Posts Tagged ‘Jaideep Sahni’

Jaideep SahniFWA (Film Writers Association) members are cordially invited to a masterclass with the popular screenwriter-lyricist Jaideep Sahni, in which he will talk about the why (the socio-political concerns which motivated him) and the how (the art and craft of writing, the practicalities of getting people on board, creative collaboration) of the films he has written. Jaideep will be in conversation with Rajashree.

We would suggest that the people who want to attend the masterclass revisit the films written by Jaideep Sahni – their understanding of the points which Jaideep makes about his films would be much sharper if they have watched these films recently.

Jaideep Sahni is an eminent screenwriter, songwriter and creative producer. He has written thought-provoking popular entertainers like Chak De! India, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Company, Bunty Aur Babli, Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year and Shuddh Desi Romance. He won the Filmfare Awards for Best Dialogue and Best Story for Company, followed by the Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay for Khosla Ka Ghosla. He also won the IIFA award for Best Story for Chak De! India.

Rajashree, who will be moderating the event, studied at FTII before assisting Mansoor Khan and Sanjay Bhansali. She has written and directed a film called The Rebel which won a National Award. Her debut novel, Trust Me, is the biggest-selling Indian chick lit book. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Film Writers’ Association and the convenor of the Events Committee.

Entry Fees : Free. 

The admission is restricted to FWA Members. First-Come-First-Seated.

Time: 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Day/Date: Saturday, 31st January, 2015

Venue: Film Writers’ Association Office
2nd Floor, Richa Building,
Plot no B – 29,
(In the lane opposite Citi Mall),
Off New Link Road,
Andheri (West),
Mumbai – 400 053.
Phone: 022-2673-3027/ 022-2673-3108

The Workshop:

IIT Madras is presenting Imaging Cinema 2014, a Screenwriting-cum-Filmmaking Workshop from 7-14 June. The focus is on various aspects of screenwriting. Experienced resource persons will conduct Sessions on screenwriting. Special sessions on aspects of direction and screenwriting will be conducted by established names from Mumbai and South Indian cine industries (including directors, screenwriters, and actors). The course outline will soon be available on the website.

Speakers :

  • Jaideep Sahni (screenwriter of Company, Chak de India, Shuddh Desi Romance)
  • Ram (director of National Award winning Thanga Meengal
  • Shridhar Raghavan (screenwriter of Khakee, Bluffmaster, Dum Maaro Dum, forthcoming film starring Ajith with Gautham Menon as director)
  • Vikramaditya Motwane (director, Udaan, Lootera)
  • Rana Daggubati

Registration:

Those interested in participating can fill in the completed application form available here or here.

Workshop Dates : 7-14th June

Last Date of applying is 11 May 2014.

Accommodation on campus is available for outstation candidates only on a first come first serve basis.

Course fee:

· Rs 7000/ for all participants
· Rs 6000/ for former participants (those who attended our previous events) and students, who are still pursuing their degree;
· Rs 8000/ for NRIs & Foreign Nationals.

– At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to produce a screenplay under the guidance of the mentors. They will be awarded with an IIT Madras certificate of participation.

– The workshop will be held on IITM Campus and is organized by Dr Aysha Iqbal Viswamohan, Associate Professor, Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Madras.

– To view some of the short films made by participants in 2012, click here or here.

About IITM Film Workshops:

IIT Madras has become a well-known centre for highly popular film workshops. In May 2009 the institute hosted the Chennai International Screenwriting Workshop which was organized under the auspices of Padma Bhushan Dr Kamal Haasan’s Rajkamal Studio. This 5 day Workshop included sessions by Shri K Balachander, Shekhar Kapoor, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Sriram Raghavan, Atul Tiwari, and Anjum Rajabali.

This was followed by a spate of successful events including a 6 day screenwriting cum conclave on filmmaking in 2010 , which had Dibakar Banerjee, K Balachander, RBalki, Santosh Sivan, PC Sreeram, Jaideep Sahni, Shimit Amin, Nagesh Kukunoor, Saurabh Shukla, editor Sreekar Prasad, and Tamil film directors Vishnuvardhan and CS Amudhan.

In 2012, a 10 day filmmaking workshop was organized where faculty members from FTII, Pune and LV Prasad Institute, Chennai conducted sessions on various aspects of filmmaking such as screenwriting, direction, cinematography, editing, sound and set designing. Participants produced a 3- 5 minute feature at the end of the workshop. Speakers included Rohan Sippy, Anurag Kashyap, Sriram & Sridhar Raghavan, Habib Faisel, Ravi K Chandran, Tamil directors Vetrimaaran and Kumarrajan Thiagarajan and writers Subha and Bala.

– Why attend the Workshop?

The uniqueness of these workshops lie in their outreach where candidates from a cross section of society interact with established names from the Indian film industry. Many of our previous attendees have gone on to make a mark for them in film and media industry, and are currently in the process of making and screenwriting for films or assisting filmmakers of repute.

(via press release)

If you missed our earlier post in this 2013 flashback series, here’s the list – 20 Things We Learnt At The Movies and 13 Unanswered Questions is here, Top 10 Musical Gems We Discovered This Year is here, and 15 Film Fanatics on 17 Terrific Films That Have Stayed With Them is here.

In this post, Rohwit looks back at some of the best bollywood tracks that we looped this year.

Amidst the 100 crore musical disasters, few albums and some songs tried to stand tall, and that wasn’t tough even for a slightly above average song because thanks to the automatic tunes that come pre-fed in some expensive keyboards owned by some music composers, the ‘average’ bar is pretty low in Hindi films these days.

Here is our pick of 14 songs (ok 16! ok 17!) that made us sit up and sway! The order below is not in a ranking form. Some of the points contain 2 songs. So what? We cannot make up our mind. Yes, we get confused. Music does that to us.

