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Have You Watched These Bollywood Movies Based On Works Of Literature?

Do you prefer to read the book, or watch the movie, or both?

When we say Devdas, what do you think of? The iconic 2002 film starring SRK, Madhuri Dixit, and Aishwarya Rai, or the older, 1955 version starring Dilip Kumar, Suchitra Sen, and Vyjayanthimala? Perhaps you're more millennial and you first recall the wonderful Dev.D from 2009 that featured Abhay Deol as the troubled lead? Or are you more of a web series person and your go-to is 2017's gender-flipped Dev DD?

Mega Bollywood

Whichever version you may like the most, all these films share a common source: Devdas, a 1917 Bengali novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

This is but one example of the utter magic that the combination of Bollywood and books has resulted in.

Basically, 📚 + 🎥 = ✨😍🥰💓🔥 💕😘💖

PVR Pictures

Bollywood has some really great movies based on works on literature. How many of these have you watched?

1. Maqbool (2004)

Irrfan looking disappointed in a still from Maqbool.
Kaleidoscope Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

Based on: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

The first of Vishal Bhardwaj's "Shakespeare Trilogy", Maqbool featured the always amazing Irrfan as the titular Maqbool/Macbeth, and a stellar Tabu as Nimmi/Lady Macbeth. Rounding off the cast are Pankaj Kapur, Om Puri, and Naseeruddin Shah. The movie received both critical and commercial acclaim.

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2. Omkara (2006)

Saif smiles in Omkara.
Shemaroo Entertainment

Based on: Othello by William Shakespeare  

Also by Vishal Bhardwaj, Omkara stars Ajay Devgn as Omkara/Othello, with an ensemble cast of Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vivek Oberoi, and Bipasha Basu. The film also won three awards at the Kara Film Festival, an award at the Asian Festival of First Films, three National Film Awards, and nine Filmfare Awards.

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3. Haider (2014)

Shahid and Tabu take a walk in Haider.
UTV Motion Pictures

Based on: Hamlet by William Shakespeare  

In the third (and till now, final) of Vishal Bhardwaj's Shakespearean adaptations, Shahid Kapoor is the titular Haider/Hamlet, along with Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, and the wonderful duo from Maqbool, Tabu and Irrfan. Haider was the first Indian film to receive the People's Choice Award at the Rome Film Festival. It also won five National Film Awards, five Filmfare awards, and nine IIFA awards, among many others.

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No wonder Professor Jonathan Gil Harris called Shakespeare "Bollywood’s most successful screenplay writer," considering how there are so many film adaptations of (or films "inspired" by) his plays. But there are various other writers whose books have been made into acclaimed and/or popular films. Read on...

4. Parineeta (2005)

Saif and Vidya smile and sing in Parineeta.
Vinod Chopra Productions

Based on: Parineeta by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay     

This film is the talented Vidya Balan's debut, opposite Saif Ali Khan, and has various references and allusions to Bengali and other Indian literature and cinema. It received critical acclaim and won four Filmfare Awards, a National Award, and was also screened at various international film festivals. The gorgeous soundtrack is a welcome bonus.

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5. 7 Khoon Maaf (2011)

Priyanka hugs her co-star in 7 Khoon Maaf.
UTV Motion Pictures

Based on: Susanna's Seven Husbands by Ruskin Bond     

Another Vishal Bhardwaj adaptation, this movie features Priyanka Chopra as Susanna, a beautiful woman with *ahem* deadly tendencies. This black comedy comes with mesmerising performances, memorable dialogues, and the gorgeously sung and produced Darling. It won several awards, including Filmfare Awards, Screen Awards, and the Producers Guild Film Awards.

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6. Aisha (2010)

The female leads of Aisha attend a party.
Anil Kapoor Films Company

Based on: Emma by Jane Austen     

Austen's Emma already had an iconic adaptation in the form of Clueless from 1995 (a movie that is one of my all-time comfort watches), but Aisha shifts the action to upper-class elite Delhi circles, and stars Sonam Kapoor as the spoilt and bratty but tender-hearted Aisha/Emma. The film received positive reviews, and is warmly feel-good, nice to look at, and set to a wonderful soundtrack by Amit Trivedi. 

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7. Lootera (2013)

Sonakshi paints while Ranveer looks on in a still from Lootera.
Balaji Motion Pictures

Based on: The Last Leaf by O. Henry  

Some of us may remember this short story by O. Henry from our school days, but even if you are unfamiliar with the narrative, the simple, human story manages to touch your heart. Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh star as star-crossed lovers in this period drama. The movie received both critical and commercial acclaim, along with many awards and nominations. Amit Trivedi's marvellous songs and background score add to the atmosphere of the film.

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8. Raazi (2018)

Vicky and Alia smile at each other in a still from Raazi.
Dharma Productions

Based on: Calling Sehmat by Harinder S. Sikka

A film that is often left out of book adaptations lists because the source material is not by a white writer of classics, Raazi is a fantastic example of how streamlined direction, a gripping story, and talented actors can make a movie perfect. The movie became the second film with a female lead to gross more than ₹100 crore in India, and also received various accolades, awards, and critical acclaim.

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9. Kai Po Che! (2013)

The male leads of Kai Po Che stare at someone in a still from the film.
UTV Motion Pictures

Based on: The 3 Mistakes of My Life by Chetan Bhagat

Don't lie — When you clicked on this article, you knew we'd get to Chetan Bhagat eventually. Whatever may be said about the source material, this adaptation by Abhishek Kapoor is a warm, touching portrayal of friendship and love, driven by the wonderful trio of Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao, and Amit Sadh. The film was also a critical and commercial success. While 3 Idiots is the Chetan Bhagat adaptation that gets all the limelight, this underrated film will steal your heart.

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10. Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977)

The stars of Shatranj Ke Khilari play a game of chess in a still from the film.
Suresh Jindal

Based on: Shatranj Ke Khilari by Munshi Premchand

And finally, we end with a classic, which is Satyajit Ray's only Hindi full-length film. Shatranj Ke Khilari has Amjad Khan, Richard Attenborough, Sanjeev Kumar, and Saeed Jaffrey as the lead cast, along with Shabana Azmi, Farooque Shaikh, Farida Jalal, David Abraham, Tom Alter, and Amitabh Bachchan in supporting roles. Premchand's masterful storytelling, Ray's expert direction, and the sheer talent of the cast all add up into a classic that everyone must watch at least once. The film received praise in both India and abroad, received various awards including two National Awards and three Filmfare Awards, and was India's entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards for that year.

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11. Bonus: Ray (2021)

A bespectacled Manoj Bajpayee smiles in a still from Ray.
Viacom18 Studios

Based on: Various stories by Satyajit Ray

While not a mainstream "Bollywood film" and thus not technically falling in the ambit of this list, this Netflix anthology ambitiously seeks to adapt four different stories by the illustrious Satyajit Ray into short standalone features made for contemporary audiences. The result is an off-beat and gripping anthology that leaves one with many new perspectives about how we see the world today, along with an introduction to Ray for those of us unversed with his literary works.

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Which ones did I miss? Comment below!