• Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Photo credit: Arif Mahmood)
  • Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Photo credit: Arif Mahmood)
Eye of the beholder

Translator and novelist Musharraf Ali Farooqi talks movies.


The first film you remember watching.

The Monkey’s Uncle.


One thing you miss about the way in which you saw movies as a child.

Drinking Fanta during the intermission.


The worst book to film adaptation.

I maintain that if a book is trash but the movie is good, the director has been unfaithful to the book.


If you were to adapt a film to a book, it would be… 

 Kaagaz Ke Phool directed by Guru Dutt.


A sequence/ character/ plot in either of your books that might be
inspired by cinema (by the medium itself or a particular film).

Not directly, but to understand the character of Gohar Jan (in Between Clay and Dust) I have very closely watched Maria Callas’ performance videos to learn how a very proud and accomplished artiste comports herself.


Do you read film reviews? What good are they? 

I do not remember having ever read a film review.


In a movie version of your life who would play you? Who would you have liked to play you? 

I think I will have to step in. No actor can quite connect with my perfidiously villainous nature.


What book of yours could be made into a film? 

All of them (Please! Now!).

Who would you like it to be directed by?

Some famous zombie.


Who would you cast as who (you could name any or all characters)?

I think Deepti Naval will look good in the role of Mona Ahmad the protagonist of The Story of a Widow. I haven’t really thought about others.


One male actor you’ve idolized. 

Peter Falk of Columbo.


One actress you absolutely adore.

Meryl Streep.

What fictional characters would you like to see both of the above play?

Popeye and Olive Oyl.

One writer whose biopic would definitely be A-Rated.

Charles Dickens.


A writer whose biopic you want to see. 

Charles Dickens.


One non-fiction title that could make for a good film. 

Basic Electrical Engineering.


One thing that the novel can do which a film can’t. 

Introduce you to the taste of obsessive passions.

One thing the film can do that a novel can’t.

Show sex scenes more plausibly.

A film that made you very happy.



A film that made you cry. 

Every second film makes me cry.


A film every writer must see.

Character, Babette’s Feast, The Story of the Weeping Camel.


Your favourite film on writing/a writer.

 Henry & June.


If you ever made a film…

 It would be a slapstick comedy, a genre I love.

A film script you would like to read.

The Little Prince.


A film you wish you had written.

In the Mood for Love.


One underrated film.

The Story of the Weeping Camel.

One highly rated film that did not work for you.

All of them worked for me, I think, because if they were boring I just got up and left.


Musharraf Ali Farooqi is an author, novelist and translator. His latest novel, Between Clay and Dust, was shortlisted for The Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and longlisted for the 2013 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Farooqi’s first novel The Story of a Widow was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He has also written an illustrated novel, Rabbit Rap (with art by his wife, Michelle Farooqi), and Tik-Tik, The Master of Time for children and translated The Adventures of Amir Hamza and the first book of a projected 24-volume magical fantasy epic, Hoshruba. 


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Eye of the Beholder: Musharraf Ali Farooqi

March 2013