There are four essays on two kinds of filmic translation – adaptation and remake - in this section, including a Feature Article by Swarnavel Eswaran. The essays were papers presented at two Annual International Conferences of Caesurae Collective Society in 2017 and 2018. The essays discussing film adaptation with specific texts and contexts move away from the discourse of fidelity to the original, and characterization of the source text as the final word that is to be rendered as such in another medium or language; instead, they bring to the fore a variety of understandings of the relationship between the prior and later texts. In one instance, the source text is conceptualized as a broad structure/frame to work out specific and local concerns and themes in the adapted films (Shakespeare’s King Lear is discussed in Eswaran’s essay “Adaptation as Cultural Appropriation: Transnational Frames and Local Flavours” as providing the frame for working out the intricacies of plot and narrative very differently in Kurosawa’s 1985 film Ran and the 1955 Tamil film Gunasundari. In another instance, the source text in adaptation is seen as a starting point for detailing, elaboration, and for spawning off new narratives in adaptation (in the essay titled “Films in Adaptation: Bioscopewala and Lootera”, Rabindranath Tagore’s short story “Cabuliwalah” and O’Henry’s short story “The Last Leaf” are seen as take-off points for narrative elaboration in the films Bioscopewala  and Lootera ). In a third instance, the source text of a time farther in the past is seen as being given an ‘after-life’ in the present via a film adaptation (in the essay titled “Film Adaptation of Manto’s four Short Stories” Saadat Hasan Manto’s dark stories are seen as being brought to life in the present in the 2017 film Mantostan, a film which the author says we will appreciate more if we evaluate it on its own terms, rather than in comparison with Manto’s stories). The attempt in these essays is to rationalize and account for what the filmic text has made of its literary predecessor.
If Eswaran’s essay looks at how the specific details are worked out borrowing the broad structure of the preceding text, the essay on film remakes (“Lost or not in Translation: The Curious Case of Gangs of Ghosts and Dhadak”) discusses what is lost when the details are lost in the course of remaking, and how a flattening out of specificities happens when Bollywood remakes films from other Indian languages, in this case from Bengali and Marathi.
With several thriving film industries in different languages in India, and rich and diverse practice of literary transactions between and among different Indian languages, as also with English, with literature spawning off adaptations and a film’s success in one language spawning off remakes in others, we have a rich tapestry woven by the movement of texts across different times, languages and media – a characteristic aspect of the Indian cultural landscape. The Film Studies section of Caesurae Journal hopes that the contributors’ articles to this section will serve not only to document such transactions between different languages and media but also will bring out the complexities and specificities of such transactions.
Adaptation as Cultural Appropriation: Transnational Frames and Local Flavors – Swarnavel Eswaran (1-32)