Rajkummar Rao in 'Monica, O My Darling'© Netflix

5 Bollywood Movies Adapted From Foreign Literature

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

A good story cannot be contained by borders and barriers of language. Over the years, we’ve seen this reflected beautifully in the many Bollywood movies based on international literature, including popular novels and short stories. Indian filmmakers have adapted iconic foreign literature into movies set against a cultural milieu that we’re more familiar with in our country.

Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj is one of the best names in the particular subcategory of page-to-screen adaptation of classics as he has mined Shakespeare’s works for some of the best movies in Indian cinema, like Omkara (adapted from Othello) and Haider (adapted from Hamlet).

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More recently, director Vasan Bala adapted Japanese author Keigo Higashino’s 1989 novel Burutasu No Shinzou for his neo-noir crime thriller Monica, O My Darling.

The movie, starring Huma Qureshi, Rajkummar Rao, and Radhika Apte, is a dark comedy that is filled with enough plot twists to make Abbas Mustan proud and countless pop culture references for eagle-eyed viewers. Another of Higashino’s novels, The Devotion of Suspect X, is being adapted into a Netflix movie starring Kareena Kapoor, Vijay Verma, and Jaideep Ahlawat.

We decided to round up some more Bollywood movies that have been adapted or inspired by international books. Bibliophiles, you don’t want to miss these adaptations. Trust us!

Lootera (2013)

Vikramaditya Motwane’s underrated movie Lootera, starring Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha, was inspired by an O. Henry short story. Based on The Last Leaf, a 1907 short story by the author, the story is set against the backdrop of the Zamindari Abolition Act of the 1950s. It follows the tragic love story between a young con man posing as an archaeologist and the daughter of a Bengali landlord.

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Saawariya (2007)

Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor’s big Bollywood debut vehicle was inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1848 short story White Nights. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the story followed Raj, a singer who falls in love with the mysterious Sakina. But his love story is not without obstacles as Sakina is in love with Imaan, a man who had left her but had promised to return on Eid.

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Sarkar (2005)

Director Ram Gopal Verma was heavily influenced by Francis Ford Coppola’s eponymous adaptation of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. His fascination with the iconic movie resulted in the three-part crime thriller Sarkar series starring Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan. Like its inspiration, the movie is centred around a Godfather-esque Sarkar whose legacy is carried forward by his Michael Corleone-esque son Shankar.

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Masoom (1983)

Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi star in this adaptation of Erich Segal’s Man, Woman, and Child. In the movie, Devendra Kumar’s idyllic family life is turned upside down after the arrival of Rahul, his child from a past affair. His wife Indu, naturally, doesn’t take kindly to the tangible proof of DK’s infidelity and refuses to accept Rahul into her family. A young Urmila Matondkar stars as one of DK’s daughters in the movie.

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Fitoor (2016)

This adaptation of Charles Dickens‘ Great Expectations starred Tabu, Katrina Kaif, and Aditya Roy Kapur. Set in Kashmir, the movie follows Noor, a poor boy who gets hired to be a stable hand at a rich family’s estate. When he begins to get closer to the daughter of the family, the matriarch sends him away and separates them until they reunite years later.

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