We are at the beginning of, at least a solid decade ahead of us, where the focus will be on telling compelling Indian Stories. It’s going to be a golden decade for Indian Writers.

2019 is slated to be the year we see numerous book adaptations come to life on the small and big screens. To help writers sell their books to film makers, Sidharth Jain started “The Story Ink”, India’s First Story Company. Sidharth forecasts a bright future ahead for Indian Storytellers and thus he founded the company to act as a bridge between writers and producers, helping sell film or dramatisation rights to books written by Indian authors. Having worked in the film business in various roles at Hotstar, Adlabs Films, and Hyperion Studio USA, he has also founded the story to script development company iRock films. It is no wonder then, that in just over a year – The Story Ink has has closed 40+ book to screen adaption deals and is in the process of closing another 30-40 by March 2019. He talks to Bound about his role as Chief Storyteller at StoryInk, the relatively new business of book to film agenting, and the resurgence of using books as source material for films.

INSTINCT, INSTINCT, INSTINCT.

Do you think platforms like Netflix and Amazon are changing the way books are being written, especially in India? Are more and more writers writing with a view of making their books accessible across audiences through these multi-media platforms?

I don’t think platforms will influence how writers will write books in a very impactful way. I would like to believe that authors write stories that inspire them. Good and compelling stories will always work, in any medium. Thousands of books will be published in a year, but a fraction of those will make it to screen. But yes, I believe some writers will make a lot of money because of the emergence of new platforms. The key word is “some”.
In certain cases where we take-on development of the scripts for books to screen adaptation, we always stay focussed on what’s the best way for the audiences to enjoy the story – whether they have read the book or not. Organic & honest storytelling, keeping in mind the expectations from the format+medium will always work best.


What is the process of getting your book getting adapted for the screen? Do certain stories work better than others?
At The Story Ink, we have a recommendation driven approach to pitching. We study the content strategy of the platform, map access to talent & available resources of the producer – and then, recommend the right story to them for consideration. We don’t just pitch a book, we pitch project visions. Books don’t get funded, projects do! Of course, not every story works for screen in terms of story or audience strategy. We don’t send out lists or catalogues. Our approach is very boutique and curated. I treat stories like unique diamonds. 


How important is it to maintain the authenticity of the novel/story while adapting it? Is there a certain creative licence you are entitled to keeping in mind that the audiences who watch these shows might never even read the original books?
Things could change during Screen Adaptation. Things usually change during Screen Adaptation. At least, we expect that, so it’s not a surprise if they do. Screen narrative is very different from how we narrate stories in a book. In certain cases where we take-on development of the scripts for books to screen adaptation, we always stay focussed on what’s the best way for the audiences to enjoy the story – whether they have read the book or not. Organic & honest storytelling, keeping in mind the expectations from the format+medium will always work best.
Our approach is very boutique and curated. I treat stories like unique diamonds. 
What is a classic novel you would love to see adapted for the screen?
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.


How difficult/easy was it to go from working at huge production houses like Hotstar to running and managing your own agency?
I have always been an entrepreneur. Post my Masters Degree in Finance, I became an avid Equity Market Investor. Ran a dotcom company. Landed in Hollywood and worked as a producer for 5 years. Worked in Adlabs Films. In 2008, I started a Script Development Company called “iRock Films” and produced a film, before I joined Hotstar. I have done 2 jobs in my life. A job for me, is like detox, as compared to life as an entrepreneur. I thrive in uncertainty.


What’s your success approach? Do you think you have a natural knack or instinct when it comes to visualizing acertain story on screen?
INSTINCT, INSTINCT, INSTINCT.


What do you forecast in the future of book-to-screen adaptations?
The future is very bright. The focus on books as a source of stories has just started. We are at the beginning of, at least a solid decade ahead of us, where the focus will be on telling compelling Indian Stories. It’s going to be a golden decade for Indian Writers.