GHOST IN THE TAMARIND: What I Wrote for the “My Book, the Movie” blog

What would a movie of GHOST IN THE TAMARIND be like? Who would be in it? Who might direct it? I wrote something for the My Book, the Movie blog. Find it here!

4 replies on “GHOST IN THE TAMARIND: What I Wrote for the “My Book, the Movie” blog”

If you will permit me some levity, here is my thinking on a whitewashed Hollywood version of Ghost in the Tamarind. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that if Hollywood gets its hands on this novel, its plot will be “streamlined” along with its whitewashing. The body count will also need to be far, far higher. Current American blockbusters put a massacre or pitched battle scene where other genres have a song and dance.

First, the cast: adult Ramu and Ponni will be played by Ryan Reynolds and Jennifer Lawrence. They’re both wholesome looking, and audiences are used to rooting for them against the bad guys. I think Susan Sarandon is the obvious choice for Gomati. We need someone special for Chellappa; Matt Damon can pull off the somewhat intellectual, intense, long-held anger of Ponni’s uncle convincingly, but we may need the over-the-top rage of Nicolas Cage here. Especially in the battle scenes! Part of the “streamlining” may involve combining Siva and Reddian into one character, so the audience only needs to hate a single bad guy. The body-shaving scene on the verandah showed me the perfect actor for this role: Russel Crowe. Even if the two characters aren’t combined, Mr. Crowe should be cast in both roles, again, to make clear to the audience that Reddian, even when he’s seeming to help with the founding of the school, is just plain evil.

My favorite character, who needs a far bigger role in the film than he got in the novel, is Pichayya. In his expanded role, Pichayya will come to resemble the soulful, gentle, wise old black man we meet in so many movies. You know, the one who exists only to help our hero clarify his reasons for embarking on the quest, and get back in touch with his own mojo, in his darkest hour of doubt. And who better to play this role than Bagger Vance himself, Will Smith? (this casting choice also prevents us from being accused of whitewashing . . . )

The other aspect of the plot that Hollywood will “improve” is that the groups of like-minded people that Chellappa, Ponni, and Ramu find and cultivate in the novel will become a full-fledged, secretive, vast underground army. Star Wars has its Rebel Alliance, Blade Runner 2049 has its . . . whatever all those replicants call themselves, even Children of Men has its various underground armies. Ghost in the Tamarind needs this too . . . which gives me the chance for my greatest casting coup of all. The Rebel army needs a leader, and that is where Daniel Day Lewis comes in. In a largely self-written, improvised role combining the most histrionic aspects of Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz with the most clichéd features of the Che Guevara mythos, Daniel Day Lewis will walk away with the Oscar for best supporting actor – male. Don’t you hate it when the role that wins the Oscar didn’t exist in the original novel?

Bonus round: a rival casting scenario has emerged. The Weinstein Company, still needing to make movies with all that money it has, but unable to attract a single woman to a casting meeting, has announced it’s making a bold artistic statement by producing Ghost in the Tamarind with an all-male cast.


There’s so much more to say – – – Ryan Gosling as Selvam? (the carefully cultivated blank stare) . . . Ramu’s tin chest as the maguffin, Selvam finally unlocking all its mysteries after years of staring at photos . . . Daniel Day Lewis and his cigar . . . one sign of a piece of literature worth some study is that even a parodic re-imagining provokes worthwhile thoughts!

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