 

1. Yes, it is based on a Beethoven symphony. Yes, it has a very ‘अरे ये पहले सुना है’ feel. Still, I haven’t heard a spookier lullaby in 2013. So take a bow Kumaar for penning this superb song and take a bow Sangeet Haldipur for singing it beautifully! Yes, it is one of the best songs I have heard this year. We are indeed referring to Aaja nindiya raina beeti jaaye rey from Aatma.

 

2. Khamakha hee-Badal Uthiya (Prem Dehati version) – from Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola. It took a local Harvanyvi singer (who hasn’t appeared on the again after this album by the way) Prem Dehati to mesmerize us with raw talent and touching melody. Not many songs have the longevity to survive in playlists these days but this song will be there for a long time.

In fact it was Prem Dehati’s splendid participation in Khamakha that lifted the already superb song to a level very few could match this year.

 

3. Manjha (Kai Po Che!) – Every Time A.R. Rahman’s music is about to hit the scene, there is so much anticipation and Amit Trivedi enjoys the same effect on music lovers at large. So it wasn’t a surprise when this splashed all across and we were treated to this song.

Swanand Kirkire has penned one of the best songs this year in Manjha. Simple lyrics, exquisite arrangement and we cannot get tired of Amit Trivedi’s studio singing. The other two songs were no less but somehow Manjha shall always be played before the other two.

 

4. Tum hi ho (Arijit Singh) – So it turns out that Arijit singh is turning everything into gold just by singing it! Easily a much better film to look at than it’s first part, Aashiqui 2 had this mother of a song that was overplayed to the extent of irritation. But can you dismiss it as being one of the stickiest song of 2013? No! Why is it featured on the list? Ask yourself if you don’t like humming it. We know some of you are humming it right now.

 

5. Khoon choos ley (Go Goa Gone) – There is a lot of Monday hatred (or so it seems on all social media platforms), so a Monday song was long overdue. The song in my view was wasted in the film Go Goa Gone and even the half-hearted music video wasn’t promoted well. Still, this has to be one of the best ‘I hate to wake up and go to work’ song we have heard in Hindi films. The nasal start, the ‘rrrrrrrrrrr rrrrrrrrrrrrrr’ part and splendid lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya makes this one a treat!

 

6. Badtameez Dil (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani) – More than anything, we cannot get over the fact that Amitabh Bhattacharya used ‘dhimka falana’, ‘paan mein pudina’ and ‘moorhi bhaat’ so effortlessly! While the song belonged to RK on the screen (deservingly so), Benny Dayal is no less a rockstar to sing this with so much zest that even people with two left feet were seeing dancing at the mere mention of this song. Kudos to the brass band and Pritam for this one!

7. Raanjhnaa hua main Tum Tak (Raanjhanaa) – Yes. While many of us (including yours truly) started out disliking the million ‘tum taks’ in the song, the second half of the song, the shehnai (and the excellent use of manjeera) redeems this  song and how!

Be it the faint guitar riffs or excellent Jasvinder Singh (who made a guest appearance in the song), the title song of raanjhanaa had all going for it. More so, the emperor ARR was at his yearly best in this album as a whole.

 

8. Ghanchakkar babu (Ghanchakkar) – Amit Trivedi was heard having a ball in this one. While the album was not bad at all, this song stood out (and was on the loop for a long time) thanks to excellent arrangement and superb back up vocals. Trust Amitabh Bhattacharya to give an insightful touch to ‘Nala Sopara’! Top class song! Muuuuuuuuuuwaaaaaaah!

 

9. Monta Re (Lootera) –  The ‘chik chiki chik’ whispers by Swanand Kirkire, the quiet atmosphere, exquisite lyrics and a delicate presentation. This is easily the best song of the album that sounded more like Udaan part 2 than anything. We mean it in a good way. No. Really.

 

10. Mera Yaar – From the fantastic album Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Javed Bashir was given a song that was right up to his comfort zone and he hit it out of the park. We loved the entire album (without the ‘andar kaala bahar kaala PAR sachcha hai sala’ part) and were relieved that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are back to making good music, just like the good old days.

11. D-Day – A fantastic album overall. Be it the definitive Qawwali ‘Murshid khele holi’ or the heart breaking ‘Alvida’,  the album even made Mika tolerable when he attempted Dama dam mast kalandar. (Rekha Ji, सुन रही हैं ना आप?)

 

12. Shudh Desi Romance – Be it those tiny musical bits with Rajasthani sound or those lovely songs, Jaideep Sahni and Sachin Jigar served us a musical treat with  an adorable marriage of contemporary words and folksy-dinchik arrangement. Our pick from the album will remain ‘Tere mere beech mein kya hai’

 

13. Ram Leela – Though the album was filled with grand arrangement and excessive noise throughout, we really liked the adaptation of ‘Mor bani thangat karey’ and Lal Ishq (without the excessive noise towards the end).

 

14. Dil ki toh lag gayee (Nautanki Sala) – As an album, it had a distinct ‘townie’ sound to it (much like Bluffmaster). However, what blew the socks off the senses is Saba Azad’s super hot singing in ‘Dil ki toh lag gayee’. Ignore the horrible presentation of the song on screen though. A fantastic effort, insanely melodious at all times and very very saxxxay! Sing more Saba, we are listening!

We also enjoyed :

– Early morning (Chashme Baddoor) A lot of us debate where is Sonu Nigam and why isn’t he singing more. While we do not have anything to add to that, but we loved the way Mr. Nigam was having fun singing this wonderful song from a not so wonderful remake of a classic.

– ‘SPB ho ho!’ part from the title song of Chennai Express. There are very few occasions that compare to SP Balasubrahmanyam having fun in a song.

Ajnabi (Madras Cafe) The songs were wasted in an otherwise brilliant film but the whispering voice of Zeb left it’s mark. It’s a pity that this song went unnoticed.

