Book-ed for web: Makers of web series take inspiration from bestsellers

For long successful books and novels have been integral sources of inspiration for filmmaker for their projects. But now this trend has caught up in the OTT space as well and makers are looking at the written word for inspiration when it comes to making new projects. Filmmaker Mira Nair adapted Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy for a series, author Vikas Swarup’s novel Six Suspects is being adapted for a series by Tigmanshu Dhulia and the list of directors making the most of bestsellers for their upcoming projects go on.

Director Akarsh Khurana, who has helmed web series, Mismatched, an adaptation of Sandhya Menon’s bestseller, When Dimple Met Rishi, says even though there have been terrific film adaptation of novels, a series give a maker better space. 

“Web gives you a lot of room to breathe and explore the characters better. In a film, we have got to be precise and concise. On web, you have the room to expand as you have more time at your disposal. In terms of content per minute there are expectations to keep things moving , while you may get more time to tell stories in a series, you have to pack that time with more things so there is more content to work with,” he shares.

In the recent times, shows such as Bard of Blood, Sacred Games, The Final Call, Selection Day, A Married Woman, Bicchoo Ka Khel and Leila were all adapted from books. So what is the upside of making books into series and whether it is more challenging than adapting into a film?

“While there is fun to be had in both formats, I believe adapting for a series is more tricky and requires more time and effort,” says Gazal Dhaliwal, writer of Mismatched, while adding, “For instance, if When Dimple Met Rishi had to be adapted into a film, it would make for a perfect breezy 100-minute film without any hassle. However, for the series ‘Mismatched’, what the book gave us was a base from where we could take off. It was a great breeding ground for our imagination, but finally, we had to find a much more expansive world of characters and their stories to be able to create a long-format series.” 

While a movie needs one beginning, one middle and one end, for a series, writers notes that one needs to write a beginning, middle and end for each episode in a series, alongside writing an overarching beginning, middle and end for the series as a whole. Sometimes, one also has to find a vision for the characters’ story beyond the book because unlike a film, a series can run into several seasons.

Mohinder Pratap Singh, screenwriter of Dark 7White, which is an adaptation of Dark White by author Shweta Brijpuria, says different books have different challenges.

“ If I have to talk specifically about Dark7White, the main challenge was the POV which is very important when you tell the story cinematically. In this we chose to tell Dark7White from a dead man’s POV. The reason one needs to tweak in this medium is that while in book writer has a liberty to explain what’s going on, in character’s mind, in cinema, we have to show in a way that audience gets exactly what we want them to. These are two different medium hence the tweaking, be it cinema or web-series,” he says.

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