Film on Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies to Use Bhojpuri

Film on Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies to Use Bhojpuri
The magic of Booker Prize shortlisted Amitav Ghosh's novel, The Sea of Poppies, a gripping tale of the sea journey of indentured labourers during the 1830s, just before the Opium War, is set to be translated on celluloid.

Tentatively titled Afeem Ka Sagar, some of the most compelling parts of the film have been planned to be shot in Bhojpuri, a dialect spoken in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, according Anusha Rizvi who has teamed up with husband Mahmood Farooqui to direct the film.

The same husband-wife duo had directed the critical and commercially acclaimed film Peepli Live in 2010.

"Most of the drama happens on the high seas, so we need a very controlled environment for shooting. It'll need lots of work to recreate the era and a lot of 'modern interferences' such as electric poles on streets and telephone lines would have to be edited out of the scenes," Anusha told PTI.

Amitav Ghosh, who was shortlisted for the 2008 Booker for the book, the first of his Ibis trilogy, endorses the couple's decision to use Bhojpuri instead of Hindi in the film to retain the historicity and the period of the story.

"Bhojpuri is a beautiful language and I think there should be a lot of Bhojpuri in the film. Historically, too, that was the language spoken by characters in that period," Ghosh told PTI over email. "In fact, one thing that impressed me very much about Mahmood was that he speaks fluent Bhojpuri.

He (Mahmood) grew up in Bhojpuri-speaking Gorakhpur and has a visceral connect with the book's themes and characters," adds the author who chose Anusha and Mahmood over others filmmakers, including some from Hollywood who had approached him for rights to his book. Ghosh too has a personal connect with the language. "My family is originally from East Bengal, but settled in Chhapra district in north Bihar in 1856.

My aunts and uncles spoke Bhojpuri amongst themselves and my father studied in Patna University. However, now the family is dispersed and our house in Chhapra has been sold," says the author. "Bojpuri today is not just an Indian language. It is spoken in many countries like Mauritius and Fiji. And, I very much hope that this is reflected in the film," he adds. The author hopes the film can retain the period element of his fiction.
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