If you liked the Day1 report of the FWA Seminar by Mr Screeny, there is more. Here is the Day 2 report – the good, the bad, the ugly and the goss. Quite long but worth it. Do read.

FWA Seminar @NFAI Pune – Day 2

9 am, usual crowd, catching hold of whatever seats that were available with many many people standing in the aisles. Day 2 was better since there were more filmmakers than pedantic film critics/scholars talking about cinema.

Session 4 – Anger and Rebellion: The New Wave Cinema (plus the Angry Young Man’s Evolution)

Govind Nihlani

The 70s was a decade of discontent with the Naxalbari movement, the Bangladesh war & eventually the JaiPrakash Narayan movement against the corruption & the failure of the state. People started feeling restless & cheated and there was a built up of discontent in the country and then the Jai Prakash Narayan movement happened which led to Emergency being declared. Every line was censored, the civil liberties were taken away, the freedom of expression was impounded.

From that environment emerged a phenomena in Indian Cinema – the angry young man – Amitabh Bachchan-Salim-Javed, Om Puri-Naseerudin shah (Aakrosh, Ardhasatya), Mirch Masala etc. Parallel cinema picked up. You can see how the then contemporary/current socio-political situations were reflected in the cinema of those times. Even at the time of partition, partition based films were not being made but now, thanks to the discontent, there were films based on partition like Garam Hawa.

Rashmi Doraiswamy – presented a very well analyzed paper on the angry young man phenomena specifically with regard to Salim-Javed’s films. (Don’t remember anything sadly from it- because again it was almost a read-out-word-to-word-from-her-article than an impromptu/informal discourse with notes’ consultation)

Ashish Rajadhyaksha – showed clips from Albert Pinto ko Gussa kyun aata hai, Arvind Desai ki Ajeeb Daastan and stated it was a very interesting film written by two very different writers – Vijay Tendulkar & Cyrus Mistry. Albert Pinto clipping was the scene in which Naseer comes up to the gang – Satish Shah, Avtar Gill and requests them not to do ‘lafda’ with Dominique. The whole scene was apparently improvised by the actors lending a very realistic portrayal.

I went one day to Saeed Mirza’s house and saw a big board with lots of charts, papers, diagrams etc stuck – almost in an expanding spiral-esque manner. I asked Saeed what it was. He coolly replied “my script”!

Kundan Shah

I feel we’re reading too much and doing a lot of analysis of the angry young man vis-à-vis Salim-Javed’s films. Their scripts were not socially rebellious, but more parasitic. How many angry people have turned into a smuggler ala Deewar ?

We have lots of talent in India but how do we crack it ?

JBDY was made thinking it will not release. We were almost making a home video since we had the freedom to do anything. The budget of Albert Pinto was 2&1/2 lakhs. I was the assistant & the clap continuity guy and everything on Albert Pinto. During the middle of the shoot Saeed had to go meet the producers so I had to ask him how he wanted the scene (which to be shot) to be directed.

I wanted to be an assistant on a foreign production film which was being made in those days – Gandhi. The perks were tempting – 10,000 rupees salary for 6 months, plus 10,000 rupees allowance. And the job was ‘limited’ – crowd management. I got the job through some contact.

I asked Saeed what do I do ? Should I go ahead with the job or write my script? He said “Don’t be silly. Write your script!” . And I started writing JBDY.

The reference to ‘gutter’ in JBDY was intentional. I was the secretary in my society building, and there was a gutter leakage probem in my building. I used to see that every morning the gurkha would drain out the ‘gutter ka paani’ in a bucket. And he would do this everyday without fail. I always used to wonder what happened at night and I put that and many such references in my film.

Jahnu Barua

Don’t worry I only have half a page so you guys are safe from a long boring lecture.

