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Besides Murder on the Orient Express, five other must-watch Agatha Christie adaptations

There are certain combinations that never go wrong — peanut butter and Nutella, blue jeans and a white shirt, a F.R.I.E.N.D.S marathon with your best friend. For me growing up, it was summer vacation and heaps of Agatha Christie novels to read — one of my favourite things to do as a child. In my teens, I was so obsessed with Christie’s no-nonsense and utterly charming style of crime/mystery writing, that I read every book she ever wrote — all her Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple mysteries (obviously!), her Tommy and Tuppence Beresford novels, those with detectives Harley Quin and Parker Pyne among others, as well as the ridiculously beautiful and melancholic romance novels she wrote under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. When I was in the UK studying for my Masters, watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot on ITV became a ritual during study breaks. David Suchet’s iconic portrayal of the famously egotistic egg-shaped Belgian detective in this long-running series (it aired for 25 years) has become so popular and recognisable over time, that most fans consider this series to be the quintessential adaptation of Christie’s work.

But it isn’t, not necessarily. When you’re the world’s biggest selling crime writer (overall, Christie’s works have sold two billion copies — only surpassed by the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare!), it’s only natural that most of your novels and short stories will be adapted for film or TV. With Kenneth Branagh’s version of Murder on the Orient Express set to hit theaters, let’s have a look at some of the best movie adaptations of Agatha Christie’s novels.

Promotional still for Murder On The Orient Express (2017)

Promotional still for Murder On The Orient Express (2017)

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

Like the new version, this 1974 adaptation was also equally star-studded. Instead of Michelle Pfeiffer, Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, think yesteryear superstars like Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, and Lauren Bacall. Albert Finney played Hercule Poirot, and the movie was directed by the legendary Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon). Not only was Lumet’s adaptation rich and faithful to the source work, but the movie was also a commercial success and very critically acclaimed (apparently, it was also one of the few adaptations of her work that Christie herself was very happy with).

It went on to receive six Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor (Finney), Best Supporting Actress (Bergman), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The luminous Ingrid Bergman won her third Oscar for her role of the Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson.

Death on the Nile (1978)

This one often follows Orient Express, as proven by the recent news that Kenneth Branagh will reprise his role of Poirot in the upcoming remake of Death on the Nile, which will act as a “sequel” to this year’s Orient Express. For the 1978 movie, Albert Finney declined a repeat of his portrayal of Hercule Poirot; he was replaced by the (late) great Peter Ustinov, in the first of six films in which Ustinov played the Belgian grey-cells user. As if having a Russian aristocrat in the lead role wasn’t enough, this John Guillermin-directed movie’s cast also includes Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Maggie Smith, and David Niven!

Its lush and exotic Egyptian setting, a warmer and decidedly friendlier portrayal of the usually quite-snobbish Poirot, and decadent costume design (for which designer Anthony Powell won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design) meant that, while Death on the Nile wasn’t as critically or commercially successful as Murder on the Orient Express four years before, it is a visual and narrative treat, and still ranks as one of the best adaptations of Christie’s works.

Evil Under the Sun (1982)

Christie’s 1941 novel of the same name, on which this movie is based, had received more-than-widespread praise from critics when it first released — Maurice Richardson’s review in The Observer, in 1941, said that it was the “best Agatha Christie since Ten Little Indians – and one can’t say much more than that – Evil Under the Sun has luxury summer hotel, closed-circle setting, Poirot in white trousers. Victim: redhead actress man-mad. Smashing solution, after clouds of dust thrown in your eyes, ought to catch you right out. Light as a soufflé.”

Keeping the tone, look, and feel of the movie as light as the book, while still maintaining the profound meaning of the title (it refers to Ecclesiastes 6:1, which reads, “There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon humankind.”) would have been a tough ask for most, but director Guy Hamilton ensured that Peter Ustinov’s second time as Hercule Poirot was as splendid and enjoyable as his first. Maggie Smith is deliciously wicked as always, and Diana Rigg was perfectly cast as the glamourous victim. While this movie didn’t win any Academy Awards, Cole Porter’s thoroughly unsettling background score is worthy of mention.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

This movie, based on Christie’s play of the same name (which, in turn, was adapted from her short story) has a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m not saying that’s reason enough to watch it, but if you’re the kind of person who doubts crowdsourced reviews, then get this – the great Billy Wilder (The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch) directed this thrilling noir-esque courtroom drama about a barrister (the brilliant Charles Laughton) who takes on a murder case to defend an American war veteran (Tyrone Power) who’s been accused of murdering an old, wealthy female acquaintance who’d become enamoured by him and had made him the main beneficiary of her will. All of this, despite the objections of his nurse (played by Elsa Lanchester), who agrees with his doctor that the barrister shouldn’t take on any criminal cases, for the good of his own health. The inimitable Marlene Dietrich is the titular “witness for the prosecution” and the movie boasts one of the best plot twists in cinematic history, like, ever!

Unsurprisingly, Witness for the Prosecution received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actress. That 100 percent rating is really justified!

And Then There Were None (1945)

Possibly the most famous of Agatha Christie’s novels, And Then There Were None (originally appallingly titled – cue wince – Ten Little Niggers) has been adapted a number of times, with slight variations to its characters and the setting/location, including a Hindi movie adaptation (1965’s Gumnaam) and the most recent one (2015’s TV movie of the same name, starring Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance). But none of the movie or television versions do this brilliant novel as much justice as the 1945 movie of the same name, directed by René Clair and starring Barry Fitzgerald.

