From Folk to Film: Adaptation of an Indian Folktale Across Genre
Panel:Adaptations of South Asian Narratives Across Time and Space
Indian folklorist and author Vijaydan Detha spent his life collecting folktales from Rajasthan, India. In this paper, I explore a folktale titled Duvidha (The Dilemma) from Detha’s collection of recreated folktales. The transcreation of this folktale across diverse, yet interconnected genres of Rajasthani vaat, short story and Bollywood cinema are interpreted. The multi-tiered adaptation of Duvidha, from folktale(an oral version that I recorded in my recent fieldwork) to a Rajasthani short story, to translated stories and then, two Bollywood films, produced 28 years apart, are being utilised to understand the changing socio-cultural context of a 300 word folktale. By looking at these adaptations across genre and time, this paper explores the packaged worldview, the perpetuated beliefs and the upheld values in each rendition that is an interpretation in turn. The transformation of the core message that inevitably follows the changing authors, audiences and disciplines of this ‘text’ is utilised to understand the dynamic and dramatic nature of the changing folk, both in form and value. For instance, the revisions and recreations in every adaptation lead to the potential for subversion and resistance by the female protagonist.Furthermore, a comparative analysis of adaptations within genre explains the change in value, for example, of a bollywoodisation of culture.The unique genre of folktale-inspired-fiction is utilised to study the skilful merging of traditional storytelling with modern literary techniques.Finally, the inconsistency in acknowledgement of Detha’s folk sources is used to answer the vexing question of authorship associated with the folk and its adaptation.