Anger – Anger of a filmmaker – I will talk through my experience. I grew up with anger. The environment in which I grew up, gave me anger. When I came to FTII, I was an angry young man. I learnt filmmaking and when I passed out I was still an angry young man. I made many films as an angry young man. Today, I’m still an angry man – though not so young.

Anger is the catalyst for the filmmaker. If the anger isn’t there we can’t make films. I don’t know if my films will be called ‘New Wave’ or not. I try to put in 100% anyway.

I come from the North-East – at any and every moment, one can get angry easily. The things that happen there are unbelievable. Compared to them, the incidents that happen in Mumbai are nothing. I make films to not to overcome my anger, but somewhere we get to understand a few things. I just kept on making films & never tried to analyze these things. I don’t know the definition of ‘New Wave’ and never tried to analyze it either. I don’t even know how to categorize my films.

Films should come from the heart – regardless of what one wants to make. ‘Commercial’ or ‘Arty’ – films should be truthful. I feel the intention of the filmmaker becomes clear while watching it – whether it comes from the heart or whether it has been made for a different purpose.

I often quote – A screenwriter is the first to be contacted and the last to be paid – may be even not. And if you are a writer-director like me, the writing fee is almost forgotten. They say “Your writing fees is in the director fees”. I try to express my anger in my films – how do I do it ?

After Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Maara, I feel I’ve sobered down. And I’m sad that I’ve sobered down. When I wrote it, my anger was it’s peak. Why ? I’d met militants, seen bloodshed, suffering & death at close quarters. I met a woman who was raped continuously for 2 months both by the army & the militants. When she narrated her story, I instantly wanted to make a film on her. I even wrote the script.

But I asked myself – will my film be able to resolve her problems ? NO

Will it matter to the audience and will they take an interest in solving her problems ? NO

I studied the whole problem differently and tried to get into the root cause. What is missing in our society ?

Then I wrote Maine Gandhi… not to express my anger but to resolve my anger. And I’m happy I made that film. But sadly I had sobered down after that.

I remember how people perceive the ‘art’ filmmakers. I was invited to a university seminar on Media’s Social Responsibility and one after the other there was a lot of attack on the ‘art’ films. One of the speakers kept referring to them as ‘mad off-beat filmmakers’. Every time he said that – the audience would look at me.

My first film was produced by NFDC. The ‘new wave’ films need promotion and NFDC itself may not be enough.

Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!  – Satyajit Ray made 32 films and not one of them went to the Oscars. Let us not please look at the Oscars. And let us not please concentrate only on Mumbai. India is a reservoir of stories. Every home has a story. Find them.

Open Forum – (questions from other writers/filmmakers and audience)

Govind Nihlani – Have we as a society lost anger ? Where is the anger ? Are we filmmakers writing anything in anger ? Are we even having any anger ? Do you see anger in films ?

Saeed Mirza- Times have changed. Example – Tere Bin Laden – it’s a minor but an important film. Anger is expressed in humor. The whole concept of terror has been destroyed. To me that’s also an angry film. JBDY was also an angry film.

I have tried to mix my anger with my personal struggle. How do you make an idea to a narrative ? I start from my personal and then go to the social, and slowly the text becomes richer.

If we refuse to see the turmoil & tension in the land we will still be making bad commercial films. We turn a blind eye to the problems – North East, Naxals, MNS, Telangana, Kashmir, Tamils vs Kannadigas.

Shama Zaidi – Why in films is anger a male preserve ?

Saeed Mirza – What about Mirch Masala & Godmother ?

Govind Nihlani – How is anger handled in the ‘new wave’ tamil cinema ?

K Hariharan – In tamil cinema the representation of anger has changed & shifted from the pleasurable zone to the disgust/disturbing/’Bibhathsa’ zone

Govind Nihlani – Many a times, anger is used as an excuse to extract vengeance. It deteriorates into vengeance and from being social it degenerates to personal.

Bhavna Somaiyya – What about the anger of Sridevi in her dance scene in Lamhe or Salman’s anger at his father in Maine Pyaar Kiya- when he goes to his room and punches the sandbag ?