 

Very Very Special Mention :

Padmanabh Gaikwad for singing Sapne rey sapna (from Ek Thi Daayan) . A fantastic voice that resonates innocence. We are way too tired of Gulzar saab doing splendid job every time he sits down to pen a song, so we won’t even stress the fact that we are in love with the ‘Bhoore bhoore baadalon ke bhaalu, Loriyaan sunaaye la ra ra ru’ part of the song. Hope to hear more from Padmanabh.

So which songs you looped this year? Let us know in the comments.

shuddh-desi-romance copy2

Since we have become a generation of Buzzfeed and because “listicles” are still not dead, am going to pick the easy route. Here are the top 10 reasons why i loved Shuddh Desi Romance and why you shouldn’t miss it.

1. Jaideep Sahni – I was wondering if he will deliver or not. This is a virgin territory for him – a full throttle romantic film. And more suspicious because he was talking like my another favourite screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman. Love versus love portrayed in films, expectations versus reality and all that jazz. Well, he not only delivers but pushes the envelope and sends it out of the park. Terrific lines all over, all that which seems so natural that it’s difficult to believe someone actually wrote it. And especially at a time when everyone is taking this dialogue route, at least in mainstream hindi cinema space.

2. Morality is Dead – A friend got a sms from a veteran journalist – SDR’s morality is falling faster and lower than the rupee. Not surprising. This film might be shocking for the conventional theatre going crowd and especially when it’s not set in any Tier-1 city. Aha, what fun, to piss of those old holy cows.

3. Marriage is Dead – Commitment is fine. But why do we need the shackles to remind us that we are “committed”. Ironically, this one comes from the same production house which is in shaadi-binness. U-Turn? Hell yeah! Mommy, are you listening?

4. Parineeti Chopra – Mommy, if you still insist, can you try her. I have been skeptical about her main-chulbuli-always-smiling-full-on-enthu avatar in the last two films of her. Are they going to typecast her? But three films down and i think we can easily brand her as “show stealer”. Put her in any film, she is bound to walk away with all the glory while making it look oh so easy. Girl, you are going far.

5. No Melodrama – It’s never been our strength. To keep it minimum, to keep it subtle and yet pack a punch. Now, just see what all can a “thanda” do in situations where there is huge scope for such drama. Am not going to explain the scenes here to kill the fun. But i wanted to get up and applaud in the first “thanda lao” scene. I don’t remember when was the last time someone played it so smoothly in such a loaded scenario.

6. So much silence – Again, another rarity in mainstream bollywood. What do you write on those blank pages where your characters look into each other and say nothing and give those strange expressions that is difficult to define. It comes only with those weird situations that you get into. SDR is full of those and director Maneesh Sharma knows how to capture them.

7. No dil-jigar-dard-tukda song – what a relief. Dil hi toh hai saala, tutne do. Devads is over and out. To quote Sahni from another favourite, Rocket Singh, bikhre nahi toh kaise nikhrogey, uljhe nahi toh kaise suljhogey.

8. Climax – 2 couples and 4 characters – what a masterstroke. The way 4 characters are stuck at the same crossroads and the dialogues were criss-crossing, it reminded me of my favourite scene in That Girl In Yellow Boots – two telephonic conversations going on at the same time. Also, the climax doesn’t try to follow the conventional route. It sticks to its core idea that its prescribing from the beginning.

9. The “repetitive” tool – I read some comments saying that lot of it is “repetitive”, especially the dialogues. I thought that was brilliant writing – to use the same stuff with different characters. You know the lines, the character doesn’t. It happens more than once and the funniest is when Sushant and Parineeti try to find out about each other from Rishi Kapoor.

10. Pigeons, Monkeys and Milieu – As the film started, i kept on smiling as it played the montage filled with these various creatures. It’s been a while since our kabootar did ja ja for Mister Saajan. They are not just props, they slowly construct that rare thing which is difficult to achieve – milieu. And being aware of the world around you always helps.

All hail Jaideep Sahni! At a time when the market is flooded with fucking remakes and sequels with the sole intention of making money, here’s the one with the original voice and daring content.

Chanchal mann, ati random
De gayo dhoka sambhal gayo re
Phisal gayo re…

– Posted by @CilemaSnob

Jaideep Sahni is one of my favourite screenwriters. And most probably, the best among the current lot. He has dabbled in various genres – from underworld saga (Company) to sports film (Chak De India), dramedy (Khosla Ka Ghosla) to rom-con (if i can say so, Bunty Aur Babli), and has delivered terrific results. His last film Rocket Singh – Salesman Of The Year didn’t work at box office but i liked it. Similarly, with Aaja Nachale, there was no critical acclaim neither box office but there were many bits in the film which were noteworthy. Also, when you go into the theatre to watch a Shah Rukh Khan film but come out remembering the names of about a dozen other characters played by completely new actors, you know that the writing is great. And that’s a rare achievement in India cinema.

Strangely, Sahni has never written a romantic film so far, as in dealing with just matters of heart. And that’s one of the reasons i am quite kicked about Shuddh Desi Romance.  The first three teasers of the film (here, here and here) completely stood out from the rest of the crowd. And i have been told that Sahni is the brain behind those three. Two teasers dipped in nostalgia of ek chidiya and last one with the customer care headache that has become part of our everyday life now. And today the theatrical trailer has come out. If you haven’t seen yet, have a look.

So what’s the film about?

Here’s what the cryptic official synopsis says…

Shuddh Desi RomanceDoes what starts physical always turn into love? And what reaches love, always turn into commitment? How do you figure out?

From the director of Band Baaja Baaraat and the writer of Chak De! India, comes a fresh and very real love story about the hair raising minefield between love, attraction and commitment SHUDDH DESI ROMANCE finally, a romantic comedy that tells it like it is.

Starring in this classy, candid look at the affairs of the heart in today’s desi heartland are the endearing Rishi Kapoor, exceptionally talented Sushant Singh Rajput, and the versatile Parineeti Chopra, along with debutant Vaani Kapoor.

