Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Dear friends, supporters and well-wishers,

Sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart for thousands of amazing congratulatory messages that we have received in the last few days. We are simply overwhelmed! Many of you have asked us to pen down the experience of discovering, writing and creating the inspiring story of ‘Poorna’ for the screen. It’s difficult to summarise two year long journey in a single post. But here’s a modest attempt to capture that frustrating but exciting journey.

Discovering Poorna

It all started in August 2014 when Shreya (my wife and co-writer) first heard about this incredible story of Malavath Poorna on NDTV. I also noticed that the story had tremendous potential. I had been working on a mountaineering film which wasn’t progressing at the expected pace, so I was not very sure about taking this up. Instead I was looking to go back being a writer for hire. I was both financially broke and unsure of taking another spec script adventure.

However, the symbolism and the potential messaging in the story was too strong to resist! The idea of a thirteen year old overcoming our societal attitudes towards girl child, hopeless education systems, and the almost insurmountable social challenges of being born a Tribal Girl, it overtook all my professional inertia. We took the first baby step towards the film by trying to summarize what this story symbolized, by spending several nights of furious notes making.

I had a “writerly” conviction when I wrote a treatment note and sent an e mail proposal to the Telengana Government. I was almost sure that no one will reply and this will be forgotten.

But the government responded, and soon Dr. R S Praveen Kumar spoke to us on phone. On 25th August 2014, we boarded a flight to Hyderabad to meet Dr. Praveen Kumar. By this time I had an entire file on Poorna, creation of Telangana and RS Praveen Kumar life.

The film looked like a strong polemic which worried Shreya, but it satiated my unconsciousness deeply because I wanted a film which has a practical use. My brother used to mention that John Le Carre’s “The Constant Gardner” is shown to all Oxfam staff in programs in Africa. I wanted to create that kind of film.

Dr. Praveen Kumar met us and understood why we wanted to make a movie on this. He was also quite impressed with our ideas about the film but he kept asking us “are you sure…Prasahanthji…!! Are you sure?” I told him even if the film doesn’t happen, I was just very happy to meet him. So he, in a split second, agreed to do a chai pe charcha next day outside his office.

It was Sunday. We had tea in the “shadow of guns” at the Andra Pradesh Police Officers Mess lawns. I understood that even though Dr. Praveen Kumar works in social welfare department; he is a decorated IPS officer whose life is valuable to the state. I can’t say more.

Dr. Praveen Kumar is a man of immense vision, and has razor sharp understanding of conflict and human emotions. Poorna is an extension of his belief, and our access to the subject matter of the film.

So in the meeting Dr. Kumar took our thought systems like a storm, in half an hour I formed the structure of the film in my head.

I also had a giant déjà vu moment. Interestingly, Dr. Praveen Kumar had already featured in a movie called Rakta Charitam – a film written by me, in which Kannada Superstar Sudeep played his role as a cop who took on the mighty faction leader Paritala Ravi, played by Vivek Oberoi.

I love kiccha Sudeep and I took that as a divine signal. That very day, Shreya and me wrote a one liner sitting in a corner in his office and carried edits in our hotel.

It was all spec and since I’ve been a writer for hire for large-hearted producers, this film brought in a very tough transition. All expenses…outstation travel, local stay, local travel, expensive print out at hotels…were going to be on our own expense. Nobody was funding or managing the usual 5-star-all-expenses-paid writing extravaganza. So we had to be very careful because it seemed it would take time for this film to be made, much like all films do.

Then we met Poorna and Anand (climbed the Mount Everest with her), and had a free-wheeling chat about their life aspirations, over lots of ice cream and cold drinks. I noticed Poorna looked like an old soul. Not much in terms of plot points but I got a fair idea about the abstractions which would be used in adapting her life for reel.

We spent rest of time reading up Social welfare school books and getting acquainted with facts; because we were dealing with a story involving a government sponsored program.

A lot of plot also comes from our own observations. On a road trip to Kashid, we had seen poor students sweeping the school in Maharashtra while the rich ones kept sauntering here and there. We decided to put that in our film.