(I don’t know how the panelists responded to the above question since I was busy banging my head away at the nearest wall at the sheer stupidity of the aforementioned question. Apparently Saeed Mirza explained to her that they were talking about a different kind of anger – angst)

Session 5 – Urban Foibles and a New Individualism: Current Trends in Indian Scriptwriting 1995-2010

Kundan Shah

I’m trying to be a practicing filmmaker and am making a ‘sponsored’ film on the theme – Overfed Urban and Underfed Rural. If I say what we see & what the truth is, the script may get rejected. So now I’m writing a neutral/backup (not so hard hitting-real) script in the event the first (more honest) one gets rejected.

Anees Bazmee is not the beginning and ending of writing. New talents are not getting a chance. There is a lot of illiteracy in the film industry.

Ranjani Majumdar

showed clips from Dombivali Fast, Being Cyrus & No Smoking talking about the urban view that the filmmakers created in these films

John Mathew Mathan

Dictionary defines the word ‘trends’ as a popular preference or latest style/fashion.

Is storytelling about something as fleeting as fashion ?

Bheja Fry started a new trend. Similarly may be even Peepli Live might start a trend.

My initiation into cinema was through Ankur, Bhuvan Shome, Sara Aakash, Garam Hawa. By the time I wanted to make films, NFDC had stopped producing films. If you are making a film like Gandhi, you need money.

Storytelling is different from Reportage, which is a big business.

According to a fable, once in a city which had a temple with statues of gods, a theft took place – some idols were stolen. People stepped up vigilance and issued death penalties/warnings to catch the thief, but still the thefts didn’t stop.

One fine day the thief was finally caught. When asked why he committed the crime he replied “I was a nobody before I started stealing. Today the whole city knows me”

Is this the reason why people write ?

People are looking for resolutions, the answers to the things they don’t/can’t understand. And if there is no resolution then they’ll not spare us.

Frank Capra says – “Thou shall not bore thy audience” That is my most important mantra.

What do I need in a story for me to decide this is the story worth telling ?

TIME – an abbreviation for

Thought provoking,

Information,

Motivation (does it move/touch the audience),

Entertainment

If you tell a story which is believable, then the TIME capsule is complete. The best example is – Gandhi. On 15th August every year, they show Gandhi on TV. Films like Godfather, Pulp Fiction withstand the test of time.

Bhavna Somaiya

Kamal Hassan says “I take my critics very seriously so they better do their job well”

What I look for in a film ?

To me it’s like buying a sari in a sari shop. I’m paying for it and give me a fantastic sari. Don’t ask me if this border is correct or that color is good. Just give me a fantastic sari.

Astitva – The turning point in the film isn’t the scene when Tabu sleeps with Mohnish Behl. The turning point is the scene when she narrates the incident to her city friend & her husband.

Dil chahta hai – I was surprised during the Aamir proposing to Preity Zinta at her engagement scene. After the resolution, I felt Aamir should bend down and touch her foster father’s feet. But then I thought may be he won’t do it. Eventually when Aamir did bend down to touch Preity’s foster father’s feet, I was surprised since the director is from an urban upbringing and it is not a part of his culture to do the same.

When I questioned Farhan later about the same, he said the touching the feet suggestion had come from Aamir Khan.

DCH showed real parents – no gajar ka halwa, no sone ka kada – just like how I would be with my family

Rensil D’ Silva (came in wearing a cap onstage which had FBI written on it)

I wanted to make a ‘real & dark’ film about terrorists bombing metro stations in USA but the budget wasn’t enough. So I had to rope in Kareena Kapoor & Saif Ali Khan and put in songs to get the budget I wanted. These are the sort of things one has to do. (Here’s a question Mr Rensil D’Silva – why the ‘aspirational’ USA ? Aren’t there enough bomb blasts in Mumbai, Malegaon, Delhi, Ahmadabad, Pune, Bangalore and of course the punching bag state of India- Kashmir. Or would you rather make a film about the american victims of terror than us Indian victims of terror ?)

