After a visit to Rana Dasgupta's interesting homepage, I was intrigued to discover he's signed off the filming rights for one of the stories in Tokyo Cancelled to a young Australian filmmaker named Robert Hutchinson. Hutchinson spent six weeks in India this past spring doing research on it for the screenplay he's writing, and kept an interesting blog about it here. Aside from the fact that he misspells "Hindutva" at one point, Hutchinson has some interesting observations to make, both on India and on the script in progress. Here is how Hutchinson summarizes the plot for the film version of "The Billionaire's Sleep," which follows Dasgupta's story quite closely:
Rajiv Malhotra is a billionaire who inherited an Indian steel empire and turned it into a trans-national concern with a focus on India’s ability to provide outsourcing services to the rest of the world. For him every moment of every day in every timezone is an opportunity to provide efficient services. His obsession with utilising every second of the day means he has never been able to sleep. This inability to sleep has also meant he is infertile and has not been able to produce an heir to his empire. His decision to have a ‘perfect son’ made for him through the use of genetic technologies is the inciting moment of the story. From that moment powers beyond his control come into play. (link)
That's just part one. Note that it's Dasgupta who uses the name "Rajiv Malhotra" (there is also a real person by that name, you may have heard of him; hard to know if any connection is intended).
Part two is where it really starts to get interesting:
Sapna is his unexpected daughter, when his wife gives birth to twins, a girl and a boy, Rajiv finds he has a daughter who sleeps beautifully. That sleep is so powerful that as she approaches puberty Sapna’s fertility when she dreams brings organic objects back to life. Her bedhead grows branches and a perfect white flower. The spores in the carpet burst into life over night filling the air with floating tendrils, her clothes basket grows into a thicket of bamboo. This exhuberant fertility frightens Rajiv and he does everything within his power to have this excess of organic material removed from his sight. (link)
There's a little more at Robert Hutchinson's blog, but if you really want to find out what happens in "The Billionaire's Sleep," you'll have to go to Barnes & Noble or whatnot and pick up Tokyo Cancelled (it should be there). I'm pretty envious at this point, because "The Billionaire's Sleep" could make a really great film if done right. (We're overdue for a good outsourcing-themed film, I think.)
A side note: at one point, Hutchinson makes an offering at a temple in Maharashtra with the wish that Amitabh Bachchan signs on to play a part in the film -- presumably Rajiv Malhotra. Good luck with it, Mr. Hutchinson! (Though I should mention that I think Om Puri would also excel at this kind of role.)
Before getting back to diaper-changing and burping, I do have one quibble with the Vij I wanted to register:
Another annoyance in these tales is that they feel derivative, more remixes than totally novel plot points. Much of Dasgupta’s surrealism has been done before by authors working both in magical realism and sci-fi (link)
I actually liked the cross between the fairy tale plot structures with the contemporary speculative fiction themes. And yes, the idea of a misshapen lost twin or offspring has been done by Rushdie several times (not to mention innumerable 70s/80s Bollywood films), but it's also just a plain-and-simple fairy tale conceit going back to the Brothers Grimm: the demon who comes back to haunt you, who demands the secret be unveiled, and the payment due.
p.s. Which desi actress should play the part of Sapna?