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SWA collaborating with CINTAA for a panel discussion titled Pen to performance

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SWA collaborating with CINTAA for a panel discussion titled "Pen to performance" at the Act Fast 2019 with panellists Sunil Salgia, Zama Habib, Sanjay Chauhan, Abhijeet Deshpande, Naved Aslam, Robin Bhatt and Mayur Puri.

*Robin Bhatt:-

Have you faced a situation when you wrote a script and you received the limelight or do the actors take away all the credits? And if the film flops, has the blame of that come on you?

--You feel happy once your film does well and, of course, the actors run away with the awards and everything

If I tell you the truth, then it feels really great when a film works. You are the man behind the scenes, that is the profession you choose. Once you choose that profession you will feel that you are a behind the screen performer.

Has it ever happened to you that you have written a script for someone else and later on you find out that he was not ready and have had to change the script again?

--We had written a script for Ranbir Kapoor and he rejected. Later, we asked other actors as well. They all rejected it. In my script, the hero was a twenty-two-year-old boy. Later on, Shah Rukh Khan said yes to the film. The director said that Shah Rukh is saying yes for the film, so then I said will change the script. And we did it and the movie released as "Chennai Express". So, the writer's job is to portray the script (in a way) where changes can be made at any time. "Baazigar" was rejected by each and every actor. Salman said it's a villain's role, Akshay said I have already done (this), Sunil Shetty said no as everyone's rejected (this), then there was a guy who said yes but only if it is a negative character. Shah Rukh Khan said yes to Baazigar whereas five-six people said no, and we got an award as well for the best screenplay.

*Zama Habib

Essentially, did you want to become a producer and for that you have done these exercises? Or did you want to become a writer and in the middle of that you became an actor? Tell us about that.

--Actually, in our profession, the actor is the biggest support for the writer. This is because he plays the main lead and he acts what exactly you have written or better than that. And our real enemy nowadays has become the director, in the last ten to fifteen years, not the actor. In fact, all the big actors and small actors, they all want to play all types of characters.

As for the director, they always wish their name to be showcased. So, our real enemy is the director, not the actor. Since the start, I have seen (that) I (can) write everything, so (I thought that) in the future if I act, then I can direct myself as well. So, that was the idea. And to become a producer was a simple idea as the control will be in my hand.

--A daily soap has its own grammar, or we can say compulsions. In our case, we have always shown our script to the director and the same director looks after the scripting, shoot, edit, background music. The real problem is when you shoot for thirty days then you you don't get time to look after scripting, music and edit. So, they bring in a person called the creative director. I am saying the creative director is a fraud basically. They are called as the creative co-ordinate. Their duty is to look after the scene that is going on and how it's going to be shown. Which you can't say is script supervising. They have to tell the director, and they look after the editing part.

On other hand, nowadays directors have also turned lazy because they feel if they won't shoot for a day, they don't get paid.

-Writers are more secure and more powerful.

Yes, they earn more than director in television.

*Mayur Puri

Has it ever happened to you that on the set people command on you, as you have worked with all the big artists?

--No, never. I have worked with Shah Rukh sir. He respects the script. In fact, he is the only actor who, when you give him the script for the first time, reads the scene out and allows you see exactly how you have written it.

The intention of a writer is very clear most of the time. But there are a lot of writers who have been illiterate. Illiterate, in the sense that writing is a craft especially screen writing. Screen writing is just like writing a novel. Kavita and all, you should know what exactly you are writing, so that the actor also knows what you have written. Is it a document, manual, a film script or a TV script?

---Sometimes, it's not an actor's fault because the writers don't write in description. For example, in Dhoom, I was an associate director. It's an action-based film and it was a chase scene but when you see the Dhoom script, all that is mentioned is "mind-blowing chasing scene."

-- I had written this film called "The Fight Club". I had written only the additional dialogues for that and at that time, my wife was pregnant with our first son. I was in Ahmadabad and my director called me and he said, "I have put a trolley set and the dialogues are very short. Can you please add two more lines in it?' Then I said, Sir you can slow down the trolley?" and he said, "No, I can't because then it will impact my light as well." I said, "Sir then you can ask the actor to space out, or he can deliver dialogues slowly." Then the director said, "I don't have an actor, I have Dino Mourya." So, my wife was in labour and I wrote two extra lines. Sometimes, you also have to adjust. At the end of the day, we are creating the content what audience want.

--When I go to talk and pitch my ideas to most of the studios (I see that) nowadays studios are the producer. They always say, "Sir, no idea is small, no script is a flop. It's a budget that flops, a film never flops." I have always said that when a film becomes a hit, nobody says the budget is a hit. People just appreciate the story and acting. Budget should not be the first criteria.

If you think of the history of Europe, the history of UK, they divide their history by the age of Alexander, the poet, the age of William Shakespeare, who was an actor and a writer and a director as well. And, in India, our history is the age of Barber, the age of Akbar, the age of Aurangzeb. This is how it is divided. We have to change. How we look at history, how we look at categories, the timeWhy can't we do the age of Kalidasa, the age of Tulsidas? That will only happen if an actor understands and appreciates the co-relation between writers and actors. We all are one community, we all are together. We all are storytellers. We all are writers. You should try and get some respect.


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