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RK Narayan’s Death Anniversary: A Look at Screen Adaptations of His Works

R K Narayan

R K Narayan

Such was his brilliance that though he breathed his last in Chennai on May 13, 2001, at the age of 94, the stalwart’s enigmatic writings remain alive.

RK Narayan, the man who infused life into the fictitious town of Malgudi, is fondly remembered for his remarkable contributions to the Indian Writings in English.

His unique, lucid style of writing had a charming quality to it. Such was his brilliance that though he breathed his last in Chennai on May 13, 2001, at the age of 94, the stalwart’s enigmatic writings remain alive.

His exceptional calibre embodied through his notable literary works (The Bachelor of Arts, Swami and Friends, The English Teacher, Mr Sampath), drew his comparisons with the likes of some of the world’s renowned writers such as William Faulkner, Anton Chekhov, Guy De Maupassant, O Henry.

The leading author was a prolific writer who left an indelible mark. His writings inspired many noteworthy screen adaptations.

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As we pay tribute to the great author on his 20th death anniversary, let’s look at the screen adaptations of his works:

Malgudi Days (1986): The iconic character Swami made its way to our hearts through this show. This hugely popular TV program that was aired on Doordarshan, was based on his short stories collections ‘Malgudi Days’, ‘A Horse and Two Goats’, ‘An Astrologer’s Day and other short stories’.Also, featuring 2 of his novels, Swami and Friends, and The Vendor Sweets, the television series (4 seasons) was directed by Shankar Nag, and the eye-catching sketches throughout the series were done by R.K.Laxman who was Narayan’s brother.

The Guide (1965): This widely read, super successful novel The Guide earned Narayan the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award. The book’s relatability and popularity caught the attention of Bollywood and it went on to be made into the iconic film by the same name.

The role of the tour guide Raju was essayed by the superstar Dev Anandand Waheeda Rahmanportrayed Rosy in the screen adaptation. Vijay Anand’s movie Guide won Filmfare Best Film Award; and got selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 38th Academy Awards.

Banker Margayya (1983): Narayan’s novel The Financial Expert revolving around money, lust, and greed, inspired director TS Nagabharana to make a Kannada movie based on it. He adapted it to a movie named ‘Banker Margayya’ that went on to win the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada.It starred Lokesh (who won the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Actor), Jayanthi, Sundar Raj.

All the above-mentioned 3 movies had Malgudi as the setting.

Mr. Sampath (1952):The movie is based on Narayan’s 1949 novel ‘Mr Sampath – The Printer of Malgudi’. S.S.Vasan directed stars of that era Motilal (who played the role of manipulative Mr.Sampath) and Padmini (who essayed theatre actress’ part) in this movie. The movie did not do well at the box office but was well received by the critics.

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first published:May 13, 2021, 08:56 IST