Creating The Script

It was clear that the film will have to be dramatized heavily as compressing events within the cinematic time would be big challenge. Then there is a huge North Indian bias which prevails in Bollywood. Why would they care about a village called Pakala in a town called Nizamabad?

That overwhelmed us completely. The problems presented themselves often. It paralyzed the entire writing.

So we put deep thinking aside and made marketing pitches, and started to write to almost all indie producers, from Kerela to Mumbai. My experiences with studios weren’t very good earlier, so I avoided them for fear of further disappointment.

Almost all showed very less interest despite the fact that Telangana Government had given us an impressive list of freebies like free locations and subsidized stay and local travel for the film crew.

Many producers kept squeezing us and often offered other projects to direct or write.

Another idea was to approach a “big” director like Neeraj Pandey, who could make this possible. But I realized making a movie is easier here than to get Neeraj Pandey or Adi Chopra’s phone number. The people in between don’t let that happen.

We thought it was happening because we had not put enough work on the script. So this time around Shreya came up with a character of a cousin sister for Poorna called Priya. Suddenly it opened up lot of pain in the narrative and gave us tragic dimensions of Poorna’s character- same arc played out as a tragedy – two sisters – the happy go lucky breaks out while the other talented and ambitious one is thrown into darkness of early marriage destroying all her hopes . Thus it became a film about a girl who Dr. Praveen Kumar, despite his best efforts, wont be able to save. That gave Dr. Praveen Kumars’ character a certain hurry and pace in this game of numbers – girls inside the school and girls outside the school.

The script was rewritten with this central idea and results showed up immediately. When Ashok Purang (Producer of Filmistan) heard it, he reconnected me to my friend Tanisha (actor) who I had worked with in Sarkar Raj. In the first narration, Tanuja ji (Actor/Tanisha’s mother) got very emotional. They had not yet set up their production house but offered all logistical support if I was to make this soon.

Back To Hyderabad

I met a star producer called Dilraju, who loved the subject but wasn’t sure about the film’s box office pull. Unless a star got involved to play the mentor and a Bombay based distribution tie-up. I was like a grazing goat looking to chew on Akshay Kumar’s Bollywood grass but intermediaries in between kept us out.

We then applied for NFDC co-production market. We were certain that it would be picked but when it didn’t make the cut, we were crestfallen. I never felt such a rage in my life.

Flight To Delhi

Given the story’s close relevance to Government’s much well-intentioned and praised ‘Beti Padhao Beti Bachao’ mission, a source in Hyderabad told us to chase Prakash Javdekar (I & B minister), who could route the film through CFSI. It sounded quite like a plan. We landed in Delhi.

Our  source mysteriously disappeared just as we were about to reach Shashtri Bhawan. Air tickets + Hotel expenses – everything went for a toss. Later, when the minister came to know about our plight, he apologized and called us to Pune.

The Bus To Pune

Few hours after he accepted our file, we learnt that he had been transferred to the Forest ministry. An expensive handmade poster which I designed and got made to impress the Hon. Minister is still lying in my study! The title of the film in that poster was ‘’Power Girl Poorna’’!

The Final Push

One year passed as we kept doing breakdowns, storyboards, posters, drafts and more drafts of the script. But still we had no producer.

Actor Sonu Sood loved the script immensely but offered me another film he was about to produce.

So despite our best intentions, we were back to square one. Then my brother Nishant introduced me to actor Rahul Bose who decided to come on board as a producer. Rahul set up meetings. I narrated the script to Amit Patni who later funded the film. I passed the producers baton to them happily and made the Telangana Government meet the production for work to begin.

I very much feel this film is my baby as a writer and co-director, and I feel very proud of the mark it’s making. “Poorna” represents the aspirations of millions of children in rural India, and the power they possess to realise these aspirations. As the dialogue goes in the film- “Joote nahi hai toh kya hua, pair toh hai.