Well, i can see the “shudd” part, the “desi” part but not sure about the “romance”. What’s new? What’s not been done? What will Sahni deliver? As the trailer doesn’t say much about the plot except the usual mood and feel of the characters and the place which was quite clear from the teasers also. Or is it Saathiya in small town with a new girl in the loop?

So what’s your take? What are you expecting? Do let us know in the comment section.

– Posted by @cilemsnob

If you are attending the ongoing FWA Indian Screenwriters Conference, then great. If not, our good ol’ mister Screeny (if you are regular follower of the blog, you know) is back with all the details and dope.

screenwriting-215x300Inspired from Dear Kamal Swaroop, I’ve decided to smoke a joint/have a nip/acid before attending anything related to cinema academics. It turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience as I learnt to appreciate some of the usual sarkari fuckups (lunch came in ‘installments’ due to improper communication and people were waiting in queues for nearly 2 hours) that plague any event of such sort which involves ‘artists’, especially screenwriters! Also some sentences may appear incoherent/incompletely bridged together. This is just meant to be snippets of the lectures.
And a humble request to all those who attend screenwriting seminars – Please have some sharm-o-haya before asking chutiyape ke sawaal to the panelists  Not only do you insult their intelligence but also of your screenwriter brethren! Listening to some of the audience questions in the Q&A sessions makes you realise why we make such fuckall films. Agar ek 20 minute ke lecture ke baad ek audience member screenwriter khud irrelevant, inarticulate, tangent pe jaane wale, haggu sawaal poochega, toh 120 pannon mein kitna Diarrhoea failayega ?

WELCOME ADDRESS

Day 1 began 30 min late.

Anjum Rajabali spoke about the recently passed Copyright Amendment Act briefly. How for first time FWA is interacting with WGA. The career of a writer doesn’t begin when he gets the contract, but when he begins to write.
The annual turnover of Indian Cinema is 2.1 Billion USD whereas the mere pension fund of the WGA is 2.2 Billion USD !!! They can buy out the entire Indian Film Industry if they wish with just their pension plan.

Rajesh Dubey (writer of Balika Vadhu & many TV serials) – Achchi baat yeh hai ki aaj ke seminar mein koi saas nahi hai. Toh bina rok tok discussion chal sakti hai. Jitney TV ke writers hain unmey se shayad 30% logon ne hi kabhi kitchen mein kadam rakhkha ho, par phir bhi kitchen politics ke baare mein likhte hain, kaunsi bahu ne kheer mein cheeni ki jagah namak milaya – uss baare mein likhtey hain. Maine aaj tak ek murder nahi kiya lekin mere likhe huey serials ke murder techniques koi criminal dekhega toh yakeenan khud chaunk jaayega.
Television hindustan ke 2/3 gharon mein chalta hai. Bahut prabhaavshaali maadhyam hai par uski zimmedaariyon ke baare mein behes kabhi nahi hoti. Hoti hai toh sirf Talk shows aur debates mein. Kya samaaj ki unnati se TV Writers ka koi sarokaar hai ya nahi ?

Vinay Shukla – like always made a dead boring speech about history of responsibility of cinema. He also added ‘Hang out in there and fight everything you believe in’ in his soporific voice with which he had directed Koi Mere Dil Se Poochey & Mirch (No! Godmother & the cameo in Maqbool was a different Vinay Shukla).

Javed Akhtar (As always the old man has lot of wit and fire underneath his kurta)
Market demands Vs what we see around us. How commercial compulsions are to be made compatible with our basic instincts as a writer. Is the Indian mainstream media completely far removed from reality? (He spoke about the same old pattern of villains over the decades – moneylender-underworld don-capitalistic or a mill owner – politician – to eventually becoming a hero as a vigilante). Now we’ve even gotten bored of Pakistan as the villain. Whatever is villain-ish has become part of our society’s morality. So how do we make villains anymore ?Reg. Social Responsibility – We were unaware of it when we were writing our scripts. We had no idea our scripts had any social responsibility or political reference. We were simply writing.

Alam Ara the first sound film had nearly 50 songs. Now people are trying to change the structure. Sadly, now the only thing that is keeping the music culture alive in films is the ringtone business. Earlier we used to fall in the trap of melodrama. Now we even shy away from drama, which is a big trap. Our trump card now is comedy and not emotions. Why are we embarrassed by it ? Which was the last good romantic song you saw on screen? Do we not fall in love anymore ? We are gaining tempo/speed at the cost of depth. We can’t go back to the tempo of the 60s but we can’t lose depth either.

Reg. Delhi Rape and how we don’t have rape scenes in films nowadays- Because the victim is no longer part of a family. All films show Nuclear families (as they are prevalent in our society). No joint family, hence no hero’s sister (hero’s gf/wife can’t be raped else she will become apavitra), and hence no rape. We are not seeing families or characters’ families. We’re becoming cold gradually.

Now immediate gratification is the vogue. Nobody wants ‘hits’. Everyone wants on the table profits. And because they get it, producers/distributors are not bothered about script/content. Script is always lowest in the list of priorities. The only way we can do it by telling and convincing the producer that there is great money in our scripts. The buyer should be impressed. We are not dealing with saints but businessmen.

So pitch the complete script and not just a concept/story/idea. Model contract is the bottom line. Writers should fight for their names on the posters. They will not offer it to us in a platter. We have to fight for it. It’s a multi throng fight. We’ve to fight with ourselves to improve ourselves and fight them. There are two kinds of things. Things which are for the market and things which create the market. I suggest you go for the latter.

Tom Schulman VC of WGA (writer of firangi mohabattein – Dead Poets Society)

In silent movie era in Hollywood, the movies were ‘written’ by title card writers. A big movie Moghul later is known to have said these two things regarding writers

1. Writers were shmucks with underwood (typewriter)
2. He is the most important person in the creation of motion pictures and he should never know of this!

