, random persons I have seen in the bus stops….. I need to visualize every words I read. A movie screen is always running in my head.
    Happy to find that I share a trait with you 🙂

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Yes, I have read this somewhere before. Some people turn all their relatives and friends into actors. 🙂
      Yay! Great to have a partner in craziness. 😛

  15. Anonymous February 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    >>Who played Ellsworth M. Toohey, you may ask. Nasseruddin Shah

    200 out of 100 to you for this… 🙂 when I was reading The Fountainhead, I too had thought of a movie and had thought of Nasseruddin Shah only for that character… but for female lead (I forgot the her name in book) I had Sushmita Sen and Boman Irani as her father. for male leads though I wanted one new face for Horward Roark and Shahid Kapoor as Peter … 🙂

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:11 am - Reply

      I guess he has that look required to play Toohey. I have read Fountainhead twice and the second time, I too Priety Zinta as Dominique Francon. She has that maverick attitude required for that role.

  16. metherebel February 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    The characters in the books I read are real people and mostly the female protagonist is played by me and as far as the male protagonist….here my imagination runs wild 😉

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

      And do you gather your Oscars after your movies get nominated? 😛
      You are very courageous. I can never dare to put myself in the lead role. 🙂

  17. pixie February 19, 2013 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    I prefer books any day and somehow feel that my imagination does the trick in filling the canvas as I turn the pages of a book 🙂

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:12 am - Reply

      I think I love books and movies both. Both of them are an ode to imagination.

  18. lathaguduruLatha February 20, 2013 at 4:50 am - Reply

    Hahah…at one point, I was thinking, OMG!! so many movies were made and I don’t know even one of them… :P…seriously!! I have seen a couple of Nicholos Sparks’ romantic flicks and they looked like a documentary to me..not like a movie..I felt his books are better than a movie.

    • Amit February 20, 2013 at 10:13 am - Reply

      Hahaha! Good that you realised that I was talking about the books.
      I think I saw The Notebook (don’t remember it much now) but I kind of liked it. Haven’t read the book though.

      • lathaguduru February 21, 2013 at 1:45 am

        Nah…I knew the book names…but I thought all those books were really made into movies and that I wasn’t even aware of at least one of them…:p

      • Amit February 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        Haha! That must have been scary. 😛

  19. bindu February 21, 2013 at 10:21 am - Reply

    lol! George Clooney as Kareena’s seargent was too funny! And just imagining SRK stuttering through all his Victorian roles …Hrithik as Shiva is just the perfect cas, I can only drool thinking of a dark Hrithk 🙂
    One movie that I likes far better than the book is ‘Chocolat’. Read the book first and loved it, saw the movie and loved it even more, then tried re reading the book and failed miserbaly. The movie images were so storngly ingrained in the mind. The movie was so good, you couls almost lick those chocolates 🙂

    • Amit February 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      She is heading an army. 🙂
      Now that I think of SRK, that does sound funny. I hardly use him nowadays.
      I haven’t read Chocolat but the movie is my all time favourite. I have seen it three times. 🙂

  20. The Girl Next Door February 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Have I told you that I love your imagination? 🙂

    I think all book lovers do this – direct a movie in their heads while reading a book. I’m guilty of it too, but I haven’t ever really imagined the way you have. I can see places, scenes, people in my head, but I have never tried to fit in Bollywood/Hollywood actors into the characters of my books.

    • Amit February 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Yes, I agree. Most of us do this but the degree varies. Personally, I have to attach a face to a character. Otherwise, I imagine people with white oval faces and that is not very pleasant. 🙂
      Thanks TGND! 🙂

  21. ms February 22, 2013 at 7:13 am - Reply

    what a fertile imagination – i suppose i should stop casting myself in every role in a movie adaptation of books! a bit like the scene in “being john malkovich” when he enters his own “portal”!!

    • Amit February 22, 2013 at 10:27 am - Reply

      Haha! I cannot understand how people cast themselves in novels. I will fall off the chair laughing if I do so. I guess it is an art. 🙂
      Thanks for your comment ms.

  22. purbaray February 22, 2013 at 9:05 am - Reply

    I always like to say, writing/ reading is an exercise in solitude. It’s when the voices in your head come to life.

    Now all you have to imagine is Hugh Jackman dedicating his Oscar to you.

    • Amit February 22, 2013 at 10:28 am - Reply

      And there is this whole world sitting in my head quietly all day and comes to life when I open the book, so much like the jungles of Pandora in Avatar.
      He already has and so have so many other actors. I myself have a shelf full of Oscars. 😛

  23. bhavanas11 February 25, 2013 at 11:37 am - Reply

    wow! My first time here and I am smiling to myself–what a lucky discovery! Great piece. I remember at TSBC recently this question was asked. Your piece answers it so well. Yeah, it is that engagement piece –the way we receive and interpret a good book that makes another director’s cut so unsatisfying.

    • Amit February 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Bhavana and welcome here! 🙂
      It is very rare when I have liked a director’s vision more than mine because I imagine it in so much detail. A book is very hard to match when you create an actual movie out of it. In real world, the director limits the director’s imagination because of time and money constraints.

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