Prashant Pandey

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NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab, a 2-part workshop is designed to prepare screenwriters’ with original Indian stories for working with the international filmmaking market place. It aims at improving a completed screenplay in its final stages and to increase the international marketability of the same.

ELIGIBILITY
  • Open only for Indian citizens residing in India
  • Open only for feature length fiction films
HOW TO APPLY
  • Create a MyFilmBazaar Account.
  • Use this ID to access the online application form.
  • The Regular Deadline for applications is 3 March 2017 (6 pm IST).
  • The Extended Deadline for applications is 13 March 2017 (6 pm IST).
  • Applications will not be considered complete till the payment has been processed.
  • Email/hardcopy applications will not be accepted.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS
Before you begin, please make sure you have the following:

  • Logline
  • Short Synopsis (500 – 600 words)
  • Writer’s Statement (500 words)
  • Updated Bio

In addition, you have the option of submitting either

  • Full Screenplay

OR

  • Story Synopsis (6 -10 pages | 12 point font, single spaced, 1” margin)
  • First 20 pages of the Screenplay ( in industry accepted format)

Shortlisted applicants will be called for an interview, either in person or on Skype (in the month of April)

DATES FOR THE LAB
  • Session 1 – end of May 2017
  • Session 2 – 6 weeks after Session 1 concludes
  • Session 3 – 8 weeks after Session 2 concludes
  • 20 – 24 Nov, 2017 – Film Bazaar
FEE
  • INR 3000 for applications submitted on or before the Regular Deadline, 3 March 2017 (6 PM IST).
  • INR 5000 for applications submitted after the Regular Deadline from 4 March to 13 March 2017 (6 PM IST).
CONTACT
  • For further clarifications, write to screenwriters-lab@filmbazaarindia.com.
  • For more details, and to apply, click here.

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The 4th Indian Screenwriters Conference

SO NEAR, SO FAR: DO OUR STORIES REFLECT INDIA’S REALITY?

The Film Writers Association is back with its biggest, most prestigious and popular event for Indian Screenwriters.

Date : August 3-4, 2016
Venue : St. Andrews Auditorium, Bandra West
To register :  Click here

A quick summary of sessions

1. THE FEMININE FACTOR
Are female actors getting better roles now? Is our audience comfortable only with stereotypical women characters? Are we ready to have a more realistic gender equation on screen?

2. SERIAL KILLERS
Does our current TV content reflect our times and society? Why are we stuck in some unchangeable grooves? What is the way out?

3. WRITERS & PRODUCERS: PARTNERS OR ADVERSARIES?
Writers feel they are undervalued while producers complain of lack of quality scripts. How can this relationship be made more collaborative, more mutual, and more productive for both?

4. LITTLE BIG FILMS
Small films, driven by strong scripts and the passion of the filmmakers, are increasingly ending up as surprise successes. What is the scope and future of such efforts?

5. DECODING THE DIGITAL
The exodus of producers & studios is moving towards the web. What is the business of web entertainment like? Is the Internet answer to our creative and economic issues?

6. THE BUSINESS OF TV WRITING
The leverage of the TV writer is growing; it appears, with him/her turning into a producer. Is this the model for all TV writers to move towards?

– Reputed journalist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee, P. Sainath will deliver the keynote address, while the renowned poet Ashok Vajpeyi will be the Chief-Guest.

– Confirmations are streaming in from the invited speakers, panelists and special guests, including Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Siddharth Roy-Kapur, Ronnie Screwvala, Gaurav Banerjee (Star), Anooj Kapoor (SAB TV), Ritesh Sidhwani, Jaideep Sahni, Sriram Raghavan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Danish Khan (Sony), Ravina Kohli (Epic), Juhi Chaturvedi, Rajat Kapoor, Hansal Mehta, Jayesh Patil, Aatish Kapadia, Purnendu Shekhar, Shridhar Raghavan, Nagraj Manjule, Neeraj Ghaywan, Sonali Jaffer, Shashi Mittal, Varun Grover, Himanshu Sharma, Sudip Sharma, Saurabh Tiwari, Biswapati Sarkar and many more writers, writer-directors, and producers.