There is no reason for angst anymore. This is the best time to be making films. Mainstream cinema is making ‘different’ films. The fact that personal, individualistic, quirky films like No Smoking & Being Cyrus get made is very assuring. These films would not be possible otherwise. The trends are what we make behind the camera. It really is an optimistic time.

Open Forum – (questions from other writer/filmmakers and audience)

Q) Why are so many comedies being made ?

Kundan Shah – People come to the multiplexes to seek an instant gratification – hence the comedies.

Q) Film length ? How much is too much?

John Mathew Mathan – If you are saying something interesting then there is no time limit. If you don’t have anything interesting then even 30 min is too much.

Q) The films not addressing ‘real’ issues ? I come from a small town where people have stopped going to cinema halls since the quality of films are so bad.

Rensil D’Silva – It’s all about ‘aspirational’. My driver aspires to wear jeans like me and a T shirt like the one I’m wearing. He is not interested in seeing films on problems. Why would anybody be interested in seeing films on their problems when they aspire to be someone better/for something better. Hence people do not watch films on real issues/problems. Even my maid only watches ‘happy’ films.

(Needless to say the above swooping statement was met with a furor from the audience)

Abhishek Sharma ( Tere Bin Laden) – There is a difference between someone living in a small town and someone who has come to Mumbai to work. The former are happy living where they are and the latter have come to the metro looking for work and wanting to be someone in life. Hence somebody like say your driver working in Mumbai may not like watching ‘multiplex films’.

Q) Where have all the writers gone ? Why aren’t there any more writers ?

Manish Gupta – They’ve all become directors ! Me, Anurag Kashyap, Abbas Tyrewala, Abhishek Sharma, Anees Bazmee, Rumi Jafry…

Session 6 – The Road Ahead: Globalism, the Digital Revolution and Other Attractions

This was more or less an open session with discussions involving questions posed from the audience. The panellists were – Rakesh Om Prakash Mehra, Paresh Mokashi, Rohan Sippy, Navdeep Singh, Satish Manwar, Abhishek Sharma, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vivek Agnihotri & chaired/moderated by the very polite and all accommodating Anubhav Pal.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra – Let us flash-forward to 2025. Will America successfully ‘entertainise’ (invade the film industry) India like they have done Europe already ? A film like Avatar today grossed a lot in India– not just in the English version but even the subtitled & regional language dubbed versions were lapped up all over the country.

West has already invaded all over the world with media, books, movies, TV etc. Will we be watching ‘Americanised’ entertainment in India or will they be watching ‘Indianised’ entertainment ?

Vikramaditya Motwane – Roger Ebert said in his review of Udaan that the film could have been set anywhere. This year has been a watershed for Indian film industry since we have a film in every important film festival all over the world. What’s more – these films are showing India in a non regressive, non tourist manner.

Rohan Sippy – The commercial film industry is also failing. We need to decide if we will follow the Hollywood model of Indianization or should we be telling ‘Indian stories’.

ROM – The more Indian our films are, the more global they will be. The story has to originate from our soil, our ideas. However, one grouse that I have is with characters singing songs. Regardless of whether he/she is a doctor, gangster, cop, engineer, businessman – he/she still lip-syncs to a song. As a result of which audiences abroad do not take us seriously.

Anubhav Pal – When you are telling a ‘local’ story, do people abroad identify ?

Satish Manwar- Yes. eg: Pather Panchali is so rich in the sense of its aesthetics. It is not a difference of urban/rural. It’s the sense of aesthetics which matters. People from Vidharbha like the film (Gabhricha Paus), people from LA like it too. The issue from your side needs to be genuine & we need to be honest to the creative process, and the aesthetics of the process of filmmaking.

Paresh Mokashi – That is the way to go ahead. We need to know the usage of cinematic language in our films, regardless of our subject. We’re discussing-focussing more on content but not on the technique. Two films based on the same subject are different. Why ? It’s the filmmaking material. Deewar, Sholay both were popular films with Amitabh Bachchan but similar films with the same actor have flopped. There are some ‘art’ films which are attention holding. Similarly there are some ‘art’ films which are boring. Just having a good subject doesn’t guarantee a good film.

RS – We have to appeal to ourselves culturally, and make it work in our own market, and then work it in a market that is not ours. eg: Stephen Chow’s films are set in Hong Kong but have a universal appeal.

Abhishek Sharma – Tere Bin Laden wasn’t about Osama. It was about a journalist from a 3rd world country wanting to live the ‘American dream’. The journalist could not have been an Afghani since their lingo is too different. An Indian journalist would’ve been too unbelievable. Pakistani culture & lingo is very much like ours. Hence it had to be a Pakistani journalist. People ask ‘then how come it is an Indian film?’ Because, it is a film told by an Indian storyteller with his roots.

Just because the audience liked Udaan, Tere Bin Laden, Peepli Live doesn’t mean suddenly the audience has become mature. The audience was always there. We need to mature. The writers, producers, directors all of us.

Sometimes people from marketing asked me ‘What is your Target Audience?’ How can a writer say what his script’s target audience is ? Tere Bin Laden ran not just in India but also in Dubai – among the Indians, Pakistanis & the Dubai sheikhs!

Vivek Agnihotri – Somewhere the NRI market has also accepted Hindi films. During the making of any film the oft asked question is ‘How will the NRI audience react to this film ?’ And we started catering to them gradually in our films. Soon the common man got lost from our films. It is very sad. I think it is the best time to write Indian stories. There are problems all over India. 70% of Indians live in villages, average income is less than 1$. We’re celebrating throughout the year with festivals all along. We should emerge as a country making films about us – the real us. The minute we say ‘small town’ – we think of Bihar/Jharkhand. All this is thanks to the Indian media. Literature is another area which we’ve ignored for long.

AP – Was it a conscious decision to set Manorama in a small town with the protagonist being a cop who is a drunkard ? (Mr Pal – next time please watch the film before asking an intelligent looking question on it.)

Navdeep Singh – It was not a conscious decision to set in a small town. Every story has its time & space and yes we have been not seeing the rural India/small town India in our Hindi films, unlike the tamil films where they have been exploring that territory a lot authentically.

AP – How come the protagonists in your films are outsiders ?

ROM- Story ki requirement hi waisi thi. Ek mein gori aa gayi aur ek mein apna hi aa gaya. Otherwise the kind of requirements I have to cater to are weird. Sometimes I’m asked “Interval daal do, interval mein samose bikte hain”. Why should I put an interval so that samosas can sell ? My 3 ACT structure has to become a 2 ACT structure now.

Do your personal cinema, tell the story you tell best. Why put someone else’s story ?

Writing is scary, it is terrible & I say please don’t make me a writer. I’m not a true writer.

A screenplay is a story told in pictures. It’s not on stage (play), it’s not in the mind (novel).

If we’re only deliberately making social films, we should be making documentaries.

Bottom line – make what you feel.

Open Forum – (questions from other writer/filmmakers and audience)

Q) What is the difference between an ‘art’ film & a ‘commercial’ film ?

VA – It all depends on budgets. In my mind every film is a commercial film.

VM– Sadly it’s the stars. Without AB Jr, Dilli 6 is a non commercial film.

Q) Would you have taken SRK as Dada Saheb Phalke in your film ?

PM- SRK as Dada Sahib Phalke ? ………………. I’m still thinking

AS – Even Asoka ?

PM – As far as the ‘cross-over’ is concerned, Jan Aranya, Pather panchali crossed over 40 yrs ago. If it is a good film, it will cross over.

