Scriptwriting: Beyond punching the keys

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Check out this figure by clicking here. It’s about the elements that should be part of a scriptwriter’s life.
My weak area would be the socialising part. That is the third blue circle. It doesn’t mean that I am perfect in the other two circles. But I see more problems in the third circle. And it is more difficult to correct for me. Reason is my work. And also because I write in the meagre spare time. So where is the time to socialise? And that too one has to interact in an entirely different sphere of life.

But things are improving. After starting this blog I have got 3 requests to read my script and lots of contacts. It may not amount to much when it boils down to the real thing. But something is better than nothing. And also I am accomplishing this by just sitting in front of the laptop.

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One day of a scriptwriter’s life

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8.00 am: I realise that today is holiday. Ahem..means there is no excuse not to write. But still I have to have breakfast na?
8.30 am: I decided to read the newspaper first. Isn’t news the food of a writer?
9.30 am: Still haven’t finished reading the damn paper. Going through obituaries. No stone unturned. Don’t know why today news paper feels engaging like a Higgins novel.
10.10 am: Finally finished reading newspapers. O boy, is the world expanding? Now the question is whether to write a little bit or bath first.
Put on the music. Helps to get a perspective on such philosophical questions.
10.30 am: Finally managed to switch on the lap top. Continue reading

On bumpy roads

Seminar schedule has been posted. And 1st one is mine. I am getting paranoid ideas. Usually it takes one month for preparation. And I have only 10 days…
Writing will have to be cut to 45 minutes no doubt. But the question is whether I would be able to hold on to that also, when the panic sets in. And again 10 days- and a seminar to prepare. I felt that I would lose 5 years of my lifespan if I put myself to that kind of stress. So I followed an easy way out.
I took 4 days leave. Other wise I wouldn’t have even got time to write this post.

Slumdog millionaire

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Danny Boyle is clever. Simon Beaufoy is cleverer.
The formula is simple. Put in the life. Put in the suffering. And then you add enough masala to dissolve the bitterness.
There is nothing in the story that you have not seen before. The street kids- Salaam Bombay. The good brother vs. grey brother- From Deewar to We own the night. The sweetheart guarded by a mean goon- Don’t even get me started.
But Simon Beaufoy juggles the different elements like in a circus. A colourful circus. Look at the opening of movie. In the first 10 minutes the protagonist is one step away from the final question of the game. Also brutally questioned by police due to suspicion of cheating in the contest. And chased by a police man through an air strip, but only around 10-15 yrs earlier. The viewer is engaged. And the story moves on from there like a juggernaut to reach the present.
Biggest lesson is that you can show the slums and the poverty and the suffering and still make a warm gripping drama that is commercially successful…Provided you know how to write a clever screenplay. How many of the released Hindi movies in the last one year were not about the filthy rich? Dance bars, Big bungalows, foreign locations, cruisers, race courses… The scenarios in our cinema have become ruthlessly bizarre. It doesn’t represent India.
It’s sad that we have to see a foreign film to get a taste of the wild and strangely beautiful India.

The closed door

The landlady is clearing off the empty liqour bottles. She is swearing. There are around 30 to 40 of them.
Still she should be happy. He had been real trouble for her in the last 1-2 years. This is the last trouble he would cause her. To have to clean up his room. For the new tenants.
I met him yesterday too. In the campus. He had come to get some papers. ‘Who are you? What are you doing here?’, I asked. He laughed. ‘Sale thera number bhi aayega.’ Yes, my turn will come.
But hasn’t it already?
Because when I walk past his room now, I feel like walking past a wasteland. A wasteland with a glorious tale to tell. Once ravished by a vivacious spring. Now left for dying.
And I am the oldman left behind, sanctifying it’s last words.

The role of restraint in a good screenplay

Originally published here in Passion for cinema.com.

Consider this situation in a movie. Two commandos are escorting terrorists in a bus to a point of transfer. Terrorists realise that one of the commandos is a Muslim after seeing a thaveez or something in his neck. Consider that you are writing this script. How will you write this scene? Are you sure an argument and a rhetoric about Indian Muslim didn’t come into your mind? Are you sure that your commando didn’t raise his voice about terrorists misinterpreting religion? Are you sure your scene didn’t end with the terrorist and commando clutching at each other’s throats?
Ok lets see how Neeraj Pandey does the scene in ‘A Wednesday.’ (I am writing this down after watching the movie. I have not seen the script)
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