– On August 3, Dastangoi performance from 6:30 – 8:00 PM

– Click here, here and here to read some of our previous coverage of the conference.

 

screenwriting-215x300Brave writing seems to be moving center-stage in the Indian film industry. Year after year, an increasing number of vibrant scripts, which reflect the writer’s vision and conviction, are finding their way to the big screen. Every well-written script increases the industry’s confidence in screenwriting.

Here’s a chance to learn from those who are blazing a trail – repeatedly!

In lively interactive master classes, they will share their creative and professional struggles, explain their style and approach to writing, and offer a wealth of tips for new writers. The Workshop Instructor, through extensive sessions, will cover all the essential principles of screenwriting, Indian mythology, copyright law, writers’ contracts, and professional guidance.

WORKSHOP INSTRUCTOR:  Anjum Rajabali (Drohkaal, Ghulam, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Raajneeti): Head of screenwriting at Whistling Woods Mumbai, and an activist of FWA. Conducts workshops, script labs and fellowships for screenwriters in India and abroad.

SPEAKERS

Jaideep Sahni (Chak De India), Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur) Juhi Chaturvedi (Piku, Vicky Donor), Himanshu Sharma (Tanu Weds Manu 1&2), Shridhar Raghavan (Dum Maro Dum), Varun Grover (Masaan), Sudip Sharma (NH-10),                   Navdeep Singh (Director: NH-10), Saiwyn Quadros (Neerja, Mary Kom), and Sanyuktha Chawla-Shaikh (Neerja)

DATE : 30th March to 3rd April, 2016 (5 days)

VENUE : Whistling Woods International, Mumbai

FEE:

For FWA members: Rs. 7500/- (Inclusive of taxes, tea/coffee and lunch on all days)
For non-FWA members: Rs. 10000/- (Inclusive of taxes, tea/coffee and lunch on all days)
*If you wish to become an FWA member, please visit www.fwa.co.in

DETAILS/REGISTER – For more information and to register for the workshop, please call 30916003 or email: kanchi.parikh@whistlingwoods.net

screenwriting-215x300National Film Development Corporation, India announced its selection of six projects for the Screenwriters’ Lab 2015, from submission of about 280 applications.

Previously hosted in Toronto, Locarno and Venice film festivals, Screenwriters’ Lab is going to be held in collaboration with the Sarajevo Film Festival this year.

Selected projects will travel to Sarajevo in August for the first part of the lab and then to Goa in November for the second, before being presented at Film Bazaar, the annual international film market, held alongside the International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

The selection this year includes projects spanning across varied stories, styles and genres.

Scripts

Bombay Rose – Gitanjali Rao

City of Light – Shubhashish Bhutiani

Dastaan-E-Awaargi – Ankit Kothari

Mango’s Tale – Sidharth Gupt

The Return – Asad Hussain

The Sun Goes Round the Earth – Arijit Biswas

Writers

Gitanjali Rao is an animator and filmmaker whose latest project, True Love Story, premiered at Cannes Critics’ Week, 2014 in competition. Her other animation short, Printed Rainbow, received several awards including the Kodak Short Film Award, and the Young Critics Award at Cannes Critics’ Week, 2006.

Shubhashish Bhutiani forayed into filmmaking with his short film Kush which won the Orizzonti Prize for Best Short Film at Venice International Film Festival. He has previously worked as an assistant director in commercials and feature films.

Ankit Kothari is an emerging writer who graduated with a BFA in Applied Arts from MSU, Baroda. Kothari worked as an art director in the advertising industry before venturing into filmmaking.

Sidharth Gupt is a filmmaker who wrote and directed one of the segments in Shorts, a compilation of five short films, produced by Anurag Kashyap. As an assistant director, Gupt has worked in Dasvidaniya, Gangs of Wasseypur and Khoobsurat.

