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From books to the silver screen — Ruskin Bond birthday special

The author and screenwriter was born on 19 May 1934. On his 83rd birthday, we take a look at his stories that were given cinematic treatment.


Sukhpreet Kahlon

Arguably one of India’s most adored writers, Ruskin Bond’s stories are enjoyed by children and adults alike. He has written around 300 short stories, novels and essays; with many of his stories being a part of school curricula and adapted into films as well.

He started writing stories at an early age and after completing his schooling in Shimla, he went to London and started publishing his stories. He wrote his first novel, The Room On The Roof at the age of 17 in 1957, he won the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, which was awarded to a British Commonwealth writer under the age of 35. But he soon returned to India and made it his home. On his birthday, we take a look at his stories which inspired some films.

His first story to be adapted into a film was the novella A Flight of Pigeons, set against the backdrop of the Rebellion of 1857. The story explores the real life upheavals in a family as their life transforms as a consequence of the Rebellion.  It was adapted into Shyam Benegal’s Junoon (1978), starring Shashi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, and Naseeruddin Shah. The film largely stayed true to Bond’s story and won the National Award for the Best Feature Film in Hindi in 1979.

Ruskin Bond’s second story to be adapted into a film was The Blue Umbrella (2005), directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. The simple tale of an umbrella offers insights into the worlds of the characters of a sleepy little town, as it unravels their desires and secrets. Starring Pankaj Kapur and Shreya Sharma, the film won the National award for the Best Children’s Film as well.

Although Bond is perhaps best known as a children’s writer, his works explore a variety of genres including love stories, stories about nature and ghost stories. His next work to be adapted into a film was his black comedy, Susanna's Seven Husbands, which in the hands of Bhardwaj became Saat Khoon Maaf (2011).

The story about a woman who kills seven husbands had Priyanka Chopra essaying the role of Susanna, a woman on a quest to find true love and settle down with a suitable husband. But along the way, she finds that after the initial charm and giddiness of a new romance have worn out, the husbands prove rather insufferable. So she dispenses with them, in the hope of someday finding her ideal partner. Bond made a cameo appearance in the film as the church priest who presides over one of Susanna’s weddings.

We look forward to more film adaptations of his works in the future, a murder mystery perhaps?