Early movies, writers had no/little money and no credit. A writer would be shocked to see that the ‘written by’ credit has many a times been given to the production exec’s cousin/sister.

The Oscar Academy was started out in protest of (and to prevent & monopolize) the Writers Union!
We’ve gone on a strike and been successful in our demands being approved for 7 times (for 4 yr duration) in the last 80 yrs. And then we fought for Royalties.

Dharmesh Tiwari (President of Western Indian Cine Employees & a side trivia – played Kripacharya in Mahabharat) These days TV ki haalat itni kharaab hai ki I remember a case of a TV writer approaching an exec with the idea of adaptation of Premchand’s stories. And she was met with a response – “Woh toh theek hai par iss Premchand ne aur kya likha hai?’

Bumped into Thiagarajan Kumararaja (Aaranya Kaandam – National award 2011 best Editing & Debut) who said he follows moifc and was thankful that there is a good quality DVD print of his film with English subtitles floating around. Sadly there has been no official DVD release of his film yet. (We got the DVD via some usual suspects. Thank you ji)

The film was shot in 58 days with 2 days re shooting as the guy who was playing Gajendran (younger bro) originally had passed away in a heart attack. He later discovered the actor who plays Gajendran and realised he is an ex gangster. The elder brother was a retired boxer.
Ilayaraja influence was always there. Though using Poonmene Urungudey from Moondram Pirai (Oh babua Yeh mahua in Sadma) was added later.
Tarantino influence is conscious. Kitano influence isn’t. Have only seen one Kitano film.
It took 4 yrs from writing to making the film. I’m writing my next one.
I’m fascinated with Myth & Mythology

SESSION 1 – KEY NOTE SPEECH – SCREENWRITING AND TRUTH OF OUR TIMES

The much acclaimed Sociologist Key note speaker Shiv Vishwanathan was every inch a GRE word mouthing, every adjective/adverb/composite word spewing intellectual who talked too much but shifted goalposts every now and then and made little sense after a point. Read at your own risk –

Sociologists make very poor storytellers. They are always envious of scriptwriters. Sociology is about capturing the ambiguity of life.
‘Can film be socially responsible?’ – This statement comprises of firstly the word Culture which is usually taken for granted. He narrated an anecdote of a Nazi Minister who said “When I think of Culture, I reach for my gun” And Alexander Grushev who responded with “When I hear the gun, I reach for my Culture”. We however, when hear ‘culture’, reach out for the dictionary.

Cinema vs TV – In the dingy slums of New York couple of decades ago; a young woman was being stalked by a stranger for a long time. As she yelled in fear, suddenly the lights around the tenements were switched on. The stalker took cover but after seeing that no one came to help the girl, came back and stabbed her 41 times and then ran away. When Sociologists asked the people why they didn’t run to help the girl, they responded “We felt we were watching TV!”.
TV provides time table – to wake up in morning to Aastha Channel and go to sleep at night after watching Daily Soap Operas. TV is Civics. Cinema is myth.

Manto is the predecessor of Javed Akhtar. His story on Bombay Talkies is the answer to Pakistan. Bombay Talkies was left alive. Manto created the myth of Bombay Talkies, about unity between Hindus & Muslims.
Bollywood captures part of the imagination, part of the culture of solidarity. But myth of Bollywood is Silence. It amplifies myth of Hindu Muslim Unity but is silent about caste. Heroes are Brahminical angry young men. But no Angry young Dalits.
Social Responsibility is what you cook up when it doesn’t exist. It belongs to Planning Commission not to Bollywood. Because if Bollywood addresses Social Responsibility it loses it’s myth. Bollywood brings oral imagination to Society. It is the secret preamble to the Constitution. The answer to a myth is another myth. Myth is the beauty of Bollywood.

I remember singing Mera Joota Hai Japaani so much in my childhood that my mother often chided me ‘You sing it so much that you think it is the National Anthem’.

Stereotype is comfortable. It is a large house with lots of windows where we go to rest peacefully. AB on Cinema is different from AB on TV (KBC). While AB on Cinema has wisdom and gives solutions, AB on TV gives information.

I liked Rang De Basanti so much when I first saw it but then later it became part of the Aamir Khan Narmada Bachao Aandolan & Anna Hazare movement it became something else. When politics and cinema merge, it becomes embarrassing. People with myopic view of Indian History (fed on NCERT History books) suddenly felt an irresistible urge to be a part of a national movement (like the leaders of Indian National Movement) and took part in it. If problem solving was so easy then what was the problem in the first place? It shouldn’t have become an ideological tome. Social Responsibility thrust on something/someone becomes Fascism. RDB was consumed twice. First time it was eloquence. Second time it became banality.

There have been more people displaced due to the ‘development’ of cities than due to wars we were part of.

Javed Akhtar’s Response – Responsibility is a duty and not a desire. If the writer’s heart is in the right place then social responsibility will be inherent in his work. But if you ‘want’ Social Responsibility then it will be an outsider imposed phenomena. Just like we cannot blame a son for his parents’ wrongdoings, similarly one cannot blame the artist if his art is ‘consumed’ in a particular fashion by the audience. Shakespeare and Ghalib were not exactly gentlemen in their personal lives. Should we criticize their work because of that?

Kamlesh Pandey’s response – When I was writing RDB I had no social responsibility sword hanging on my head. I had a personal grievance though. In my growing up days, we had heard speeches of Nehru that the criminals and corrupt would be hung at the lamp post on the streets. Next day when we went to see the lamp post in our nearby streets, we saw none of the ‘criminals’ hanging there. I channelized my grievances into RDB.

(Shiv Vishwanathan responded to Kamlesh Pandey with an assortment of words strewn tenuously in meandering sentences which were punctuated with words like Digitality, Duality, Causality, Plurality, Technicality, Textuality, Contextuality, Subtextuality, Hypertextuality, Mythicality, Bestiality and other -ities)

Govind Nihlani – Also take into consideration the lack of NFDC funding now. When we had funding, we made ‘socially responsible’ films. But now we have producers who are more into business. The analysis of Bollywood should be done taking into account who is funding those films. Writer/Director cannot function in an autonomous environment.

