Yesterday, Britain celebrated its most celebrated authoress – Jane Austen. On her 200th death anniversary, the British Govt released £10 note and in many ways immortalized her, even 200 years later.
Just as J K Rowling became an overnight sensation and not to mention, a multi-millionaire, Jane Austen too never knew her work would become legendary. Obviously, her most famous work is ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ and ‘Emma’ and it is interesting to note that Mary Shelly, well know publisher then, chose Emma but rejected Frankenstein, which too went on to become a cult. Her books were always a rage but it really took off or became the kind of sensation it is now in 1990s when almost all her books were made into TV series and movies. And did you know that there is a ‘Jane Austen Society’ all cross the world?
We in India too have a Jane Austen Society and we most definitely have adapted many of her books - “Bride and Prejudice” (2004), set in Amritsar, substituted Lalita Bakshi for Elizabeth Bennet and Indian weddings for country dances. “Kandukondain Kandukondain” (2000), a Tamil romance film, and “Kumkum Bhagya” (2014), an Indian soap opera, are both based on “Sense and Sensibility”; “Aisha” (2010) is an adaptation of “Emma” set amid Delhi’s upper class.
In India, the only such literary ‘celebrity’ who comes to mind is Rabindranath Tagore and Munshi Premchand and we do have Tagore on notes. But more needs to be done to keep these legendary authors alive – their books depict an era which is gone by and might later be the only account which gives us a peek into the India of yesteryears.