Books or biopics : For a complete picture

A slew of biopics in the film industry has led to a renewed interest in biographies that delve into various facets of a personality

May 24, 2018 03:37 pm | Updated 03:37 pm IST

 Biopics are helping viewers turn to books Photos: M. Vedhan, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Biopics are helping viewers turn to books Photos: M. Vedhan, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Biopics offer viewers a chance to delve deep into a personality, also piquing their curiosity to go beyond aspects presented on screen. One can’t expect movies to go full throttle with the detailing and explore different dimensions, given the three-hour span that limits the filmmaker. However, the positives are significant. The fascination for biopics means that it has become a starting point for many to dig into books to understand the individual on a holistic level before/after the movie release.

Given the buzz surrounding Mahanati movie, Vendithera Samragni (by Pallavi) and Karigipoyina Karpura Kalika (by Kampalle Ravichandran), notable biographies on Savithri’s journey have enjoyed immense popularity among book enthusiasts over a few months leading up to the film’s release.

While actor Sanjay Dutt is keen on releasing his autobiography soon, his unofficial biography by Yasser Usman is turning out to be great fodder for publishers and readers as Raj Kumar Hirani’s Sanju awaits release next month.

Writer Aziz’s Palegadu , the only novel available on freedom fighter Uyyalawada Narasimha Reddy’s life, has its exclusivity prior to the release of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy . A handful of biographies based on Kapil Dev, NTR, Manmohan Singh, YSR, Pullela Gopichand and Saina Nehwal are climbing the popularity charts on e-commerce portals ever since their biopics were announced.

“The increased demand for the biographies of these personalities needs to be understood/judged based on the enigma surrounding them. One should also notice the reason behind the popularity of Savithri’s biography; it’s been a long time since a biopic was made in Telugu. The initial readers of the books have mostly been regular readers, while the recent buyers have picked it up due to the film,” says Suribabu of Creative Links Publishers, who published Karigipoyina Karpura Kalika .

  Right turn  Biopics are helping viewers turn to books

Right turn Biopics are helping viewers turn to books

Readers are also eager to know an authentic side to a personality’s life, which movies sometimes miss, for they are sugar-coated and dramatised to ensure popular appeal; the opinion surrounding Dhoni and Sachin’s biopics is proof.

Most biopics go on floors with permissions from the personality or their immediate family members, often leading to a sanitised version of their lives on screen. “People who read biographies before a film’s release are disappointed when they see the movie, since they don’t offer a complete picture. The experience is rewarding if a viewer picks up a book after watching the film,” feels Rajeneesh Chowdary, a bibliophile who prefers biographies to biopics.

The buzz surrounding a biopic also plays a crucial part in prompting people to read biographies. Rudhramadevi’s moderate outcome at the box office didn’t inspire many to read up on Kakatiya era, despite much being documented by historians and novelists.

Biopics in Telugu cinema inspiring viewers to read books are fewer, as we don’t produce many biographies, points out filmmaker Venkat Siddareddy. “The limited access to books on Telugu personalities doesn’t let us do that. Attempts are on to bring out biopics on Chalam, Malli Mastan Babu and Chintakindi Mallesham. This might prompt writers to come up with biographies of inspirational figures from the Telugu states.”

As of now, biopics dealing with figures of national appeal draw more viewers towards books; the wide literature available in English facilitates it. “That works against vernacular languages, the word of mouth and reach is lesser. The writer and his/her content is as important as the personality to entice more readers,” says author Mercy Margaret.

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