Films, soaps revive commercial value of books

By Shweta Thakur

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) It's a perfectly symbiotic relationship. The formula of turning bestsellers into feature films or serials often proves profitable. Interestingly, the trend works the other way as well with book sales soaring as soon as a film or soap based on it hits the screen.

It makes perfect business sense either way.

To cash in on the trend, leading media and entertainment company STAR India recently joined hands with Prakash Books to publish nearly 300 titles based on TV serials by the end of 2008.

Eminent poet and filmmaker Gulzar recently unveiled his book, "Two Tales Of My Times". The book encompasses two stories of the 1980s - "New Delhi Times" and "Maachis" - on which films have already been made.

Gulzar had earlier produced 15 hours of video on Munshi Premchand's famous novels, "Godan" and "Nirmala", to attract readers to the books. He is now working on a 15-hour video on Rabindranath Tagore and his workers.

"At a time, when youngsters are glued to Internet and television channels, you cannot feed them forcefully. We must provide what youngsters want to read," Gulzar explained.

While Gulzar's efforts are more cerebral, the cause and effect equation can be seen almost instantly when it comes to a mass medium like television.

One latest instance is the saga of warrior king Prithiviraj Chauhan that unfolded on television, and led to increase in sales of books on him.

"Before the serial on Prithviraj Chauhan came on television, we used to sell around 1,000 copies of books a year related to the warrior king. But after the serial came on television, we sold more than 10,000 books per annum," said Abhimanyu Gupta, owner of the bookshop Abhimanyu Prakashan in west Delhi's Rana Pratap Bagh.

"Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel 'Devdas' has been getting good response over the years as a number of Hindi films have been made on the book," Gupta told IANS.

Recent animation films "Hanuman" and "Hanuman Returns" have increased the sale of children's books related to the Hindu deity.

"After the release of animation film "Hanuman", we started selling 50 percent more books on Lord Hanuman. The reason is the visual medium has a greater impact on viewers," said publisher Manoj Sharma of Kitabghar Prakashan.

Agreed Amrita Talwar, media and networking officer of Katha, a non-profit organisation, which works in the areas of education, publishing and community development.

"The sales of our book 'Hanuman's Adventure in the Nether World' shot up by 10 percent after the film "Hanuman" was released."

There are many others.

"Mirza Ghalib", "Devi Chaudharani", "Hatim, Aladdin", "Sindbad the Sailor", "Vikram-Betal", "Tales of Panchatantra", "Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam", Premchand's "Sadgati" and "Nirmala" are some of the books whose sales spiralled after the soap operas made on them.

Ditto with films like "Devdas", "Parineeta", "Gandhi My Father", "Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda", "Naya Daur", and "Shatranj Ke Khiladi", "Seva Sadan", "Godhuli", "Gaban" "Godaan" and "Mazdoor" that contributed in a big way to reviving interest in the novels on which they were based.

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