Neil Gaiman’s bestselling graphic novel “The Sandman: Act I” has been adapted as a Hindi-language audio adaptation by Amazon’s Audible and DC, with a voice cast of acclaimed Bollywood actors.
The books are also adapted as an ongoing English-language audio presentation by Gaiman and audiobook and audio movie pioneer Dirk Maggs, .
Maggs previously had a distinguished career as a producer with BBC Radio where he elevated radio drama to the realm of what he describes as “a film in your ears.” One of his innovations was to introduce Dolby Surround sound into BBC Radio. He has adapted several superhero characters for the radio including Superman, Batman and Judge Dredd and his work also includes a seminal radio adaptation of Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
The Hindi version features Tabu (“Andhadhun”) as the narrator, Vijay Varma (“A Suitable Boy”) in the lead role of Morpheus/Dream, Manoj Bajpayee (“The Family Man”) as Doctor Dee, Sushant Divgikar (“Evening Shadows”) as Desire, Adarsh Gaurav (“The White Tiger”) as Constantine, Neeraj Kabi (“Paatal Lok”) as Lucifer, Kubbra Sait (“Foundation”) as Death and Tillotama Shome (“Sir”) as Calliope.
In the audio adaptation, The Sandman, also known as Lord Morpheus, the immortal king of dreams, stories and the imagination, is pulled from his realm and imprisoned on Earth by a nefarious cult and languishes for decades before finally escaping. Once free, he must retrieve the three tools that will restore his power and help him to rebuild his dominion.
“I was absolutely, if you pardon the expression, gobsmacked when I saw who is going to be performing, because this is a cast of A-listers. This is exactly how we’ve tried to cast it for the English-language version, which is to get the very best cast we can,” Maggs told Variety. “And it’s not because it’s a gimmick to get A-list actors to perform this stuff. Its by Neil Gaiman and it needs people of this caliber to make it work. And when you get a cast this good there is no better performance available in those roles.”
“I’ve got to say, I just love Tabu as the narrator – it’s wonderful to have a female voice performing what is Neil’s part in our English-language version,” said Maggs. “Then you’ve got Manoj who’s just amazing as Doctor Dee – it’s exactly what it needs to be which is a scenery chewing performance, but still absolutely classy. In Vijay, who’s the young and upcoming talent who’s playing Morpheus — very much like James McAvoy who plays Morpheus in the English-language version — you’ve got someone who’s got real energy and vitality in the part. The whole cast is just to die for really, or to dream about.”
Other cast in the English version include: featured a galaxy of stars including Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Neil Gaiman, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis and Michael Sheen.
The Hindi-language adaptation will open up “The Sandman” world beyond India’s English-language market. It is also a territory that is steeped in its own mythology, including the epics “The Ramayana” and “The Mahabharata.”
Maggs says that Gaiman is well aware of India’s rich culture of storytelling and myth and legend. “What’s interesting about ‘The Sandman’ is, it’s drawing on all sorts of mythologies, and it does touch on South Asia and North Asia, and it also goes into Greek mythology and Norse mythology,” said Maggs. “And Neil is a kind of magpie who steals the shiniest objects from various mythologies and blends them together, forges them into something entirely new.”
The English-language versions of Audible’s “The Sandman” acts one and two are amongst the service’s biggest hits and the third act is keenly anticipated. Maggs is not at liberty to reveal the launch date, beyond the nugget that it is going to be “well inside the environs of this year” and “we’re mixing it in a very specific and sexy way.” Up next for Maggs is a long-gestating sci-fi project with Gaiman, also for Audible.