By Sonya Rehman
Karachi, You’re Killing Me!, the debut novel penned by the Pakistani writer/journalist, Saba Imtiaz, last year, is soon to be adapted into a Bollywood production. The story revolves around a young protagonist, Ayesha Khan, who works as a reporter in the bustling city of Karachi. The book is a fun, racy read and has been likened to Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Masala! caught up with Saba this week for a quick interview about the her book’s Bollywood adaptation.
Your debut novel, Karachi, You’re Killing Me! is going to be made into a film; are you excited?
Excited is probably an understatement. I’d never written fiction before I wrote this novel, and so just the fact that I could write a book – and everything that’s come since, including the adaptation – has been great. It’s interesting to think of the book having a life beyond being a work of fiction.
What was your first reaction when the production house approached you about the film?
My publishers handled the dealings for the rights, and so when they told me that there was someone interested, I think I spent the first five minutes staring at my laptop and trying to formulate a coherent email. I think my response was largely comprised of exclamation marks.
Is it true that you’re currently penning the screenplay? If yes, is it a challenging process? Or is it proving to be easier as opposed to writing the book?
I’m going to be involved in some capacity but it’s still too early to say what that’ll be like and how extensive the process will be.
The movie has been tentatively titled, Delhi, You’re Killing Me! – don’t you think changing the novel’s setting from Karachi to Delhi will affect the essence of your book? Karachi and Delhi are poles apart, don’t you think?
It’s an adaptation, not a literal, word-for-word cinematic translation. After Karachi, You’re Killing Me! was published, I found it far more interesting to hear from and talk to people who’ve identified with the book even though they may not be journalists, or the same age bracket as the protagonist, or from Karachi. I think of the adaptation in the same way. It’s fantastic to think that there are elements of the book that can be adapted to a different setting, or that there are scenes that people can identify with and visualize elsewhere. The book is also about city life, so I’m quite excited to see how it is set in Delhi and what parts of the book do end up making their way into the script.
Apart from the screenplay, what else are you currently up to?
Reporting, procrastinating, and trying to survive the summer: all the things that Karachiites do, I suppose. In other news, I’m trying to finish a long-delayed non-fiction reporting project on Karachi.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors keen on writing/publishing their debut novels?
Reading is always a good start.