After The Zoya Factor starring Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salmaan, author Anuja Chauhan’s work has once again been adapted for the screen, and this time it is her other popular novel Those Pricey Thakur Girls. Translated for the screen by Habib Faisal, Dil Bekaraar takes back its audiences to the Delhi of the ’80s as they will witness the four Thakur sisters navigate their way through life. The series, releasing on Disney+ Hotstar on November 26, stars Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, Sahher Bambba, Akshay Oberoi and Chandrachur Singh.
Before the release, we had caught up with the author herself, who talked to us about the process of her books being adapted into a screenplay. She also shared her insight on how she doesn’t get too obsessed with her brainchild, her novel.
Excerpts from the interview:
Take us through the entire process of a book being adapted into a screenplay and how it was for you:
There wasn’t really too much for me to do in this because I had immense trust in the people doing this. The executive producer was someone I worked with before and have done some amazing work and then they had an amazing director, with whom I had a meeting, where I saw that there is tremendous love and respect for the source material. I found that very reassuring. They did take my point of view on one major departure in the story; there’s only one thing that they changed and everything else is pretty much as is.
Was there any disagreement regarding the change?
I think that it was a very good call, actually. I understood why they did that and I don’t want to give any spoilers but when you watch the show you realize what it is that they have changed.
So in case of a disagreement, how do you get past that?
I don’t get involved. What I have learned from my day job in advertising is that there is a point that you write a script and then you hand it over to the director. The matter of fact is that a good creative product has to be one person’s vision. Now, a book is my vision and a film adaptation has to be the director’s vision. So if you interfere, it will never result in anything good. And the reason I started writing books is that I like having creative control, and I completely respect somebody else wanting creative control.
What do you think is so special about Those Pricey Thakur girls that it gets adapted again and again?
Firstly, I think that the contract was drawn up really well. I’m sure that my previous books could also be made, subsequently, but during Zoya Factor and Battle For Bittora, I was very new I didn’t understand the legalities. I didn’t draw a strong contract so the rights of the books are with the people who bought them. For Those Pricey Thakur Girls, I was smart enough and older and understood how to make a contract and how to make it time-bound and get the rights back and resell. So I think it’s partly that.
Apart from that, the creative work in itself is a reason. It’s a very eternal story. The themes of five sisters or state-sponsored propaganda versus honest fearless journalism are relevant themes.
And why is a web series better than a film to tell this story?
Because it’s a very layered book. Even in 10 episodes, I feel myself wanting more, and I think that there’s so much that we could have expanded upon. Those Pricey Thakur Girls have lots of layers and a film would have been too short.
How was it watching the actors bringing your characters to life?
It was exciting. The lead actor is brilliantly cast and she has done a great job. You are hooked from the first episode. She’s fiery, but she’s quiet; she doesn’t say much, but she has so much presence. I’m very happy with her casting.
The actors don’t look like the characters in the book. For instance, Padmini Kolhapure plays the ‘chachiji’ and she doesn’t look like her but by the end of it, she completely owns it. The same thing goes for the actor who is playing the character of Dylan.
Even The Zoya Factor had a star cast, yet it didn’t fare well..
I’m no expert on why movies do well or why they don’t do well. Not really my area of expertise, but The Zoya Factor is a tremendously popular novel.
So how do you try not to be involved during the adaptation process?
I wrote the book in 2012, and the film came out in 2013. We are talking almost 10 years ago. So it’s quite easy to be uninvolved. When the book has just come out is when you are at your most possessive and you’re at your most obsessive self.
The watching process can be painful because you watch it your heart in your mouth and you’re like, ‘oh god what are they doing?’ But this time it was not painful. You realize what they know what they’re doing and you can relax and just enjoy.
Finally, what are your expectations from the makers of Dil Bekarar?
Nobody owes me anything, so I don’t have expectations but you just hope that when you have written something, people get what you are trying to say. At the end of the day, you don’t write a book thinking that no one will read it. Those are my usual expectations.