November 5, 2021 – Los Angeles/Toronto – Ben Silverman’s Propagate Content has acquired audiovisual rights for the internationally acclaimed debut novel, Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi. The film will be produced by Propagate.
The Academy Award nominated Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta is attached as writer/director for the feature film adaptation of the novel. Mehta’s feature film directing credits include Fire, Water, Midnight’s Children and the award winners Sam & Me and Funny Boy. For TV, she directed the pilot for acclaimed Apple series Little America and Showtime’s upcoming Yellowjackets.
“Depicting complicated human connections are what drive most of my projects and I look forward to delving into the complex, layered and at times surprisingly dark mother-daughter relationship that is so shockingly illustrated in this novel,” said Deepa Mehta. “Burnt Sugar is often sprinkled with razor sharp humour and it’s unexpected take on the old-as-time relationship left me gasping. It grabbed me from its first sentence and I couldn’t say yes fast enough when I was asked to bring the vision to the screen.”
The deal with Propagate was negotiated by Anna Soler-Pont at the Pontas Literary & Film Agency on behalf of Doshi.
Shortlisted for the prestigious 2020 Booker Prize, and Longlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize, the English-language version of Burnt Sugar has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Translation rights for the novel have been sold into 26 languages, including German, French, Spanish, Korean, Russian and Arabic. The Lot Productions have licensed theatre rights with an aim to develop a play to premiere in London during their 2023 season. The novel will be adapted by Carmen Nasr with cast and creative team to be announced.
A sly and searing debut from an unmissable new voice in literary fiction, Burnt Sugar opens with an unforgettable sentence, “I would be lying if I said my mother’s misery has never given me pleasure.”
Set in the Indian city of Pune, it tells the story of Tara, who in her youth was wild. She abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram, endured a brief stint as a beggar (mostly to spite her affluent parents), and spent years chasing after a dishevelled, homeless ‘artist,’ all with her young child in tow. Now she is forgetting things, mixing up her maid’s wages and leaving the gas on all night, and her grown-up daughter is faced with the task of caring for a woman who never cared for her. This is a love story, a tale of obsession and betrayal. But not between lovers – between mother and daughter. Sharp as a blade and laced with caustic wit, Burnt Sugar unpicks the slippery, choking cord of memory and myth that binds two women together, making and unmaking them endlessly.
The New York Times raved, “Avni Doshi isn’t just a talented writer, she is an artist. She knows the difference between a line and shade — both start the same way, but intention and style inform their difference. Doshi’s sentences are sharply drawn and devastatingly precise. There is never a wasted word, no debris, no flourish to hide behind. A voice this unadorned, and blunt, is so hauntingly stubborn and original, you want to hear from it again and again.”
Founded in 2015 by Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens, who pioneered the global format business in the late 1990s, Propagate has offices in Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Its recent credits “Rebelde Way” for Netflix, “UNTOLD” for Netflix, the FOX drama “Our Kind of People,” starring Yaya DaCosta and Morris Chestnut, “Animals on the Loose: A You vs. the Wild Interactive Movie,” starring Bear Grylls for Netflix, “Escape the Undertaker,” an interactive movie starring WWE superstars for Netflix, “Notre Dame: Our Lady of Paris” for ABC and “Go-Big Show” on TBS, and the upcoming American adaptation of The Eurovision Song Contest, as well as the unscripted “November 13: Attack on Paris” “Haunted” and “Prank Encounters” for Netflix, and “In Search Of” and “Kings of Pain” for the History Channel. In scripted, “Blood and Treasure” and “Broke” for CBS, “Charmed” for The CW, the recently aired election-themed puppet special on Fox, “Let’s Be Real” and the upcoming “Zorro” television series for NBC. Propagate also created and produced the podcast, “An Oral History of The Office” for Spotify. Propagate’s expanding portfolio of companies includes Electus (“You vs. Wild”, “Running Wild With Bear Grylls,” “Jane the Virgin,” “Fashion Star”), Big Breakfast (“Adam Ruins Everything”, “Hot Date”), Notional (“Chopped” franchise), and talent management firms Artists First, Authentic Talent & Literary Management and Select Management.
Deepa Mehta photo credit: Janick Laurent | Avni Doshi photo credit: Sharon Haridas