In what is a first-of-its-kind move for Indian cinema, the makers of this week's release Gour Hari Dastaan have released the screenplay of the film before its release. The book, jointly penned by renowned journalist and novelist CP Surendran and the film's director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan, was released on Tuesday.
Now for the first time you can read the screenplay before watching the movie.
— Gour Hari Dastaan (@gourharidastaan) August 11, 2015
In a phone conversation with HuffPost India, Surendran said that they released the screenplay as a means to market the film, which documents the real-life struggle of 84-year-old freedom fighter Gour Hari Das to be recognised for his role in India's independence from British rule. "Aside from being a talking point, the screenplay is a way for aficionados to see how the words have been translated by Ananth [Mahadevan] into actions and gestures," he said. The published screenplay also includes "five or six scenes" that haven't made the final cut, he added.
Surendran, a published poet and novelist who has worked in several publications in his career and was editor-in-chief of DNA until April, says he was initially hesitant to write the screenplay (his first) when approached by Mahadevan. "When I first met Gour Hari Das in person, he didn't strike me as very interesting from a biopic point of view," he said. "I found that he was an extremely happy and secure human being and it was very difficult to find a conflict point that would make his story interesting to watch on screen."
Eventually, he took a number of cinematic liberties in order to add conflict to Das's story, which involved patiently knocking on the doors of government offices for more than three decades in order to win his battle. One of them is showing that Das was facing Alzheimer's disease, an illness that afflicted Surendran's own father. "In reality, he was quite content to go on persevering and fighting against the government," he said. "In the film, it's a race against time; he has to win his battle for freedom before he forgets what the word 'freedom' even means."
With two days to go before the film hits theatres, Surendran is full of praise for the film, maintaining that he would've felt the same way even if he hadn't been involved. "The performances are fantastic and Ananth is a stickler for realistic, documentary-like details," he said. "I feel it was really sidelined at the National Awards [announced in March] this year. I'm not saying Court was a bad film at all, but Gour Hari Dastaan has a lot of emotional pull."
The film stars Vinay Pathak as Das, as well as Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey, amongst others.
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