ROM – The South American films have done it – Ya tu Mama Tambien, City of God, Pan’s Labyrinth all have crossed over to become big hits. I remember the director of Pan’s Labyrinth’s previous film wasn’t that big a hit – because it was too ‘local’. He corrected it in his next and the cinematic idiom was more appropriate in the next. We need to remember – more pictures, less words.

Q)You say your film was to be a realistic depiction of the struggle of the football players to save their club. Then why was Billo Rani there in the promos ?

VA – Why was Billo Rani there in the film itself ??? There is a lot of pressure while making a film and we all succumb to it.

Q) Why are there workshops for the writers when it is the producers who need to be ‘educated’ ?

ROM – Write a good script. Pehle likho toh sahi yaar!

AS – As far as tips on pitching/summarizing a script is concerned, I can tell you from personal experience working in adlabs for 4 yrs as an executive, you need to sell yourself – the one liner, the idea, the USP. Most of the scripts don’t have an act – write damn good scripts. Executives do not read beyond 15 pages if the script doesn’t interest them. And if it does, then they finish it and forward it to their seniors – and the same 15 page rule applies to them too. Never ever say/compare it with other films in your pitch – like ‘this script is Pretty Woman meets Chandni Bar’. Write great original scripts and original one liners.

Q) Would you continue making regional films ?

PM – Yes I want to make more Marathi films.

SM – No. There is no money recovery. I’m a filmmaker and I want to explore every genre. My film was shown everywhere abroad and people all over the world enjoyed it. However at a screening in PVR Mumbai, only 15-20 people were there. I want to reach to more people.

Q) Can you make a film not in your language/culture ?

ROM – Write a script yaar pehle. Murgi ne anda diya nahi aur butter chicken khaane ki baat kar rahe ho.

AS– I just made one about Pakistan, and I’ve never been there before.

Q) Does it have to be set in Mumbai or Jamshedpur or Rajasthan ?

ROM – Yaar ek script toh likho yaar. Woh sab baad mein kar dena.

VM – If you have a story to tell you can set it anywhere in any language. Stories do not need to be rooted. They’re local but the impact needs to be global.

And that was it more or less. Quite a few irrelevant & stupid questions and quite some standard responses. Apparently Rakesh Omprakash Mehra wasn’t so arrogant as before.

Was quite a decent 2nd day – more so since there were more filmmakers than scholars. Not that scholars cant be fun but pedantic ones – Nooo. May be the next time it should be paid because the discussions were quite digressing at times, and the bad questions asked by the audience members hurt man, really hurt.

Comments
  1. Anurag says:

    very informative post.Loved the views of navdeep singh the most.

  2. Divyesh says:

    yes that’s true…questions from the public were very vague, and not towards the points discussed at all, especially in the final segment.

  3. shoonyakonn says:

    Informative. Thanks a lot.

  4. Manu Warrier says:

    Screeny resurfaces, was wondering where he dissapeared. .. well reported Screeny. i guess Sriram Ragavan’s Zing was missing, people who were there last time will know. Second day is lot better

  5. V1kasN says:

    Sahi hai, dono posts badhiya the.Thoda aur masala…
    On first day, inside the hall; a man was making his way through the crowd saying out loud- “When a man is making his way to the grave, you should let him go” Peeche mud ke dekha to Saeed Mirza khade the.

    I was standing few steps away from the door and Honey Irani walked in. Maine unko dekha, unhone mujhe dekha…..”I am ex’s ex, can you get me a seat” …Hain! I thought about it for a second and then …
    side mein ek banda baitha tha, usko bola – dost inko baithne de. lekin tab tak unko volunteer aage leke chal diya tha aur jisko khada kiya tha uski seat bhi kisi ne maar li thi.

  6. vasna says:

    Very Nice Article

  7. […] – Screeny’s previous posts can be read here, here and here. […]

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