This one is classic Christie — a chilling tale of ten strangers invited to a remote and isolated island by a somewhat-mysterious host, and one by one they all start vanishing dying. Dun dun dun! Black and white movies add a tinge of atmospheric tension and romance to most movies, and even though director Clair adds a touch of humour and absurdity to the almost-unbelievable events that transpire, there’s still a level of suspense to this one that makes it a true delight for Christie fans and a must-watch for film lovers. The tension is real, the paranoia hyper-real, and the thrill of watching And Then There Were None is incomparable. Even when you know who the killer is!


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Priya Prakash Varrier’s viral video allegedly plagiarised from Malayalam film Kidu, claims director Majeed Abu

With enormous fame came its perils. Priya Prakash Varrier, who became the internet sensation after her wink video went viral, laded in multiple controversies. It is now being claimed that the video of ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ from her upcoming release Oru Adaar Love, featuring Roshan Abdul Rahoof opposite Priya, has been copied from a Malayalam film titled Kidu.

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

India TV reports that the director of Kidu, Majeed Abu, has a similar scene in his film featuring a class room love story. He recently left a video message where he said the sequence was lifted from his movie.

Sabu posted a video message on Facebook where he explained his version.

While the Kidu maker put forth his claims, there were a few who claimed Kidu copied it from Oru Adaar Love. However, the director in reply stated, “After watching the song from my film Kidu, many have been saying that it has been copied from Oru Adaar Love. It’s not right. Achu Vijayan is the editor of Kidu and Oru Adaar Love. My film’s shooting was completed on November 25 (2017) and in January first week, the editing was done.”

“It is only after finishing our film, Achu Vijayan started to work on Oru Adaar Love. That song was also shot after this. So, we are the ones who should accuse them (Oru Adaar Love makers) of copying it from us. We don’t have any intentions of copying from others,” he said.

“Many asked me why I didn’t take action? I don’t want that. We don’t want to make a big issue because out of this. There could be some similarities between the two films. Even our life is like that we have so many similarities with others,” Sabu further added.

Published Date: Feb 21, 2018 11:44 AM | Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 11:44 AM

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SC quashes FIR against Priya Prakash Varrier; asks Telangana govt to not entertain complaints about song

The Supreme Court today, ie 21 February, heard a plea filed by Malayalam actress Priya Prakash Varrier and issued a stay on the complaint filed against her and the makers of Oru Adaar Love. According to a tweet by Times Now, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud sent out a message to the fringe groups demanding a ban on the song ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi‘ from the film.

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

Priya Prakash Varrier in a still from Oru Adaar Love. YouTube

The film had landed into troubled waters after a spate of complaints and FIRs were filed against the makers and the actress for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community. The apex court also asked the state governments of Maharashtra and Telangana to not entertain any complaints against the makers regarding the contents of the song. Varrier had then sought the apex court’s intervention, stating that the complaints are an attack on Freedom of Expression and Speech.

The first complaint was filed by Muqeeth Khan and alleged that the lyrics of the song insult Prophet Muhammad when translated to English. This was followed with a letter written by the controversial fringe group Raza Academy in Mumbai. The letter, written to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), demanded the imposition of a ban on the song.

Several reports also suggested that the premier organisation for Islamic laws, Darul Ifta Jamia Nizamia, issued a fatwa against the song and its lyrics.

Published Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:07 PM | Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:07 PM

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Black Panther: Move over Iron Man, Bruce Banner; fans demand spin-off on gizmo genius Shuri’s character

Marvel’s latest Black Panther has been garnering praise all over, with even Michelle Obama and Serena Williams declaring their love for the first black superhero-led franchise in the MCU. But the internet has taken to showering extraordinary love to a female character from the blockbuster the young 16-year-old princess of Wakanda, Shuri, played by Letitia Wright.

in a still from Black Panther. YouTube

Letitia Wright in a still from Black Panther. YouTube

Shuri is the tech genius behind her elder brother T’Challa and his Black Panther wizardry, through her innovative use of Vibranium to build a technologically advanced Wakanda. The character is receiving widespread praise for her intelligent and mince-no-words attitude, as the gadget genius everyone has been waiting for, or proclaiming her as Marvel’s most promising character in ages.

Her superiority to the other two tech geniuses in the marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark aka Iron Man and Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, has got audiences and reviewers excited, as a much needed addition to the Avengers when they take on super villain Thanos in the upcoming Infinity War.

Fans have stormed twitter with outright show of affection for the character.

A fan-made movie poster with Shuri as the Black Panther was also circulated with accompanying tweets.

I grew up seeing so many stereotypes on TV and I didn’t want to play that as well. This moment right now is years of prayer that’s coming together to play such a character that … hopefully a lot of people can be inspired by. So for me it’s a dream come true really. It’s something positive in the world, and that’s the type of person I am. It doesn’t necessarily mean that that character is not flawed, But with this film, it can spark the brain of another kid that loves technology and loves science and lets them see that that’s really cool and encourage them to create the next gadget that’s going to help cure a disease or something. I’m proud to be a young black girl doing this, but also as much as this is for young black women to be inspired, (it’s for) all women of all ethnicities, of all races to be inspired. And young boys too, young men too from all walks of life to be inspired by this film,said Wright, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Published Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:08 PM | Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 12:08 PM


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