Bollywood has not been too hot on adapting books for the screen. There have been some exceptions of course, with varying levels of success. This film is based on the bestselling book The Zoya Factor written by Anuja Chauhan, and it’s a fair, often fun screen adaptation.
Sonam Kapoor seems to shine in the goofy girl parts (here she’s a copywriter who is down on luck both personally and professionally) and (Dulquer Salmaan) is superbly cast as Nikhil, captain of the national cricket team. Their unusual pairing and easy chemistry are easily one of the film’s highlights.
As in the book, the story revolves around Zoya who was born on the same day that India won the 1983 cricket World Cup and is considered to be a lucky charm when it comes to winning matches. Interestingly, she happens to meet the Indian cricket team, and the charm actually seems to work with the team winning matches effortlessly. She now has to manage fame, being offered to be the team’s mascot and a blossoming romance with Nikhil.
The film reminded this writer of Kismat Konnection — the 2008 movie starring Vidya Balan and Shahid Kapoor. In the film too, Shahid’s luck does a happy turnaround after he meets the feisty Vidya, and wonders if she is his lucky charm.
If we take a look at Hindi films adapted from books, the first name that comes to mind is Guide based on R.K. Narayan’s book The Guide. Devdas and Parineeta are based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s books.
Vishal Bhardwaj made the Shakespearean trilogy — Maqbool, Omkara, and Haider. Two of his other films — Saat Khoon Maaf and The Blue Umbrella — are also book to screen adaptation, both stories by Ruskin Bond.
Chetan Bhagat, has had several of his books adapted into Hindi movies — 3 Idiots was based on his book Five Point Someone, Kai Po Che! was based on Three Mistakes of My Life, 2 States and Half Girlfriend were books with the same names, and Hello was based on his book One Night at the Call Centre.
The Zoya Factor clearly signals Bollywood’s growing interest in adapting books onscreen. Zarreen Khan’s Koi Good News? will reportedly soon be seen as a big-ticket Bollywood film.
Among my favourite adaptations for the screen remains Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, made for the screen by Martin Scorsese, a film he called his most violent despite there being no raised voices and no physical aggression. The film swept away the common argument that the book is always better than the movie—in this case, both being equally wondrous.
Among great news in the world of book adaptations is Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger getting picked up for a Netflix original starring Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao. And then there’s the sublime news of Netflix acquiring rights to adapt Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude as a new series, the first screen adaptation of the classic.
So far, Hindi films are oscillating between known classics (Devdas, Shakespeare) and commercial fiction with great hook ideas. One wonders if we will ever see onscreen adaptations of great Indian literary fiction. Seeing much-loved books on screen is always a joy. How wonderful it would be if Bollywood dives deeper to also explore timeless Indian books across language with treasures of stories just waiting to be told.
Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra2