Archive for the ‘Screenwriting’ Category

“NARI TERI YAHI KAHANI TO #BoreMatKarYaar”

A SCREENWRITING WORKSHOP BY PAROMITA VOHRA ON GENDER SENSITISATION

Feminist ideas always show up as an exception in Hindi films – or most films for that matter. It is crisis, revolution, morality play around themes of rape, dowry, divorce, revenge, victimhood or heroism. But does a feminist film always come waving a flag? Or can we imagine it more interestingly, more true to life, more humorous and sexy with more smarts and heart? Could Hindi Masala RomCom be more feminist than a film about feminism? Are songs and beauty, love and interiority full of feminist possibility (Yes!)? Can we write different female characters without writing different male characters? Can we re-conceptualise ‘issue-based films’? In other words – can we imagine an effortless feminism? One that is part of every kind of film?

Paromita Vohra is a writer & a filmmaker whose work mixes fiction and non-fiction to explore themes of urban life, popular culture, love, desire and gender. Her films as writer include the internationally released feature Khamosh Pani/Silent Waters and as well as the play Ishqiya Dharavi Ishtyle. She is the founder and Creative Director of Agents of Ishq (a unique digital project about sex & love in India)

Date: November 15th, 2018 (Thursday) Time: 05:30 PM

Venue: SWA Office, 201 – 204, Richa Building, Plot No. B – 29, Off New Link Road, Opposite Citi Mall, Andheri (West) Mumbai

NOTE: Only for SWA members. To attend, RSVP by sending an email to contact@swaindia.org Limited seats (for first 45 members only – On ‘First Come, First Served’ basis).

Details: www.swaindia.org/blog/gender-sensitisation-workshop-by-paromita-vohra/

As we have done in the past, this time too we are trying to source the scripts of some of the best bollywood films of last year. As most of you know, the scripts of Hollywood films are easily available online, even the unreleased ones. But we don’t have any such database of Hindi or Indian films. So that has been the primary reason for this initiative. And it has been possible only because some of the screenwriters and filmmakers have been very supportive about it. It’s only for educational purpose, and much like the spirit of the blog, is a complete non-commercial exercise.

To read the scripts of best bollywood films of last few years, click here. In this post, we are sharing the script of ‘A Death In The Gunj’.

Konkona (L), Disha (R)

Konkona Sen Sharma made an assured debut with A Death In The Gunj. More atmospheric and less plot, more characters and less events, this was a brave choice to make a debut with. A nuanced take on how toxic our daily casual masculinity can be, the film took us to a new place in an old era. No wonder the film was among the top favourites of all critics.

Happy reading!

Film : A Death In The Gunj

Director : Konkona Sensharma

Based on a short story by Mukul Sharma

Written by Konkona Sensharma

Addition Screenplay : Disha Rindani

As we have done in the past, this year too we are trying to source the scripts of some of the best bollywood films of the year. As most of you know, the scripts of Hollywood films are easily available online, even the unreleased ones. But we don’t have any such database of Hindi or Indian films. So that has been the primary reason for this initiative. And it has been possible only because some of the screenwriters and filmmakers have been very supportive about it. It’s only for educational purpose, and much like the spirit of the blog, is a complete non-commercial exercise.

To read the scripts of best bollywood films of last few years, click here. In this post, we are sharing the script of Shubh Mangal Saavdhan.

Hitesh Kewalya

Shubh Mangal Saavdhan managed an impossible task – took a sex related subject and made it a middle class family affair. All thanks to its brilliant writing. Though it’s a remake of a Tamil film but only the plot points are same. Hitesh Kewalya’s sparkling writing gave a new flavour, setting, characters, and atmosphere to the same story. The best part – without being crass or vulgar at any point, it was one of the funniest film of the year. Who would have thought that dipping a biscuit in tea and Ali Baba-40 Thieves story could be interpreted sexually too.  Innuendos were never so family friendly!

Happy reading!

Film : Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

Director : R S Prasanna

Screenplay & Dialogues : Hitesh Kewalya

(gif via http://www.invisiblerabbit.in/)

As we have done in the past, this year too we are trying to source the scripts of some of the best bollywood films of the year. As most of you know, the scripts of Hollywood films are easily available online, even the unreleased ones. But we don’t have any such database of Hindi or Indian films. So that has been the primary reason for this initiative. And it has been possible only because some of the screenwriters and filmmakers have been very supportive about it. It’s only for educational purpose, and much like the spirit of the blog, is a complete non-commercial exercise.

To read the scripts of best bollywood films of last few years, click here.

From this year, we have also decided that we will be sharing the pictures of the writers, and not some random still from the film. Let’s have a good look at the faces who burnt their blood to fill the final draft pages. We should have done it earlier par jab jaago tab savera.

Amit (L) Mayank (R)

Amit Masurkar made his debut with a small delightful indie film, Sulemani Keeda, which perfectly captured the mood and feel of the bollywood writers surviving on the fringe. Mayank Tewari was one of the leads in this film. The duo came together for Amit’s next film, Newton – a challenging subject which required treading a tight rope as it balances different point of views. The biggest achievement of the script was that it explored every political and human angle related to the story but was never morose, dry or heavy. No wonder it has emerged one of the top favourites of the critics and was a commercial success, too.

We are sharing the script of Newton in this post. Happy reading!

Film : Newton

Director : Amit V Masurkar

Story  :  Amit V Masurkar

Screenplay/Dialogues : Mayank Tewari & Amit V Masurkar

 

 

Trumbo And The Art Of War

Trumbo achieves what few others have, to fight with the purity of a radical and yet win with the cunning of a rich man. His words not mine. What I find fascinating is the use of irony, in its potent weaponised form.

Let me begin with a bit of context, while movies remain a source of entertainment, for most of us, I find them to be a remarkably accurate mirror of the human condition. So let’s take a long, good look at ourselves. This is the third piece in the What the movies taught me series. You can read the first part here, and second one is here.

I’ll wait for a moment while that cast list hits you. Deep breaths.

Trumbo is a autobiographical based on the life of Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter who is also an active member of the communist party of USA. Trumbo is one of the ten writers who is later subpoenaed under the allegations of furthering communist propaganda through his writings. He is later imprisoned for contempt of Congress and serves eleven months in a Federal Correctional Institution.

But even after his release the Hollywood Blacklist prevents him and several other communists and communist sympathisers from working in the industry. They’re disavowed by the studios and friends alike in the interests of protecting their own careers. Under struggling financial and familial circumstances, a freshly released from prison, publicly avoided Trumbo plots his revenge and the overthrow of the Hollywood Blacklist.

A Great Debate

At the heart of any good movie, I’d like to believe is a great debate. Whether that is internalised within a character or is played out between two or more. So it is too with Trumbo at its core lies a great debate between the idealist Arlen Hird and the rather pragmatic Trumbo. A debate that I find comes as close as possible within my rather limited knowledge of cinematic history, to the nature of victory and the means employed to fight within a democratic system.

There is a scene in the beginning of the movie that sets up the debate for what is to follow.
Hird: “… you know what it is, I don’t trust you … look I know what I am, I want this whole country to be different, top to bottom. If I get what I want, nobody gets their own lake.
Trumbo: “Well that would be a very dull life.”
Hird: “Yeah, for you not for the guys who built this. If I’m wrong, tell me, but ever since I’ve known you. You talk like a radical but you live like a rich guy.”
Trumbo: “That is true.”
Hird: “Well, I don’t know if you’re willing to lose all of this just to do the right thing.”
Trumbo: “Well, I despise martyrdom and I won’t fight for a lost cause. So you’re right I am not willing to lose it all. (points to family) Certainly not them. But I am willing to risk it all. That’s where the radical and the rich guy make a perfect combination. You see the radical, they fight with the purity of Jesus but the rich guy wins with the cunning of Satan.”
Hird: “Oh please, please just shut up…”

A man fighting only for his principles, for his staunch belief in doing the right thing, is willing to risk it all, his finances, his privileged position in society, his career and his family, but what he’s not prepared to do is lose it all. Employing whatever means it takes to keep them. I found this particular scene to be a great character reveal in all its complex layering. It also seems to be a particular form of irony that a man fighting on principle is willing to use the cunning of Satan to simply win. Irony has a major role to play in the movie as we shall further discover.

Trumbo is the thing grey line between characters and heroes written previously, while most are bound, straightjacketed within their archetypes to the point of boredom through countless repetitions. I talk of the Batman archetype, fights evil but won’t cross a line. Characters who will do what it takes to achieve their selfish goals.

Unprincipled ends call for unprincipled means.
Principled ends always call for principled means.

Else the disparity between the means and ends lead to a loss of viewer empathy for the hero’s struggle or an abandoning of belief in his cause. The unprincipled means are always introduced at a point of departure within the character arc. Suddenly the guy you’ve been rooting for, this good guy turns evil forced by circumstance he abandons the very reasons for which he is fighting and we will pity and the hero falls in our graces. Trumbo will have none of that, with his usual pragmatism and verbosity he remains true a businessman fighting for the good.

Result Vs. Ideology

It is a very fine distinction but one I believe merits drawing your attention to. In almost all fights and wars based merely on principle and ideology we have always witnessed the subordination of the result of the war to the dominant ideology that is the cause of it, in terms of a character’s priority.

Fighting the good fight has always been more important than winning the good fight. Tireless martyrs have sacrificed themselves on the altar of righteousness simply because of their stubborn refusal to do what it takes to win, they’d rather do what it takes to be right.
But herein lies the genius of Trumbo while he is a man fighting for principles he’ll be damned if he’ll allows them to interfere with his victory. Sample this scene from the movie:

Arlen: “…Studios, we should sue them…”
Trumbo: “Yes brilliant! Keep losing. Give all your money away to lawyers.”
Arlen: “I’d rather lose for the right reasons.”
Trumbo: “Why! It’s still losing, you lose, I lose, we all lose! Don’t you see that. And the whole goddamn country stays scared and dead…Arlen we can do this, we can beat them, we can win.”
Arlen: “I don’t care if I win.”
Trumbo: “Bullshit, everybody wants to win.”
Arlen: “No you want to win, I want to change things.”
Trumbo: “I want to win so that I can change things.”

I often think that while in these larger than life rebellions against the system, we might see a lot more victories on the side of the good if every man fighting the good fight wasn’t so damn hung up on fighting it the right way.

The answer to that of course isn’t violence but a more insidious way of collapsing the system but showing the hypocrisy or two-facedness of it. Something that I learnt from Trumbo.

The Nature Of Loss
There is no war without loss and every fight has its repercussions, it changes the people who go through it. Also tragedy in some form or another is required for a good plot anyways. Aristotle argued that tragedy cleansed the heart through pity and terror, purging us of our petty concerns and worries by making us aware that there can be nobility in suffering. He called this experience ‘catharsis’.

What is fascinating me for in Trumbo is the nature of the loss he undergoes. Since this is a true story it is stranger and certainly more enchanting than most fiction. While the most cliched way of dealing with tragedy in conflict is to show how the protagonist becomes in one way or another the very thing he is trying to destroy. A cop who becomes corrupt to see justice done, a doctor who falls sick to the very virus he is trying to eradicate, etc. But Trumbo is special the nature of his loss is the dulling of the very faculties that he depends upon for his livelihood, it is a betrayal of his passion for what he loves to do, write. In the context of his life story after being driven away from the big studios, Trumbo finds employment writing the low budget, low brow Kings Brothers. At the same time he has to write under pseudonyms, being unable to collect two Oscars for his ghost written scripts. In the midst of this there is this beautiful scene where Arlen becomes in many ways the voice of his own passion for writing calling for fealty towards it. After Arlen botches a script about an alien bonking a farm girl by filling it with political references, this is the scene as it happens:

Trumbo: “…What the hell were you thinking?”
Arlen: “I was thinking, it’s why I am a writer. To say things that matter. Remember that, I was a reporter. I was nominated for a Pulitzer. I fought in Spain and I know Ernest Hemingway. I actually know him and he knows me. If I walk into a bar in Paris, maybe not my name but I’ll get a wave.
And you, you won the national fucking book award. I mean what are we doing?”

“I mean do you, do you ever miss writing something, forget great just good. I mean you must have ideas still, right?”

Imagine being a portrait painter in Florence, one of the finest, one with the most generous patrons and then to be reduced to a position where you have to paint road signs, the guy who paints those square lines on roads to demarcate lanes, to make a living and even those are being criticised for not being straight enough. The dulling of the senses is a particularly painful experience.

To reduce the very thing that makes one unique, the very thing that is the foundation of one’s self esteem and standing in society to purposefully take a blunt file and file away at it, to reduce it to rather pathetic ordinary standards would require an extraordinary amount of strength.

And yet Trumbo soldiers on, because to him this temporary period of producing garbage is a path to victory.

Irony As A Weapon

Perhaps the most difficult thing in the movie that Trumbo has to encounter is to keep quelling the insistent voice of Arlen which also mirrors to a very large extent some of his own voices that the audience would expect his character to possess. Especially when they decide to write a script for Buddy Ross a producer who has given testimony against them in closed court.

Trumbo: “This is going to be a very big movie and if Buddy gets a good script.”
Arlen: “Which you’re going to give him.”
Trumbo: “No, which I am going to sell him.”
Arlen: “For money, ‘cos that’s why we did all of this, right, it was for the money.

Trumbo: “Why can’t you not see this, if we get one big movie, we can get all the big movies. And this whole rotten thing could collapse on the sheer irony that every unemployable writer is employed.”

What I find brilliant in the scene is the use of Irony as a weapon, perhaps the greatest weapon there is to destroy a system from within. There is no defence it allows for, in its expose of the hypocrisy of injustice in this case.

Since the movie I’ve been thinking of employing irony as a weapon. Using actions that bring about a deliberate, pervasive sentiment of irony so strong that it wins the fight in your favour. That is precisely what Trumbo teaches us.

We’ve heard of “become the change you want to see in the world”. But what Trumbo shows us is becoming, manifesting an irony, changes the world itself.

– Percy Bharucha

(The author has been previously published in eFiction and eFiction India, Eastlit, Reading Hour, Gratis, The Madras Mag, The Ascent, The Creative Cafe, Invisible Illness, The Writing Cooperative, Bigger Picture, Hundred Naked Words, Be Yourself, Fit Yourself Club, Hopes and Dreams for the Future, Written Tales, Poets Unlimited and The Haven. He writes regularly on Medium and runs a bi-weekly comic strip called The Adult Manual. He also tweets infrequently at  @Sab_Bakwaas_Hai)

India Film Project and FilterCopy has launched a new Web Writers’ Lab. The lab has been designed to take the selected participants and the scripts (for a web sketch) through a formal process of screenwriting, making it adaptive to viewers, and giving an opportunity to learn the skills which are essential to screenwriting for web. And finally, the web sketch will be produced by them.

In short, Join + Write + Learn + Give to web = Web Writers’ lab

– Once you submit your scripts, the team will curate and shortlist the 20 scripts who get a chance to attend a one-day workshop with writers of FilterCopy at their HQ, Mumbai.

– At the end of it, 5 scripts will be shortlisted for a five day scriptwriting lab at Mumbai (Travel+stay will be taken care of). The emphasis will be on fine-tuning the scripts so that they can be produced into individual sketches by FilterCopy.

– The writer whose script will be selected to be made into a video will receive a standard fee for their script

– It’s open only for comedy sketches

– Last day of submission – 31st December, 2017

-Registration fee for the lab is Rs 1,000.

– For more details, do click here.

 

The Film And Television Institute of India, Pune has introduced a new short course for television fiction. See the attached picture for all the basic details. And click here for more.