Revenge is a poisonous plant that grows in the dark island of narcissism. There is a certain lack of abstraction when you go after someone for revenge. If someone pulls the trigger on your dear ones, you attribute all the causation into the brain of this ‘other man.’ But life is complex. Events are complex. When you are ready to face the complexity of the world, it becomes difficult to reduce all your griefs as ’caused’ by a person. Because then you start to see his motivations, insecurities, spur of the moment stupidities, naivety, chain of events, bad luck, and a hundred people in the world without whom this would never have happened- it becomes difficult to hate him any more. But if you are not willing to do that, and you want simple answers- where all your problems are personified in a human being-  you get the hero of Badlapur.

But he is not only the hero of Badlapur. He is there in each of us. He is there in HATE. Hate against men, groups, religions, communities, countries… But before one’s hate can destroy his opponent, it will destroy his own soul.


An accidental reunion


When I think about it, I would have been more happy if they didn’t see me while I was passing by. Then I could have wallowed in self pity after he had gone back to Japan that he didn’t meet me.

He had dyed his hair. I made fun of my own graying hair. ‘I have painted it white.’ Everyone laughed. It amused me that he didn’t say anything. I knew he had turned all gray. But he didn’t know I knew. Another friend in Japan had told me.

He tried to introduce his fiance. ‘Probably you two would have met each other.’ Yeah. We would have. If you didn’t fail to mention about her for 2 years while you and me were literally living in the same room.

We talked about work. I asked about his office like an interviewer asking about work experience. Staff? Problems? Work hours? Job satisfaction? Two other friends came. They wanted to buy some wine. We all got up.

There was a party at the place of a mutual friend. ‘Will you come?’ ‘Sure. Call me when you reach there.’ He wanted to say something more. May be shake my hands or something like that too. But I just nodded walking away. ‘Call me.’ I was thinking, ‘this accidental encounter ruined a chance for me to say that he didn’t even meet me.’

That call never came. I was a little happy. He forgot me. I can hate him. It was only a few days later it suddenly occurred to me the meaning of that searching look on his face when that accidental meeting ended. Probably we may never meet each other in our lives again. He was trying for a farewell.

And then there was a rush of grief. For a lost friend.

Photo by Monkey Traffic

Killing them softly

Where does experimentation ends being art and start becoming a mind numbing bore? This fine line between brilliance and obscurity scares me as a scriptwriter. In a film, the margin for error is even narrower than we think.

Take Killing them softly. It does cultivate the atmosphere well. I loved those two half witted characters who rob the mafia. I loved the fact that in this film, among all the characters, the lead character deserved the least of our sympathies. I loved the fact that the action whenever it happens is not contrived or artificially complicated to feed our need for thrill.

Despite being smart, Killing them Softly clearly lacks something. It fails to make me care for anything happening on screen. It fails on the basics of story telling. I understand that the dialogue oriented scenes (where most of the action is revealed through tangent conversations) is the style of the book that was adapted into this film. But after Tarantino films, it is tough the shake off the feeling of familiarity when you see lot of smart irrelevant dialogue in an crime thriller. And the allusions to American economy at various points becomes just plain irritating (‘Okay, I get it. Please don’t play another speech by Obama in the backdrop, please.’)

And sometimes the play with visuals and sound (like the flashes and sounds a character experience after a fix, the scene of Brad pitt killing a character at a traffic signal) are innovative but not really enjoyable.

Yeah, I guess that is the problem in a nut shell. You can be clever as much as you want. But art is about making a connection. It is about taking you along. Any amount of visceral brilliance may still fall short on that.

What if your idea is already a movie?

Had the typical writer’s nightmare 2 days back. The idea I have been outlining for more than a month is similar to the one-line of a film which is already out there. I came up on this while browsing through IMDB. Now comes the important question- what to do? Continue outlining it or abandon it? Or watch the movie and decide how much execution is similar to what I have in mind? But I got an interesting advice from a writer-friend- don’t watch it. If you watch it, some elements are going to subconsciously spill over. Continue developing it and if you want, see it later. I feel that it makes most sense. So I have decided not to shelve one month of work but to boldly go forward. The decision is risky. Most usually a writer is judged by hearing some of his outlines and not by reading all his scripts. A very innovative execution of a commonplace idea is more likely to go waste than average execution of a high concept idea.

What I have learnt from this experience is that writers need to be constant touch with all the projects developing in parallel out there. We can’t watch every movie. But at least one can go through one-lines of movies without spending too much time. This has to be part of our routine.

Photo by  les5siamoises

The man vs the govt: the Anna Hazare redux

‘A great antagonist is some one who believes in the inherent goodness of his own intentions and a great drama is where everyone is an antagonist.’—Goldman

Some how I am getting a hang about the times of our freedom struggle (doesn’t mean that I think this is the ‘second freedom struggle’). All the hard facts about our freedom struggle aside, there are certain nuances and things about the atmosphere that becomes revealed to you in unique occasions like this… A politically shrewd person raising the right kind of issue with an immaculate sense of timing… The government which is exasperated by ‘this weird man’ with ‘eccentric ideas’ rigid in his own way… The other Indian parties and stake holders who don’t agree with him in most issues but still put up with him because he is effective… The public dictated more by pure emotions rather than nuances and subtext, ready to sacrifice for this total stranger… History does repeat in its own mysterious ways.

3 lessons television taught me about scriptwriting

Quentin Tarantino once said- ‘Movies are not about the weekend that they’re released, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably the most unimportant time of a film’s life.’ I wonder- In that grand scheme of things, where do broadcasting movies in cable networks figure? Is it the old age or is it premature death? Anyway, watching films on tv do give you certain insights about movie scriptwriting.

1-There are no ‘unimportant’ scenes.

Here is a test for every scene of your script. Suppose your movie is playing on tv. Some one clicks on the channel. This particular scene that you are writing comes on screen. The viewer doesn’t know the story, there are no recognisable faces- will he continue watching the movie? That is the test for the robustness of every scene that you have created.

We all tend to write some scenes on autopilot. How many times have we seen the portion where a police officer is introduced as tough and rough and how many of these introductions are really different? How many times have we seen a heroine being established as bubbly and carefree? Do all those scenes really stand out from each other? How many times have a psycho/ghost stalked our girl in a dark  room? Can’t that scene be banned for now?

Just a final example. How would you write opening and ending scenes of a movie about the rise and fall of a great boxer whose career finally gave way to animalistic rage, jealousy and sadomasochism? Think. And then watch Raging Bull. Continue reading

Do film reviews affect box office performance?

Following are the box office collections of two recent movies.

Tees Mar khan

Got poor reviews from majority of reviewers. Average of 7 reviews as per Bollywoodreviewz is 2.14/5

The collections following release is as follows : Friday – Rs 12.75 cr; Saturday – Rs 12.75 cr; Sunday – Rs 12 cr

Tees Maar Khan collected about 38 crore (US$ 8.4 million) nett at the end of its first weekend, thus becoming the third largest first weekend collection for Hindi movies. The first weekend collections of Dabangg was Rs.48.5 crore and 3 Idiots was Rs.40 crore. (Source)

First week collection for TMK is 50 crores while that for second week is 10 crores.

No one killed Jessica

Got good reviews from most. Average of stars awarded by 8 reviews again by Bollywoodreviewz is 3.5/5 Continue reading