Adapting A Screenplay

Audience have been throwing allegations and condemnation on some adapted scripts, produced in Nigerian entertainment industry. Particularly hausa film industry. Well, it depends on how the audience perceived the code of producing movies. Objective critic is in order, contrary to it, always come from people with myopic and pessimistic nature of thinking.

Most Kannywood audience don’t bother to understand the issues of stories/screenplays. I’ve seen people shocked at the realization that all the dialogues in a movie is written by a script writer. Sometime ago, Kannywoodscene asked its followers to mention some of the industry’s script writers, the responses were utterly poor. No wonder you have statements like “they stole the story from” whenever people see the adaptation/remake of the movie they knew.

Generally, adapted screenplay is a screenplay that interprets another source, like a novel, a short story, a play, or even another film.

Creating an adapted screenplay is a challenging process. A writer may or may not be concerned with being faithful to an original work, and sometimes, the author of the original work has enough power to exert considerable influence over the screenplay writing process.

The writer of the screenplay adaptation, however, is trying to morph one form of art into another. Film is a different medium than a play, a novel, or a short story, and what works in a particular source may not translate well to a film. As a result, the adapted screenplay is always a critical interpretation of the work, rather than an exact copy. In fact, sometimes the most faithful copies of a work make poor films.

It is clear, plays, novels, and some movies have garnered positive responses from audiences, as it generates immediate curiosity. This is why film makers believe by keeping the original essence intact, they can take creative liberty, add special effects, new and different characters and musical tracks. They equally feel that films based on popular plays stand a high chance of seeing success..

Adapting a screenplay has its originality right from the inception, not just kannywood films. Bigger movie industries like Hollywood and Bollywood adapt stories from other movies and novels. “Total Recall” is a 2012 American dystopian science fiction action film, and it’s a remake of the 1990 film of the same name. Few months ago, I watched “Oz The Great and Powerful” by Disney, 2013. And it’s original script was produced in 1980, as “Wizard of Oz”. There are many.

Considering the award presentation in the history of movie making, the Academy Award for the Best Adapted Screenplay is one of the most noticeable and most prominent film awards in the United States. It is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source (usually a novel, play, short story, or TV show but sometimes another film), and Chris Terrio, who adapted “Argo” took home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2013 Oscars. All sequels are automatically considered adaptations by this standard (since the sequel must be based on the original story).

There are hundreds of bollywood movies that are either remakes, inspired, or adapted from a novel or a Hollywood movie. Movies like “Devdas” “3 Idiots” and “Maqbool” are adaptations of Chattopadhayay, Five Point Someone and Macbeth. All novels. While “Fanaa”, “Humrazz”, “Players”, “We Are Family” and “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” are from “Eye of The Needle”, “A Perfect Murder”, “The Italian Job”, “Step Mom” and “The End of The Affair” respectively. All Hollywood movies.

Coming back to Nigeria, Nollywood adapted stories from novels, Hollywood and Indian cinema. Ola Rotimi’s The god’s Are Not To Blame, Chimamanda’s Half Of A Yellow Sun are good examples. “When The King Decides” was totally a remake of “Coming To America” and several others.
The Hausa film industry drew a lot from storylines and casts from indian love and thriller movies due to cultural affinity. Movies like “So”, “Katanga” and “Zuri’a” are adaptations of “Mohabbatein”, “Aitbaar” and “We’re Family”. “Mune Kannywood” is a remake of Nollywood comedy “Nollywood Husslers” while others like “Kalamu Wahid” and “Matar Hamza” are adapted from novels.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in remaking films that suit Kannywood or african audience and fit into our purview and environment as long as it is skillfully made. Many people do not get the opportunity to watch foriegn movies, but it is easier to lay hands on a Kannywood movie. We have always seen it happening more internationally, so it’s a good thing that it’s taking place here too.

Some classic plays which have been a favourite with the audience and are no longer being staged have a strong recall value. So films based on such scripts are likely to garner good response. Another advantage is that majority of the Hausa audience cannot connect and comprehend the original plays from Bollywood/Hollywood in their language, they can easily watch the films adapted by Kannywood and connect with the original screenplay.

I’m not advocating that we abandon creativity and engage in remaking movies. It’s refreshing to have fresh and innovative products that keep film viewing an ever changing past time. It’s what the public want, and our script writers are really trying in producing such new products. However, it’s increasingly difficult to have something completely original or doesn’t borrow from something else in our movies nowadays. Even the movies that we think are original were riddled with cliches. But that’s not an excuse for us to stop trying.

By – Muhammad Mu’azu
Twitter – @Ya_Muhammad
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