The big-screen adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning short-story collection, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ will be made into a trilogy, filmmaker Amitav Kaul has revealed.
The book contains nine separate stories which are not connected although Kaul has revealed that the film version will see characters either related or “separated by three degrees”.
Published in 1999, ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ is a publishing sensation selling millions of copies around the world.
The short stories tell the emotional stories of Indian immigrants in America, partly drawn from the stories of Lahiri’s own family.
Born in London to Bengali parents, Lahiri and her family moved to the United States when she was just two.
Much like in the short stories, the film trilogy will be based in Kolkata and Boston.
Kaul, whose previous credits include commercials for companies such as Coke and Sony as well as music videos, is currently shooting the India segment of the first part in Kolkata and Odisha.
The first instalment will tackle the first three stories of the book – ‘A Temporary Matter’, ‘When Mr Pirzada Came to Dine’ and ‘Interpreter of Maladies’.
Kaul says he has been a long-time fan of Lahiri’s work, in particular the ‘Interpreter of Maladies’.
“It is something which is very personal to me and will stay throughout my life not just as an Indian or American but as an immigrant. That is the connection I have with the book. People related to it and loved it. It is a universally loved set of nine stories,” he said.
As a Kashmiri-Pandit, Kaul says that the book has even more resonance for him on a personal level.
“I have interpreted my own maladies through this project. It has transformed my life. I felt connected to it personally because Bengali culture and Kashmiri culture are very similar. I felt a cultural connection between the two,” he said.
The sheer scale of the project and fine-tuning the project has taken the best part of Kaul’s time since he first announced his plan to adapt the book back in 2003.
The director and producer is currently fundraising for the project at the International Film Festival of India in Goa.
The film is among the projects shortlisted by the National Film Development Corporation of India for their co-production market.
“It started to come together last year during pre-production. We have since been working towards getting the right partners on board to finance the film,” said Kaul.