Just looking at some of the big films Netflix has put out this year, we can sense a pattern — that book adaptations are on the rise. The Dig by John Preston, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, Always And Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, all found a snug corner on Netflix.
According to a research firm Ampere Analytics, Netflix has 90 TV shows in early development or production based on books and comics — book adaptations lead the way with 60, and the remaining 30 are comic, manga, and game adaptations.
To prepare for the flood of word-to-screen adaptations that are coming our way, here’s a list of books you can start reading, preparing for the adaptation that will hit the small-screen anyday.
Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar (Penguin Books)
Kundalkar first published the book in Marathi in 2006. It was translated to English by Jerry Pinto in 2013. The story follows two siblings, Tanay and Anuja who fall in love with the same young man who comes to stay at their guest house in Pune. In November 2018, Netflix announced its adaptation, written and directed by Kundalkar himself. In Netflix’s latest string of announcements, it was mentioned in a quick glance, so we are expecting a release later this year.
Emergency Retold by Kuldip Nayar (Juggernaut Books) and The Case that Shook India: The Verdict That Led to the Emergency, by Prashant Bhushan (Penguin Books)
Ekta Kapoor tweeted about Verdict 2: The People v/s Indira Gandhi, based on the two above-mentioned books. It will be the second part of ALTBalaji’s Verdict series, the first of which dealt with the Nanavati murder.
Time for Verdict2. The People v/s Indira Gandhi. A woman of worth admiration and critique. Our most ambitious story to tell… based on these in-depth stellar books. @altbalaji @ThisIsHowWeDing @tansworld @ZEE5India #NimishaPandey @dheemanagarwala #NavneetBehal pic.twitter.com/HIAgH08zFb
— Ekta Kapoor (@ektarkapoor) April 6, 2021
In 2018, journalist Sagarika Ghose announced the adaptation of her book Indira, India’s Most Powerful PM, by tagging Vidya Balan in the tweet. Kangana Ranaut too noted this year that she will be playing Indira Gandhi, though it is unclear if it is an author-backed role.
Just signed the contract for movie rights for my book "Indira, India's Most Powerful PM" with @vidya_balan and @roykapurfilms! Utterly elated!! Look fwd to seeing INDIRA on screen! @juggernautbooks #IndiraTheMovie
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) January 10, 2018
Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian (Penguin Books)
Sathian’s debut novel was creating a buzz even before its release. In 2019, Penguin Random House purchased it by participating in a seven-way auction. In February, Mindy Kaling’s production company, Kaling International (Never Have I Ever), announced that it would be adapting Gold Diggers for television, with Sathian as one of the writers. The book is a coming-of-age tale with a pinch of magic-realism. It follows two teenagers, Neil Narayan and Anita Dayal, who grapple with ambition, expectations, and the American dream in the post-9/11 era.
We can’t wait! ❤️
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) February 18, 2021
Vish Dhamija’s Crime Novels (Harper Collins)
Vish Dhamija’s crime novels — Bhendi Bazaar on sex-trafficking, Doosra on diamond theft, and Lipstick on a serial killer — all connected by the strong-willed Mumbai Deputy Commissioner of Police Rita Ferreira, will be adapted as a web series by Abundantia Entertainment (Baby, Airlift, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha and the Amazon Prime Video original series Breathe.) This announcement was made in 2019.
You Beneath Your Skin by Damayanti Biswas (Simon and Schuster)
Set in New Delhi, the book brings together Anjali Morgan, an Indian American psychiatrist raising an autistic son and Jatin Bhatt, an ambitious police commissioner — both of whom are caught in a web of a crime spree of women in slums found stuffed in trash bags. Rights for this book were acquired by Endemol Shine India (Big Boss, It’s My City).
The Ivory Throne by Manu S Pillai (Harper Collins)
Manu S Pillai’s award-winning book The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore on the life and times of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, the last queen of the House of Travancore, will be adapted for the screen by producer Shobu Yarlagadda (Baahubali) of Arka Mediaworks. Yarlagadda noted that this would be a series and not a movie as “only a series can do justice to the depth and extent of the material in the book!”
Excited to have optioned @UnamPillai's work #theIvoryThrone! We @arkamediaworks are so looking forward to adapting this to screen! Its retelling of a very fascinating period in Indian history! Here's hoping we can do justice to Manu's 5 years of hard work!https://t.co/D18StbkcOj
— Shobu Yarlagadda (@Shobu_) March 18, 2019
The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise Of The East India Company by Willian Dalrymple (Bloomsbury)
The Anarchy is being adapted for an international series by Siddharth Roy Kapur. This was announced in November last year though no fresh details have been made available since.
— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) June 23, 2020
I, Phoolan Devi by Phoolan Devi (Little Brown and Company)
Shareen Mantri Kedia, the co-founder of Namah Pictures (Beyond The Clouds, and the web show Karenjit Kaur – The Untold Story of Sunny Leone) noted in 2019 the need to make a series based on the book. Kishor Arora, co-founder of Namah Pictures also noted, “There are important chapters and layers of her life that remain unexplored and the web series format will allow us the bandwidth to do that.”
The Man Who Saved India by Hindol Sengupta (Penguin Books)
The web-series adaptation of this biography on Indian politician Sardar Patel was announced in 2019. The series which will tackle key conflicts of his life — with Subhash Chandra Bose, on Kashmir, and his family — will be produced by Sunil Bohra of Bohra Bros (The Accidental Prime Minister, Gangs of Wasseypur, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster).