Qalam 2001 gets off to exciting start

Veteran, established and aspiring scriptwriters from all over Mumbai converged in a meeting of minds at India's first ever TV scriptwriters' workshop Qalam 2001, in Mumbai's western suburb of Andheri on Thursday.

The first day of the two-day workshop was marked by a wealth of information from the speakers, plenty of interactivity with participants and insights into the art of writing for television. Speakers included former Sony programming head Rekha Nigam, Tracinema creative head Vinta Nanda, eminent scriptwriters B M Vyas, Mir Muneer and Vipul D Shah and writers' association representatives. The cohesive force in the two-day workshop is Joyce Thierry, a scriptwriter and instructor from the Vancouver Film School, Canada.

The morning session commenced with Rekha Nigam charting out the ten commandments of scripting -

  • Know and respect thy target audience

  • Write for the medium

  • Learn to present your work

  • Never go to a channel with just one concept

  • Thou shalt not flog a formula

  • Innovate. Innovate. Innovate.

  • Thou shalt recharge your batteries.

  • God is in the details.

  • To thine own self be true.

  • Go forth and multiply.


She spoke about the necessity of reaching viewers on their wavelength and language, constantly innovating and exploring new genres, keeping in touch with changing viewer tastes and the importance of presentation of a concept or story to a channel or production house.

Joyce Thierry, who conducted the next session, explored the anatomy of a TV programme, maintaining that on television, characters matter more than the personality of actors, unlike in movies, where the hero often overshadows his reel character. Good research skills and an interesting point of view are, hence, an important component of any good script, she said.

Among the suggestions that were thrown up during the course of the workshop, it was felt that channels should form focus groups for channel executives to help them feel the pulse of the viewers. The dearth of availability of scripts also hampered the study of earlier scripts by established and aspiring writers. While fear of theft of concepts often hinders a free exchange of ideas. speakers agreed that a writers' guild, like ones in the US and Canada, would go a long way in protecting writers' interests. The need for writers' training institutes was also expressed by many participants in the workshop, while the need for policing channels to weed out detrimental material was also felt.

The need for patience in a scriptwriter's career was brought home by a budding participant who pointed out that most writers are often turned away from production houses at the gate itself. His lament about how was a security guard expected to judge the worth of his work (which is as far as he has been able to get thus far with the various production houses in the city).

Vinta Nanda, best known as the writer behind the marathon serial Tara, spoke of the degeneration of content in television soaps and programmes. Social commitment, she said, need not necessarily mean making documentaries, but being sensitive to viewers' tastes and thinking about the impact of their writing on the multitudes who watch TV. Television currently portrays a society that is non-existent, she said. Social workers have to spend days undoing the damage wreaked upon gullible audiences by regressive soaps, she pointed out.

BM Vyas, in a lighter vein, pointed out that the most ordinary lives have a lot of drama in it. Speaking on the hows and whys of a serial, he said that bringing out this drama is as important as the story structure and communication techniques. Asserting the need to keep a balance when dealing with channels, he said a positive outlook was important. An antagonistic attitude would often mean the writer's work not being given an airing while if the writer was willing to work within the constraints of the system there were myriad ways of subtly getting across positive messages, was how he saw it.

Continuing the lighter note, Vipul D Shah noted that a writer should seek out characters from among his surroundings and then develop them with one's imagination. "The characters have to be unique as well as identifiable", he said. Comedy serials stipulate that the protagonists have a unique peculiarity, a certain style and a background, on the basis of which interrelationships and his reactions in adverse situations can be fleshed out.

In his address on developing a comedy, Shah said that the genre is yet to get its due in a developing television industry like the Indian one, accounting for the high incidence of slapstick comedy current here.

Participants also got an insight into the legal aspects of scriptwriting from Film Writers' Association's Rajbir Singh, who spoke of the problems faced by Indian scriptwriters. Most do not sign contracts with production houses, are often not given credits, and are sometimes not paid on time.

Maintaining that scripts are a writer's intellectual property, Singh said that the association safeguards interests of writers by getting producers to give writer their dues on time.

The association registers screenplays, concepts and dialogues of writers and updates members about laws and changing regulations. Writers cannot be changed midway through a serial, he informed, without the permission of the earlier writer. Again, production houses have just one year's rights on the writer's script, after which it can be reclaimed, he said.

Saans and Chunauti writer Mir Muneer stressed the need for budding writers to soak up literature, both English and Indian, in order to hone their writing skills. "One can start with adaptations of English plays, as a stepping stone to good scripts", he said.

Latest Reads
TV is story-teller's new novel; audience is Bharat, not India: Star's Banerjee

MUMBAI: Since five to six years, television has become the talking point. Th series such as 'Breaking Bad' to Transparent to Narcos to 'Game of Thrones' to 24, and now POW (Prisoners of Wars) has changed the experience of television viewing.

Television TV Channels GECs
Star World to air 1-5 of 'Homeland'

Star World and Star World HD is all geared up to air the pulse-pounding action series 'Homeland.' The show tackles geopolitical moral conundrums of our current world. It has recently unveiled the teaser for the upcoming season 6 shows how Carrie Mathison will circumvent around another international...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
Share all World Cup, T-20 feeds with Prasar Bharati, rights holder told

The telecast of all official one-day and Twenty-20 matches played by the Indian Men’s Cricket Team will henceforth have to be shared by the rights holder with the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati under the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007.

Television TV Channels Terrestrial
Saregama returns to film music acquisition with Pen pact

Saregama India has inked a two-movie deal with Pen Movies. With this agreement, Saregama has acquired the music rights of upcoming Bollywood releases of Pen which includes Kahaani 2 -- Durga Rani Singh, featuring Vidya Balan and Arjun Rampal.Kahaani 2 is slated for a release on 2 December.

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
Q2-17: Zeel numbers, PAT up on higher Ad and Subscription revenue

The Subhash Chandra led content and broadcast player Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (Zeel) reported a 23 per cent hike in consolidated revenue for the quarter ended 30 September 2016 (Q2-17, current quarter) as compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Television TV Channels GECs
Best Deal TV appoints Hari Trivedi as COO

MUMBAI: Best Deal TV has appointed Hari Trivedi as the chief operating officer with immediate effect. Based in Mumbai, Trivedi will be responsible for overall sales and marketing. He would also be initializing lowest price offers and deals on Best Deal TV.

Television TV Channels People
Disney announces successor of MD Siddharth Roy-Kapur

MUMBAI: Walt Disney International has announced the successor to its former managing director Siddharth Roy-Kapur. As a second stint with the organization, Mahesh Samat has made a comeback and will lead The Walt Disney Company India as the managing director. He will pursue his new responsibility...

Television TV Channels People
Life is more imaginative than fiction in a story like POW, says writer-director Gideon Raff

MUMBAI: Sometimes, coming back home after 17 years is not always a happy ending. "Prisoners of War" is the story of three Israeli soldiers, who were held captive for that many years following their kidnapping while on a secret mission with their unit.

Television TV Shows Thriller
IPL media rights bidding postponed sine die

MUMBAI: The BCCI has made it clear that the media rights auction cannot take place till the time it gets a concrete go-ahead and a formal approval from the Justice RM Lodha committee. Till the evening of 24 October (Monday), BCCI did not receive the okay from the committee which said, "it is in...

Television TV Channels Sports

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories