Nagesh Kukunoor's children's film Dhanak gets novelised

Nagesh Kukunoor's children's film Dhanak gets novelised

Children’s author Anushka Ravishanker’s new book is a novel adaptation on the soon-to-be released film Dhanak by Nagesh Kukunoor, which has won multiple international awards so far.

A quest for ‘unusual and interesting stories’ led Ravishanker, an award winning writer and playwright herself who has written over 25 books so far, to attempt the novelisation.

“There are some really unusual and interesting stories being told in children’s films, which are very different from the kind of stories we find being written for children’s books. It has often occurred to us that some of those films would make wonderful books,” Ravishanker told PTI.

The Hindi film narrates the adventures a blind boy, Chotu, and his sister, Pari who are orphans and live with their uncle and aunt in a village in Rajasthan. Pari promises Chotu that he will have his eyesight back by his ninth birthday.

On seeing a campaign poster with Shah Rukh Khan that urges people to ‘Donate Your Eyes’, Pari starts writing letters to Khan, asking him to give Chotu his eyesight.

There is no reply, however and one day Pari hears that the superstar is in Rajasthan shooting for a film. The film shows the children embarking on a road trip to find him.
The film adaption, which was done in a record span of seven days, says the author is something that doesn’t seem to have been done before with children’s films in India and she thought it would be an exciting thing to attempt.

Ravishankar is the co-founder of publishing house Duckbill Books, whose members heard about Dhanak and contacted one of the producers who sent them a preview of the film.

“We saw it and thought it would make a great book.... So I wrote the book and we sent it to press at record speed, in order to have it ready by the time the film was released!,” she says. The book is expected to hit stands before the film, which has a scheduled release date of June 17.

While the author says she tried to remain as true to the film as possible, she introduced into the book elements that are not in the film, that recreates the colourful and visually attractive scenes of Rajasthan.

“Of course, given the difference in form, there are elements in the book that were not in the film. I had to choose a Point Of View, I had to replace dialogue and visuals with interior monologue and description.

“I had to change the sequence slightly in a couple of places for similar reasons ... so that it’s possible to read the book as a standalone novel. But otherwise, the book is very faithful to the film,” Ravishanker says.

While the film is narrated through Chotu’s point of view, the book is told through Pari’s point of view. To understand the film and its essence, the author spoke with director Kukunoor to clear doubts, understand certain characters and motivations, clarify a few plot points and so on. One of the producers Elahe Hiptoola provided valuable feedback.

Ravishankar’s interview with the film’s two young protagonists is included in the book.The author says adapting stories, of which she has done plenty like for example The Arabian Nights, is a lot different from writing a movie novelisation as the latter had to stay true to dialogue and storylines, which is not a criterion for the former.

In theory there, she says it is the first among many future novelisations, but in reality will depend on many factors.

“Finding a film that we think would work as a book, the owners of the property wanting to do this and things working out on the financial front. But in theory, yes, it could be!” says Ravishanker.

Meanwhile, the film, which premiered at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival and won the Crystal Bear Grand Prix for Best Children’s Film. It also garnered the Best Film Award in the main category in Sneakers film festival and the Best Film Award at the Montreal International Children’s Film Festival.