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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Ponniyin Selvan
Now, that is my Lord of the Rings.
If I ever get to make it into a film, then wouldn�t that be interesting?
If there is one book that deserves, and is just waiting to be translated into screen material, then to me right now, this would be it. I used to subscribe to the hardnosed and prejudiced conservative school of thought that believed that serials, written or televised, are pieces of bastard literature. Now I have changed my mind.
Bastard can be looked at as impure, but at the same time, bastards are not inbred and are therefore great for biodiversity (linguistic and stylistic diversity in the case of art and literature).
The serial medium brings with it a unique aesthetic that has its own role when it comes to public discourse and artistic expression. Therefore, granting the serial this legitimacy, I feel even more compelled to translate it into screen; the bigger challenge is in adapting it to feature-length for the big screen.
I can say with confidence that I can do it, because I feel Ponniyin Selvan, the serial, has not yet found its form. Or even if it has, then its greatness lies in its translatability.
Most characters, plot & premises, and events in Ponniyin Selvan, much like in The Lord of the Rings are not novel. I would not say that they were not so when they first came out. As these two works have been great source of inspiration for a lot many creators, they appear �regular� in retrospect: much like the Psycho shower scene. Nevertheless, there can only be one original shower scene; likewise despite a hundred clones and variants, there can be only one Nandini and one Vanthiyathevan.
Despite all this, what appeals to me most are the hidden treasures offered by Kalki. Unexplored story dimensions and characters. The first serialised telling of the story in the 50�s was suited to, and sufficiently pioneering for the tastes and sensibilities of the period. Half a century later, the same strategies of �telling� cannot be used for the same effect. Therefore, if I am to retell Ponniyin Selvan, I have to find out what my aim is. Is it to exploit the nostalgia of an older generation of readers? Is it to rekindle interest in a new generation of readers? Is it to reinvent it in my style? Is it to remain faithful to Kalki? Or do I do what Kalki did in his time: retell history imaginatively? (Of course in this case, it would be retelling creatively, an imaginative retelling of history).
In all these cases, one thing remains certain: the core of the story is timeless; it is merely the retelling that has a shelf life. Every artist wants immortality for his/her creation; and much like people finding partial immortality by passing on genes, works of art too passes on things they originally inherited from their sources.

6:00 pm



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