From ‘Maharaja in Denims’ novel to silver screen

The producer of the “Gangs Of Wasseypur” and “The Lunchbox” has optioned bestselling novel ‘Maharaja in Denims’ written by Chandigarh-based author Khushwant Singh.

Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment and Amaryllis — an imprint of Manjul Publishing House — on Wednesday announced acquiring the film rights of the historical fiction.

The story is an intriguing narrative of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, seen through the eyes of a teenager named Hari, who believes he is a reincarnation of the Maharaja.

The story juxtaposes between two eras — the glorious rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and contemporary India.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh is popularly known as ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ or the ‘Lion of Punjab’.

Hari becomes a bridge between the historical, spiritual and political history of the past and present day Punjab.

Talking about this acquisition, acclaimed producer of award-winning films, Guneet Monga, founder of Sikhya Entertainment, said, “This is a story which shows Punjab from a fresh lens.

“The landscape is so rich in history, much more than just the Partition stories that we have seen in the mainstream cinema so far. It would be exciting to see the celebrated Maharaja Ranjit Singh through a millennial’s lens.

“The story has potential to make a captivating experience with its compelling narrative and portrayal of the richness of the era.”

Known in the industry for producing acclaimed films like the “Gangs of Wasseypur”, “The Lunchbox” and “Masaan”, Guneet said Khushwant’s novel transgresses multiple eras and very poignantly and boldly describes the tale of the then and now.

Rashmi Menon, Managing Editor at Amaryllis, said Maharaja in Denims is like a Kohinoor in the list of books that Amaryllis has published.

“We knew that this book is a classic in its own way and that it was destined to travel beyond bookshelves. A brilliantly constructed plot, a layered narrative, and characters and situations that will keep you wanting to know more, this book is a page-turner.

“But what distinguishes it is the way it packs in significant parts of Punjab’s history into a story that can be enjoyed by a large audience. With Guneet Monga’s artistic expertise, this book is sure to become a perfect cinematic experience for an intelligent, fun-loving audience.”

Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab, had released the book in 2014 in Chandigarh and had termed it as an exceptional attempt at narrating history through fiction.

Author Khushwant Singh, who also wrote the much-acclaimed biography of Amarinder Singh, ‘The People’s Maharaja’, and is currently the state Information Commissioner, Punjab, told IANS that he was honoured and thrilled with this development.

He shared that Bollywood had always shown keen interest in adapting ‘Maharaja in Denims’ as a film, but Guneet Monga buying the optioning rights is a huge fillip in the journey of the book.

“She is a very dynamic producer with the right sensibilities to handle such a book. The movie, as and when it is released, will help people understand the experiences that Punjab went through, as well as help them understand the region and its community in proper perspective,” added the author.