Screenplay the foundation of a good film

MUMBAI: Good screenplay and content are what make films click at the box-office and other factors are secondary, according to renowned filmmakers and script writers.

Addressing a session on ‘The Screenplay: The Missing Link’ at the ongoing Ficci Frames 2010, speakers were emphatic that greater attention should be paid to the content and to the script.

In fact, actor Shah Rukh Khan had said at the inaugural session that screenwriting should be treated as a science and not an art, and screenplay writers needed to sharpen their screen writing skills.

It was pointed out that in Hollywood, scriptwriting is a long process which sometimes takes as long as three years and is accompanied by research. As a result, the actual shooting does not take too much time since the screenplay is written with all details and this makes it easier for the director to shoot without hindrance.

But in India, scriptwriting is given very little importance. According to screen writer Kamlesh Pandey, of the several producers he had taken the script of Rang De Basanti, one had asked him after sitting on the script for a month: “Tell me, who is this Basanti?”, to which he had retorted: “Well this film is ‘Sholay’ from the perspective of Basanti.”

“This is the condition of screenwriters here. Let me tell you something. The Film Writers Association is fighting with the producers to pay a minimum of Rs 200,000 to a screenplay writer,” said noted lyricist, poet and screenwriter Javed Akhtar.

“Rather than concentrate on the script, producers are more interested about the stars, the locations and the technical expertise without appreciating that the screenplay is the foundation of a film. Mostly, films crumble at the box-office because their screenplays are weak,” Akhtar added.

Hollywood scriptwriter Steven de Souza agreed: “There in Hollywood we do not lay emphasis on stars but on stories - Avatar being the latest example”.

Responding to an oft-repeated question, Akhtar said “Stories are mostly written keeping in mind the 1200 multiplex screens the country has, despite the fact that these will cater to just 35 per cent of the population of the country, and the other 65 per cent reside in small towns or villages.

“Earlier, writers could not find any subject other than stories for gangster films. Now even that is saturated. Actual stories are happening in interiors but why is it that we do not source our stories from the hinterland?”, asked Akhtar.

De Souza said no one got down to making a film until the screenwriting is complete, whereas in India it is just the opposite.

“While an art director and a film editor sit ahead of the camera when the shoot happens, the scriptwriter is made to stand way behind the camera,”
creenwriter Pandey complained.

Akhtar said, “Screenplay writers should get their right due and respect

as good stories paved the path of success at the box-office”.

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