Statement on Basil


Radha Bharadwaj on Basil:

My screenplay for Basil is loosely based on Victorian mystery writer Wilkie Collins’s book, Basil.  I had first read the book when I was twelve years old in India.  Even then, its very modern emotions and bold structure struck me as refreshing and original.  Collins delves into the psyche of his doomed protagonist with an immediacy and intimacy that was rare in literature those days, and he freely explores the nature of Basil’s sensual/sexual obsession for the spoiled Margaret Sherwin.

Turning the very personal, almost stream-of-consciousness book into a screenplay took thought and effort.  I had to structure a plot that brought the key characters into the pivotal clash; I had to give the Mannion character a back-story and hence a motive for the war he waged against the aristocrat Basil’s family.  Basil’s family life had to be fleshed out—at times, even created from scratch.   I still believe that despite my inventions and innovations, the screenplay for Basil remains true to the spirit of the book that Wilkie Collins wrote.

Working with the talented cast was one of the highlights of this experience, and, indeed, of my life.  I learned an immense amount just watching the different acting styles: of veteran British thespian Sir Derek Jacobi and Americans Jared Leto (who went on to win an Oscar and Golden Globe for Dallas Buyers Club) and Christian Slater.

My huge gratitude to the Toronto International Film Festival, which selected the director’s cut of Basil to close their prestigious “Special Presentation” series.