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During lockdown, would rather read a book or watch something on a screen?

It is the age-old question that makes a bibliophile rise up in arms against the cinephile. Are books better than their movie adaptations?

Bibliophiles unite

Unpopular opinions: The Wall that they showed in Game of Thrones was not impressive enough. Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films was not awe-inspiring. Sauron in The Lord of the Rings could have been more sinister.

Don’t get me wrong. In terms of cinematography, these films were excellent. But they are nothing compared to what I had visualised when I first read the books. The Wall, in George RR Martin’s words, wasn’t just huge, it took up the entire sky and beyond. Hogwarts’ Great Hall was the twinkling, candlelit version of a warm sweet hug, and Sauron was an all-powerful terror who was on every page, behind every thought, word and sunlit moment like a prickle on your neck that doesn’t go away.

A child’s imagination is limitless. It leaps towards superlatives that cannot possibly be contained inside a screen. When I want to escape into a story, I want to run and dive deep… so I go for a book. If you think this is a glorified version of “the book was better”, you are right. Some of the best, most engaging films and TV shows any of us have enjoyed were based on books.

It means they are essentially licensed copies of the real idea. Go binge, if you want to, but know that somewhere out there is an original version of the recreation.

Meghna Majumdar’s dream home has three libraries, 15 secret passageways and no home theatre.

Magic of the screen

If I read one more explanation of why “books are better than the movies”, I will scream louder than Dumbledore did when he discovered Harry put his name in the Goblet of Fire. (Yeah! I went there.)

I understand why people get attached to books. It is a personal journey where you develop characters and even worlds inside your head. But movies take that world outside your head and bring it alive on the big screen for everyone to enjoy. Until HBO made Game of Thrones a worldwide phenomenon, they were bulky, never-ending books with a niche fan following. And until Season 8 broke our collective hearts, we lapped the series up one titillating episode after another.

Why should only those who have the patience to read and enjoy magical worlds have all the fun? Why not let everyone in on it? If not for movie adaptations, we would not have the image of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption standing in the rain — his arms spread out, grateful for a new life — etched in our brains. A person drinking milk would not have been so scary had it not been for Stanley Kubrick’s version of A Clockwork Orange, nor would we be crying, thinking of Irrfan Khan talking about life and death in Life of Pi.

However Goblet of Fire may have turned out, all I remember is holding hands in the dark with my best friend waiting for the movie to begin.

— Sweta Akundi definitely watches The Godfather for Mario Puzo’s brilliant plot, and not Al Pacino’s lips.

(In this column, we pit two icons against each other.)

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