Anjum Rajabali’s response – I disagree. Iran with so many issues, with so much censorship yet churns out lovely low budget personal films which are political in content too. That cannot be a filmmaker’s excuse.

Shiv Vishwanathan’s response – I’m sure Mr Nihlani you are doing injustice to your work and undermining your own self by using funding as a constraint. Funding & Censorship are constraints for everyone!

Javed Akhtar retorted – I’m sure No source of funding can force Govind Nihalani to make a Dabang! People who provide funding are from no caste/creed/community but are simple money minded business people.

A senior writer Tanvir Saaheb narrated an anecdote – K Asif Saab aur Mehboob Khan saab aksar apne writers ke saath baith ke likhte thay. Kabhi kabhi yeh sawaal uthta tha – ‘Yeh scene censor pass karega kya?’ They used to retort ‘Censor toh film banne ke baad hota hai! Pehle film bana lene do phir censorship ka sochenge‘. V shantram ji ne hamesha mainstream filmein banayi jo socially relevant bhi thi. Aur jahaan tak film industry ka sawaal hai, maine Sunil Dutt saab ko subah 7 ki chai pe script narrate kar rakhi hain. Par aaj naubat aisi hai agar main apni kahaani kisi bade star ko (jis se meri khaasi jaan pehchaan hai) narrate karna chahoon toh mujhe koi uske paas fatakne tak nahi deta. Responsibility toh door, hum mein toh humari jamaat ke liye hi unity nahi hai!

Session 2 – DO SCREENWRITERS HAVE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

K Hariharan (Dean Prasad Academy Chennai)
In India, Cinema came before other industries came and industrialization happened. As a result there was a phase when any tom dick and harry would make a film.  
Social Responsibility is not a mandate. We can however use creative solutions to embed social responsibilities in our writing. One of the first film made in Hollywood was the Great Train Robbery (1903) which is somewhat realistic compared to our first film was Raja Harishchandra which is mythological and non-realistic. We seek solutions in mythology as well. Post Independence we handled several issues like Sexuality, Legality, Crime etc. with creative solutions. Today several mainstream regional films are very intelligent and popular (eg: Tamil Cinema). They are handling formal issues and social messages in a very deft manner.

Tom Schulman – I wrote Medicine Man starring Sean Connery about a doctor who discovers a cure for cancer but loses it somehow in the rainforests of South America. And when he goes to the rain forests in search of the medicinal plants, he finds that the rain forests are being destroyed. The movie did well but the audience sensed that may be they were being preached to or talked down upon. There is an old saying by Sam Goldwyn – ‘If you have a message, call Western Union’. My first few scripts were tagged as ‘message oriented’ scripts. But if I don’t have a theme then what am I writing about? Why am I writing at all? I write because I have something passionate about something to say. Dead Poets Society is about non conformity. If it is tagged as encouraging indiscipline, then so be it! The trick is to know the art & craft of obfuscating/burying the theme so deep that the audience watches the characters/stories and not realise the ‘message’; that the audience absorbs it sub consciously. Although now I understand the criticism of Dead Poets Society since I have children of my own! May be the film does encourage indiscipline.

Vivek Bahl (Programming Head at Star Plus, Zee TV, Chief Entertainment Dir at Sony) – TV has been overtly socially responsible in India! Beyond the loud soap operas it speaks of strong women, empowering the women folk by touching issues like Education, Child Remarriage, Dowry, Balancing the family etc. We don’t do it for society. We do it for the eyeballs. The women. The Housewives. The TRPs. They cannot watch movies in halls. They watch TV. They cannot step out in evenings for a movie. They don’t have options like you and I. We’re giving them some excitement in their lives. We’re entertaining them while connecting with them. And this is a proven fact! In houses with access to cable TV, the attitudes to issues is more progressive. As a business it has worked for us. The ‘change’ will happen when people will start watching the ‘new’ shows. There should be checks to ensure we don’t go the wrong way. We’ve set up BCCC which is similar to the Censor Board except that it is a non-government body.

Reg. approving new ideas & concepts for TV shows –
It depends. I’m not making a low budget film. I’m talking to millions of women and families. It is a huge social responsibility on us to consider ‘Can we say this? Can we get away with that? Will it upset the existing morality too much?’ For eg: An astrologer comes and predicts some event which will happen in the next two days provided the characters take some ‘action’. Now if the event does indeed happen, then we will be reinforcing superstition! Instead I tell the writer – get the astrologer to do the prediction in the episode, but make sure it doesn’t come out true!

Jaideep Sahni – I haven’t looked deeply into the idea of Social Responsibility deeply. You are a citizen of this country and tumhari responsibility utni hi hai jitni baaki citizens ki. If something touches me, I try to share it with whatever empathy & skill I have. There is a saying in Mira Nair’s school in Uganda – “If we don’t tell our stories, who will?”. Beyond the film, one starts entering the realm of Gurus and I’m not comfortable with that.

Chak De India was about women hockey players. I wanted to write a book and make a documentary on their plight. But I found no sponsors. That was a stimulus to get a movie made on them so that they become famous. So that they don’t have to beg for track suits. Rest all are our issues which seeped in by themselves. If you deliberately try to stuff social issues consciously then people get bored. I have to use indirect ways like Humor and stay true to the feeling. If you start becoming too analytical, you will screw it up. It comes automatically from your world view. CDI was not a flag by me. It was a flag of the women athletes and I was just the carrier/messenger.
There are 16 different dialects of Hindi. It is fun to enjoy them & work with them and hope people enjoy them too.

Gajra Kottary (writer of Balika Vadhu, Astitva, Beera) – Balika Vadhu is the first example of an entire show based on a social issue (Child Marriage). 4-1/2 yrs later, it still is true to its concept. The theme itself lent us to speak our own voices. The spin off benefits are that we’ve touched upon many more issues as well – Parenting, Gender Equations, Mother in Law Domination, Education etc.
It should come from within. Natural and Organic. Conviction comes through all the levels. “It is not so much about the lines but what you say between the lines”. After Balika Vadhu, the instances of Child Marriage in Rajasthan have reduced. We don’t have to artificially inject messages in our work. It should come from within. Social Messaging sounds like an NGO. It should not hang like an albatross around our necks.

On comparison with TV Series in US and melodrama in Indian Serials-
Theoretically, we would want to change the melodrama in our serials but the dynamics of business do not allow us to do so. Some sections of the audience may be ready but in a country with 40% illiteracy, we cannot draw comparisons with US TV Series quality standards. I’m all for newer formats but standing up to moral and ethical issues in a family is also Social Responsibility.

Javed Akhtar – Social Responsibility is a boring and puritan term. The objective of Art is to entertain. But there is a difference between ART and Circus. Good art is created somewhere in the no man’s land of Conscious Mind and Sub Conscious mind. Otherwise imposing what you think or I think of social responsibility and imposing it will make us into Khap Panchayats. Social Responsibility is often not bad. It shouldn’t lend itself to Moral Policing. When the ‘WE’ becomes the ‘ME’, social responsibility takes a back seat. A famous person said ‘Show me the advertisements of a society and I will tell you all about the society”. Ads, TV, Films, Art, Literature, Language, Music all are the barometers.

I wonder if any long running TV Serial has been made on a rape victim who survives. Or any rom-com TV Series has been made about Live In Relationships. TV accepts the most regressive forms of society. It has taken over Grihasti & Gharana. Empowered women are shown as Vamps. We can’t show them as positive. Else Moral Police will come. Only ‘bad’ women are empowered. Good women wear saris.

When I entered the industry, I was told ‘Write a script which will do well in the small towns of India, because our money lies there’. In 40 yrs the mantra is turned on its head. Now a well-established Producer/Director says “I don’t care if my films don’t release in UP/Bihar. Urban cities and Diaspora is good enough for me”. He’s indirectly saying that 75% Indians don’t matter to him. He doesn’t care about the small cities. Is this a sign of Development? So what Social Responsibility are we talking about? The culprit is also the audience. Like a religious man cannot blame God, we can’t blame the audience. But the truth is our audience is mediocre. A vulgar song is created by 10-15 people – the lyricist, actor-actress, music director, choreographer, director, producer etc. But when it becomes a big hit, it is the millions of people enjoying it are the culprits, not just the 10-15 people associated with it.

Do Beegha Zameen, Shri 420, Ganga Jamuna, Mother India, Pyaasa were all blockbusters! In the 50s-60s the middle class was educated and went in for professions like Doctor, Engineers, Teachers, and Bureaucrats. Industrialization created a new middle class. In 25 years, almost 20 crore people jumped into the middle class bracket. Culture takes 3 generations to come and 3 generations to lose. Intellectual depth will take time. Another 10 years and we will have the kind of scripts which we’ve never seen before onscreen. You cannot impose social responsibility. It has to be part of the fabric.

Rajesh Dubey – Javed Akhtar Saab key opinions 8 saal purane TV serials ke baare mein hai. Aaj Vamp ’empowered’ nahi hai. Aaj Hum log inn inn subjects par Serial Episodes bana chuke hain – Honour Killing, Child Marriage, Marital Rape, Rape, Puberty, Remarriage, Eve Teasing, Surrogacy, Adoption. Aur in sab subjects ko hum kaafi entertaining tareeke se treat kar chuke hain.

Audience Q&A
1. Why is the family structure still omnipresent on TV Serials?
A-It is breaking but gradually. It cannot happen overnight. The Sari clad woman image is changing slowly.

2. I approached a TV executive with an adaptation of Jai Shanker Prasad’s Kamyani. The response was ‘Kamyani kaun hai ? Inki biwi hai kya?’ Why are the execs so ill read when it comes to literature?
A- Some people are always there. It is a business not literature. However, change is happening.3. Why is the TV target audience women? Why not make serials for Men in the house? We have to step out when our wives are watching Saas Bahu serials.
A- Just take the remote from your wife, sir.

SESSION 3 – HOW DOES OUR POPULAR CINEMA & TV POTRAY WOMEN

Rajni Bakshi (freelance journalist) – Draupadi Cheer haran from Mahabharat is traditionally told in the ‘vilaap’ mode. She asks some profound questions during that event. “If I’m part and parcel of you, then I should never separate from you. Why did you put me at stake separately? And since you did put me on stake separately, that implies I’m an autonomous person and I have my own identity. Then how can you stake me as a property against my will?”

I have interacted with women working in the Silicon Valley who still believe in the practice of Dowry.
The Sex Ratio is worse in Malabar Hills & Colaba than Thane !

Shabana Azmi – I grew up in an environment where IPTA leaders used to regularly attend meetings in my house. I’ve read their writings which had potrayls of real women, in the works of Manto, Chughtai, Kaifi Azmi, Sardar Jafri, Premchand etc.

Regarding Delhi Gang Rape, everybody started blaming everyone else. I think it is the time to look inwards. The first thing to be abolished should be the item number. Nirbhay wanted to live ! And it was heartening to note so many people coming out with placards saying ‘Nirbhay. Tum achchi ho jao’

Between Draupadi and Savitri, the latter is the role model of Indian Middle Class women while it should have been the former since she challenges the patriarchy! 

I may be accused of Nepotism but in ZNMD, Katrina Kaif had such a small yet significant role. She was important to the story. The intention of the director is revealed during her Deep Sea Diving Lessons scene, where the camera doesn’t linger at all on her assets (unlike other Hindi films). Katrina is the one who helps Hrithik overcome his vulnerabilities and re-discover Love, and she goes on a bike and seizes the moment by kissing him; something which normally a hero would have done. Even the romantic song is picturized on the expressions of Hrithik Roshan and not on her body contours.

