Non-fiction, regional language books popular at MAMI’s Word to Screen Market
Over 550 titles ranging across 30 genres and eight languages presented
Stories from small towns, non-fiction narratives, and regional language books emerged as popular choices for audio-visual adaptations at the 4th edition of the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star’s Word to Screen market, held in Mumbai on Monday. A total of 21 publishers and 24 authors pitched their books to 40 content creating companies.
Over 550 titles ranging across 30 genres and eight languages were presented at the market, which brings publishers and audio-visual content creators under one roof. This year, the market also opened its doors to backlist titles from publishers. “We focused more on intimate one-on-one meetings and dropped public pitching [to content creators] completely,” said Anu Singh Choudhary, consultant and expert, Publishing Industry Word to Screen Market 2019.
The festival organisers announced that the market has enabled the optioning of eight books since its inception in 2016, including How I Became a Farmer’s Wife by Yashodhara Lal, Cold Feet by Nikhil Pradhan, The Spectacular Miss by Sonia Bahl and The Masala Murders by Madhumita Bhattacharya. Times Studio Originals has optioned three books by Salil Desai, Killing Ashish Karve, The Murder of Sonia Raikkonen and 3 and a Half Murders; and Roy Kapur Films has optioned Indira: India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister by Sagarika Ghose. To make the optioning process sustainable, the Word to Screen market will take place biannually from 2020. “It won’t be held before the film festival but maybe once in the summer and once in the fall,” said Smriti Kiran, artistic director, MAMI.
Unlike previous editions, where the festival team curated books from publishing houses and authors, the fourth edition invited curated titles of a maximum of 40 books per publisher, including their top five picks. Reflecting on the current social and political issues, Hindi books like Ashok Kumar Pandey’s Kashmirnama (Rajpal and Sons), which documents the political history of the Kashmir Valley, and Rajnish Dhawan’s Amritsar 1919 (Rajpal and Sons), which chronicles the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, generated much curiosity. “Many content creators approached them for the book rights,” said Ms. Choudhary.
With streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime going bullish on content, Arcopol Chaudhuri, rights and backlist manager, HarperCollins Publishers India, said novels which lend themselves to web series are in high demand.
“People want books which are longer and can be made into sequels or seasons,” said Mr. Chaudhuri, adding the rights department is now involved in commissioning of books as well. “If a book has a prospect of becoming a film or web series, there’s a higher chance of it getting commissioned,” he said.