Films, TV shows, and now web series – many find their inspirations in books. The bibliophile can watch his imagination come to life on a web series today. Production houses bring to life a reader’s chimaera, through their own interpretations of books that have been written and have gained an enviable fan following. The age of the internet has meant that a sizeable number of people around the world have been able to get access to and enjoy streaming services that are working to expand their subscriber base and grab eyeballs. The soap opera cum film watching experience has become advanced and fine-tuned since web series were created for the first time in the 1990s and literature has provided adequate stimulus to a growing industry that is buoyed up by the ‘being glued to the net’ phenomenon.
Sacred Games, streaming site Netflix’s first original Indian series, is based on acclaimed novelist Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel of the same name. A visual realisation of Chandra’s book about cops and robbers, the series depicts the rise of local gangster Ganesh Gaitonde, while demonstrating how politicians push the buttons impressing upon corrupt policemen to act in their interests. The cast of the crime-drama that swish-swashes from scene to scene includes eminent Bollywood actors such as Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and the upcoming Radhika Apte. It is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap.
From teen flicks to drug cartel drama to political thrillers, web series draw viewers in in novel and engaging ways. A favourite novel for adaptations has been Pride and Prejudice and The Lizzy Bennet Diaries is a story on vlogs on YouTube. Starring Ashley Clements, Daniel Vincent Gordh and Laura Spencer and directed by Bernie Su and Margaret Dunlap, The… Diaries echoes sentiments akin to the book, where Lizzie’s mother tries to quickly match a wealthy new boy in town with one of her daughters.
Indian web series Dev DD, based on classic novel Devdas by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay reverses character traits and challenges stereotypes. Devika is nothing like the average girl. One might say she is more like a boy. The web series aims to break with convention by portraying a woman who does everything that traditionally society might frown upon – drink, smoke, and buy sanitary pads without a cover. She meets a man who breaks her heart and, at the risk of sounding smutty, posters of the series announces that it is “wilder than your imagination”. The series stars Aasheema Vardhan, Akhil Kapur and Sanjay Suri and is directed by Ken Ghosh.
Jenji Kohan’s Orange is the New Black, which stars Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon among others, is based on Piper Kerman’s book Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. The series is a true story that revisits the time the author spent in prison. The series starts with scenes alternating between Chapman’s time before surrendering and her time in jail. The series depicts a nervous Chapman as she enters jail… getting acquainted with fellow inmates, witnessing lesbianism and getting served a used tampon for breakfast for having mistakenly insulted the cook.
A would-be Secretary of State is overlooked… He goes on to try and manipulate circumstances to benefit himself, supported by a wife who understands and encourages his desire to wrest power from rivals in House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Inspired by a book of the same name (along with a BBC mini-series), the series has been directed by more than one director. Says Hiteshi Parekh, Mumbai-based Fragrance Development Manager, “I really liked House of Cards. It’s about a race to be in power where they show the campaigning. It’s relatable.”
There are series that even help teens deal with issues – getting into bad company, dating the wrong guy and making mistakes whose repercussions prove to be costly. 13 Reasons Why featuring Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford, based on a book by Jay Asher, throws light on issues faced at school and among friends growing up.
Says student Advait Shah, about the Brian Yorkey show which shows high-schooler Hannah Baker taking her own life and leaving behind 13 tapes to explain why “The series tries to say that one shouldn’t take their own life like Hannah Baker. One should seek counselling. I have heard about these series through word-of-mouth.”
The World Wide Web is brimming with mafia movies, sci-fi thrillers and other adaptations of books that have not only made reading a pleasure but also heralded viewing pleasure for those who look forward to seeing their budding imaginations crystallise through the internet.