Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

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

You want to be a screenwriter, but you don’t know where to start.

Bombay is expensive. Is it worth going?

And on top of that, you don’t even know anyone. Even if you are in bombay, you don’t know whom to call for writing work.

These are just some of the basic questions that we all have grappled with at some point or other. There are no straight answers. Everyone finds a way.

But one thing is for sure now – it was never this easy if you have heard about AIB’s First Draft Programme. I wish there was something like this when we were starting out. It looked too good to be true – there is no fee, they take care of all the tuition expenses, and they even take care of your stay in Bombay. I have always felt that Bombay kids have an advantage. Not for anything else, but just for the rent. It’s fucking expensive! Whatever you earn, it goes in rent.

So when they started last year, it made me quite curious. Let’s see how it pans out. Been part of few script labs, i have experienced that nobody gets you till the last mile. Writing, feedback, learning, polishing – all that is good. BUT ARE YOU GETTING HIRED FOR WRITING?

Last i checked, out of the 10 writers that AIB selected, 7 of them are already writing commissioned work (film/web) for AIB which is in various stages of production. This is great. This is what all writers want.

So this year, we got one of the selected participant, Pulkit Arora to write about the whole experience.

Read. And Apply. Or Apply first, then come back and read. Last date for registration is Dec 5th, 2017. Click here for more details.

Falling In Love With Cinema / How I Learnt To Stop Worrying And Love The Screen

Last month, I went to my first film festival. As I swiftly discovered, festivals are exercises in cinema gluttony, with people catching as many as five films a day and ruing the absence of a sixth. But I felt oddly at home in queue for my next course.

18 months ago, this wasn’t the case. I’d maybe watch a film if the ticket price was less than Rs 2o0 and the run-time was under 100 minutes – that’d be about a film a month.

Most people around me at the festival had fallen in love with the movies when they were children. Stories told to you on a 50-ft screen as you chewed popcorn and slurped coke – what’s not to like? The leap from loving cinema to making cinema is substantial, but natural.

But as a vocal detractor of sitting still for more than 4 minutes, I had missed that honeymoon. I don’t think I even made it to the altar.

No one in my family had worked in art since a distant alcoholic uncle in the 80s ran production on a film with Asrani in the romantic lead. The casting choice was only slightly worse than the film itself; to this day at the dinner table, the conclusion is folks in arts are lazy drunks who didn’t score well in Science section.

On pure whim on an especially boring weekend, I stumbled onto a course called AIB First Draft, with no information on what writing for films entails. A whole Saturday off, and only a few tasks in the application – why not?

That application was a revelation. Playing around with characters can be pure fun, as if someone had given you a playground with a sandbox as big as human experience itself. The tasks took a lot longer than just that Saturday, but I did not resent it for a moment.

Upon what I continue to maintain was a miraculous selection, I sort of packed my bags and showed up expecting decent shelter and knowledge. I was fortunate to receive both.

While the course focused on writing stories for film, it throws you into a whirlwind romance with the medium of film itself.

Every day of every week was spent reading screenplays, watching cinema & writing. A lot of writing. I used my imagination more in six months than I had in every semester in college combined, especially with nine other people to imagine with.

But the biggest value of the First Draft framework was the predictability it brings – by Monday, we’d know the scheduled writing/reading/watching ratios of each day until Friday. Freed from the usual constraints of rent payments and deadlines, the only task was to learn.

But once the course spat me out of its comforts and straight into writing a high-stakes project, I found myself dwelling more and more in this sudden appreciation for an art form. I used to be a utility-and-function guy who scoffed at anyone “not contributing to making our world better” in the ways that I defined it; now I spent my days figuring out conflicts and emotional graphs for imaginary people. I was on my own little second act, figuring out how to reconcile this new job with my values.

But now that there was infatuation, I sailed into indulgence, consuming a film a day and a screenplay every week. Every film pored over, every screenplay marked with notes. All the “do what you love” posts that I cringed at all these years ended up coming true.

Somewhere in this process, I found something that I had lacked my entire life – an understanding of the value of creating cinema, and creating art itself. We throng to theaters to feel something our lives do not provide us, and that catharsis is more important than any of our institutions teach it to be. “Story is equipment for living” is how Kenneth Burke put it, and I have stumbled upon the honor to manufacture equipment. (That analogy has worked spectacularly with the family.)

A year in, cinema and I are doing quite well together. I think about it in the day and spend time with it in my evenings. I think in frames and scenes, I see people as characters. I have a feeling this may be more than just a fling.

Pulkit Arora

(Pulkit used to run a non-profit in Delhi before First Draft. He had no experience in fiction writing before he applied for the course. He is currently writing a feature film for AIB with a course-mate from the programme)

We also asked Pulkit to give us details about stay/course/schedule. More here –

– Our accommodation was spread over three houses in Versova. One of those houses was the venue for all the lectures and screenings. We would converge there for all the group work and then split up into our own houses for writing individually.

– The curriculum was a mish-mash of several screenwriting books, guest lectures as well as Satyanshu’s personal lessons. Everything was up for discussion – we would discuss exceptions as much as the rules.

– Every Monday, we would get a schedule that lays out the week for us. It would include watching films, plays and music, reading screenplays and writing our own draft. It made life super simple, because I now knew what I’m doing five days in advance.

– As for food, AIB paid for a cook that would make three meals for all of us. We would pay for the ingredients, but that was about it)

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.