Asad Hussain’s journey as a screenplay writer led him to co-write Children of War, a film based on the war for Bangladesh’s liberation. He has written the additional screenplay for Bajrangi Bhaijan. Apart from these, Hussain has also worked for educational content in Afghanistan.

Arijit Biswas is the co-writer of Agent Vinod and Badlapur. He has also written extensively for Hindi and Bengali television.

screenwriting-215x300This is for all those who keep complaining that it’s difficult being a writer in Bollywood, especially if you are a new one looking for a break. Trinity Pictures (under Eros International) is looking for full time writers. So here it goes.

Here’s screenwriter and mentor Shridhar Raghavan’s post on the same. He will be mentoring the writers for the same.

WHAT : Trinity Pictures headed by Ajit Thakur, the newly setup motion pictures division of Eros International, focusing primarily on Franchises, is looking to recruit full time writers for the Trinity Writers Room. The idea is to develop concepts, stories and scripts.

HOW : To apply you have to write a brief review of any two out of these three films – Badlapur, Ranjhanaa, Happy Ending.

Additionally, write a scene that you think could fit into any of the above films keeping in mind the spirit of he original. For example, say in Badlapur, you could think of an additional scene between Varun and Nawaz or between Varun and his wife or anything else – even a different ending. Imagine a scene that couldn’t make it to the film and was left out at the edit.

This is to clarify to those calling in and writing in who were confused.

LOCATION : It’s not restricted to Mumbai. Anyone from anywhere in the country can apply.

CONTACT : You can address queries and send submissions to Jahnabi.gogoi@erosintl.com.

DEADLINE : Friday, 12th June, 2015. But if it extends a day or two, no stress. The idea is to access as many writers as possible.

Cheers and happy writing.

WWI-FWA Workshop 2015

WHAT : 5-Day Screenwriting Workshop

by Anjum Rajabali

and

Vishal Bhardwaj (Haider) , Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur), Jaideep Sahni (Chak De India), Juhi Chaturvedi (Vicky Donor), Ritesh Batra (Lunch Box), Vikramaditya Motwane (Udaan, Producer: Queen), Shridhar Raghavan (Dum Maro Dum), Akshat Verma (Delhi Belly), Sharat Kataria (Dum Laga Ke Haisha), Anand Gandhi (Ship of Theseus), Navdeep Singh (Director: NH-10), Sudip Sharma (NH-10)

WHEN : April 29 – May 3, 2015

WHERE  : At Whistling Woods, Film city, Goregaon (East), Mumbai – 65

Presented by Whistling Woods
(in association with FWA & Living Bridge Pune)

WORKSHOP : The last few years have marked the beginning of an exciting era for Indian screenwriters! More films are breaking the conventional mold, based on bold scripts. Badlapur, Udaan, Haider, Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha, Queen, The Lunch Box, Vicky Donor, Ship of Theseus, Delhi Belly, Chak de India, NH-10.. the list goes on. What’s more, the audience is welcoming these with pleasure.

Gradually but steadily, the scriptwriter seems to be moving centre-stage!

This workshop will not only cover all the basics of the screenwriting craft, encouraging you to develop competence as a screenwriter, but also expose you to how these stalwarts let their imagination fly with conviction. So, here’s your best chance to learn, via rich interactive sessions with writers who are redefining Indian screenwriting today!

WORKSHOP INSTRUCTOR: Anjum Rajabali (Drohkaal, Ghulam, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Raajneeti): Heads the screenwriting departments at Whistling Woods Mumbai and FTII Pune, and is an activist with FWA. Conducts screenwriting workshops, and script labs and fellowships for screenwriters.

FEE: For FWA members: Rs. 7500/- (Inclusive of taxes, tea/coffee, lunch)
For non-FWA members: Rs. 10000/- (Inclusive of taxes, tea/coffee, lunch)
*If you wish to become an FWA member, please visit www.fwa.co.in

REGISTER : To register for the workshop, please call 30916003 or email: kanchi.parikh@whistlingwoods.net