Ashutosh Gowarikar – Is cinema affecting reality or does reality influence cinema? When I was young I would go to the theatres (in the 70s) and would see maar dhaadh action films in which the importance of heroines was reduced. When I went home and saw films like Sujata, Bandini, Ganga Jamuna on DD, I used to be fascinated by the strong women characters. Cinema of 60s got left behind in the 70s & 80s.

The depiction of rape/seduction sequence is different in a mainstream masala film, from a ‘meaningful’ film. It depends on what the target audience is. I tried to create meaningful women characters. Writers would approach me with scripts and say ‘Ek ladki ki kahaani hai. Bahut achcha women oriented subject hai. Women will be empowered’.

Even in a mainstream film we need to take care and ensure sensitive portrayal. Earlier there were Cabaret girls as the heroines would not be ‘expected’ to do them. Now Cabaret has got restructured as item numbers.

Indian Hero has been ‘macho’ since the time of Raja Harishchandra, in which the female character was played by a male artist. And even in that scene, ‘her’ anatomy was shown. Exhibition of women onscreen has always been a moneymaking proposition. We cannot differentiate between Sensuality & Vulgarity.
A line like ‘Tumhari Charanon ki dhool hoon main, yehin jiyoongi, yehin maroongi’ worked in Sahib Biwi Ghulam back then. But today it will look so regressive.

Thiagarajan Kumararaja – I see no difference between a man and a woman. Violence against women has been an issue since ages. Until recent times it was always in vogue to show women ‘differently’. I doubt if people gain knowledge from TV/Cinema. It is the family that imparts knowledge.The recent rise of the ‘macho’ man is implied that it has come from the south. But the truth is that it came from the north to south as the angry young man to start with! TV is a women’s medium as opposed to Cinema which is a man’s medium. Men (at least in South) go to the theaters and want to watch their own representation on screen. Mostly men go to the theaters while women watch TV.

Anuradha Tiwari (writer of TV serials & Fashion, Jail, Heroine)
As they say, TV is the thing with Hindustan (small town middle class) & Bharat (villagers). Cinema is for India (metros).
There are no women oriented films. Except a rare Kahaani & English Vinglish which could have been stories about persons and not necessarily women.

I wrote a crime serial on 26/11 attacks & terrorism (which is sadly not doing so well). After each episode I submitted, I would get a response ‘Why isn’t there a woman? We need some rona dhona!’ And the same day I would go and meet producers regarding pitching my feature film script about three women friends. ‘Female Dil Chahta Hai types hai kya?’ would be the first response. I would reluctantly agree and proceed to narrate my story when the second response would be ‘Arey yaar falaana ka boyfriend jo hai na, uska role badhao thoda. Nahi toh picture chalegi kaise?’
I couldn’t understand how Anushka Sharma comes out of the talaab in a village in haryana and yet agrees to get forcibly married against her wishes.

Rajesh Tiwari (TV writer) – Three days ago in an upmarket residential society in Malad where I stay, I was shocked to see that while there is a tussle going on for car parking space and area for children to play; the society has gone ahead and planted a Tulsi ka ped in the compund! That is the dichotomy we are going through. ‘I want two SUVs (not a small car) and Tulsi ka ped too!’.

Q. I fail to understand why there are so many female characters on TV and yet there is no potrayl of the progressive woman.
A- Because they do market research in small towns. This is what works and will work!

Question to Anuradha Tiwari – Fashion and Heroine are regressive films
A – I don’t get the criticism of the ‘regressive nature’ of Fashion & Heroine. In fact, Fashion became a template for the new age Indian Woman. She was allowed to fall down (due to the choices she made), and yet climb up and walk again! 3 men she slept with in the film and yet she didn’t come across as a Slut!

WHAT: Asia Society India Centre announces the launch of the New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters (NVFS), a program to identify and support a group of six talented independent screenwriters to develop their feature film scripts by working in a dynamic and innovative environment with guidance from eminent filmmakers and screenwriters.

Time Warner is the Founding Sponsor of the New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters.

FELLOWSHIP: Through an open application process, six screenwriters from across India will be selected for a year-long Fellowship that will provide a creative platform to explore new ideas.

Each participating Fellow will receive:

 – A stipend of Rs.1,00,000

– Regular mentoring from noted screenwriters/directors toward the completion of a feature script

– Two week-long intensive workshops led by industry professionals and with active participation from peers in a learning community

– Recommendations on developing contacts and approaches to taking their scripts to the next phase — developing strategies and approaches to finding producers, directors, distributors, festivals, etc.

ELIGIBILITY : Indian Nationals residing in India, 18 years and above, are eligible to apply.

The Fellowship is open to Indian nationals residing in India who have written one full-length script that has been registered with the Film Writers Association (FWA).

SCHEDULE: Open for Applications – 1st July – 31st August 15th Sept, 2011

Announcement of 12 shortlisted applicants – 20th October, 2011

Interviews of 12 shortlisted applicants – 8th November, 2011

Announcement of 6 Fellows – 8th November, 2011

First residential screenplay workshop in Mumbai  -9th – 13th November, 2011

Second residential screenplay workshop in Mumbai -May 2012 (Dates TBC)

Closing Ceremony -June 2012 (Dates TBC)

STIPEND : The Fellows will receive a stipend of Rs.1,00,000. 50% of the money will be released at the beginning, 25% on completion of five months and the remaining 25% on successful completion of the Fellowship.

ADVISORY COUNCIL & MENTORS : Anjum Rajabali,  Jaideep Sahni, Dev Benegal, Saket Chaudhary, Sriram Raghavan, Ashwini Malik and Vinay Shukla.

To know more about the rules and regulations, click here.