I am no particular fan of Arundhathi Roy. The only time I got close to her work was when a few of friends brought the pirated copy of ‘God of small things’ from Bangalore. I put it away after a few pages, as I found it too complicated.
Then came her article in ‘Outlook’ demanding ‘Azadi’ for Kashmir, which set my blood pressure. Back then I was a core nationalist in thinking, proud to be a part of Shining India. Then as I started reading more of leftist literature, I trudged carefully from the comfortable thought process to sticky path. Even today I am not confident or clear about my political stance. But I have learnt to respect and listen to Ms. Roy.
I have to admit, I haven’t read much of her books or essays, basically due to my impatience. But a recent statement from her sent my personal opinion on her roaring.
On a recent visit to Kerala she commented that she wouldn’t be giving her famous book ‘God of small things’ to a film maker. The reason was pretty interesting- visual colonization of minds. Remember, the young writers bollywoodize a book even before it’s out.
The writer has the time and space to convey her feelings. The reader has the time and space to assimilate it. But a script writer has only a few seconds to push the idea through. So there is a good chance for distortion. I have seen most of the classics being reduced to a parody thanks to relative incompetence. ‘Man under the iron mask’ would be the best example.
I used the word ‘relative’ as the script writer needn’t be bad in his profession. He may not be able to rise to the heights of an epic. The example of ‘Godfather’ can be an exception when Cuppola provided us with a better version of the novel.
To me it’s best to make films out of ordinary books-where there is nothing much for a reader to assimilate- or the ones in which need of visuals over power the narrative (Harry Potter ).
The other statement from Ms. Roy was more interesting. ‘The book is not mine. It was a collaboration between me, nature, silence and creatures’. At a time when the so called writers bay for the smallest change credits, she is a trendsetter.