Let literary text become images

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Theodore Baskaran. Photo: G. Moorthy.
Theodore Baskaran. Photo: G. Moorthy.

Staff Reporter

Theodore Baskaran, consultant, National Film Archives, tells filmmakers

MADURAI: Literature is made of words and cinema of images. Filmmakers should adapt literature to cinema and allow literary text to undergo metamorphosis to become images because cinema is all about viewing experience and not listening experience, according to Theodore Baskaran, consultant, National Film Archives, Pune.

Mr. Baskaran was speaking on `From print to screen: Literature and cinema in South India' at a meeting organised by Study Centre for Indian Literature in English and Translation at American College here on Tuesday.

Writers worked with words while filmmakers had to work with images, as they were evocative. "Images are the core of cinema and they are primordial. Our thoughts are images and we dream in images and this is the power of images," he said. "In language, constant coding and decoding take place whereas in images they are direct."

He said that a successful adaptation of a literary work into a film should have three characteristics the filmmaker should concentrate on the spirit of the novel than the literary letters; camera should interpret the novel rather than illustrate the story and novelists and filmmakers might share the same ideology. Briefing on the two major differences between the two, Dr. Baskaran said that while reading a novel the reader had the control over the progress but cinema moved at 24 frames per second. Besides, in literature, readers would be able to create their own world of characters based on facts provided by the author.

India's great films, which were critically acclaimed, were literary adaptations. Satyajit Ray's `Pather Panjali' had found a place for India at the international film map, he said. "Out of 10 best films, 9 are literary adaptations."

Filmmakers should know the language, syntax and grammar of cinema and take technical and aesthetic decisions and it would be difficult to separate "how you are saying and what you are saying."

One of the major problems was `songs' that interrupted filmic narrative as the literary work did not provide space for songs. Songs should be integrated with the narrative or otherwise they would kill the ideological impact of the films.

Public speech

In the beginning of cinema era, filmmakers used mythological stories where the scope for telling the story was not rested on them.

Later, the Dravidian leaders used the art of public speech in films.

As a result, the protagonist rendered long monologues crippling the movement of the camera.




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