Posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009 by Peter Sciretta
Last week it was revealed that Danny Boyle had purchased the screen rights to Suketu Mehta‘s 2004 book Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found. The Telegraph has learned that Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire scribe Simon Beaufoy has been hired to pen the screenplay adaptation. The screenwriter says that adapting a non fictional tale for the screen will require creative license, something the original author has granted him.
Maximum City is a non-fiction work, so it will be a huge challenge to find the story in it. It is a wonderful book and I used it in my initial research for Slumdog. There are some great characters in the book, but no stories, so my job will be to get the fictional out of a non-fictional story. Suketu is very understanding about my creative input and flexible about many changes. I will have to come up with something to bring together all the characters from the book into something that can make a film.
The book is partly an autobiography, part travelogue , and part socio-political analysis of the history and people of Mumbai. Boyle referred to the book as his “bible” on Slumdog, using it through filming of “inspiration, comprehension and balance.” The book has been widely acclaimed, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. The Economist named Maximum City one of its books of the year for 2004.
The book description follows:
“A native of Bombay, Suketu Mehta gives us an insider’s view of this stunning metropolis. He approaches the city from unexpected angles, taking us into the criminal underworld of rival Muslim and Hindu gangs; following the life of a bar dancer raised amid poverty and abuse; opening the door into the inner sanctums of Bollywood; and delving into the stories of the countless villagers who come in search of a better life and end up living on the sidewalks.
A brilliantly illuminating portrait of Bombay and its people – a book as vast, diverse, and rich in experience, incident, and sensation as the city itself – from an award-winning Indian-American fiction writer and journalist. A native of Bombay, Suketu Mehta gives us a true insider’s view of this stunning city, bringing to his account a rare level of insight, detail, and intimacy. He approaches the city from unexpected angles – taking us into the criminal underworld of rival Muslim and Hindu gangs who wrest control of the city’s byzantine political and commercial systems . . . following the life of a bar dancer who chose the only life available to her after a childhood of poverty and abuse . . . opening the doors onto the fantastic, hierarchical inner sanctums of Bollywood . . . delving into the stories of the countless people who come from the villages in search of a better life and end up living on the sidewalks – the essential saga of a great city endlessly played out.
Through it all – as each individual story unfolds – we hear Mehta’s own story: of the mixture of love, frustration, fascination, and intense identification he feels for and with Bombay, as he tries to find home again after twenty-one years abroad. And he makes clear that Bombay – the world’s largest city – is a harbinger of the vast megalopolises that will redefine the very idea of “the city” in the near future.”
The book is available on Amazon for around $11. Thanks to /Film reader Jay from London for the tip.