Scriptwriters course Qalam 2003 kicks off Saturday

MUMBAI: The television industry's constant cry for trained scriptwriters is getting a hearing and how. With positive response from channels as well as production houses, television and media services company flags off a three-month comprehensive TV Scriptwriters course tomorrow.

Qalam, which is what the course is called, has been ideated, created and executed by prominent television writers and media personalities.

Qalam will open tomorrow, in Mumbai, with a valedictory address by award winning writer and Nimbus Communications CEO Akash Khurana.

Addressing a press conference today at The Taj Hotel in south Mumbai, Dr Khurana reiterated the general feeling in the television industry saying that, "While everyone feels the need for such a course, very few people do anything about evolving writers and training them."

"I would have done better if I had similar training facilities in my time," he reflected.

Siddhant Cinevision creative director Vinod Ranganath, who's the force behind the structuring of the course, feels that Qalam is about getting quality writers into the industry. He believes Qalam will provide structured and specific teaching for aspiring writers to cater to the growing and demanding television industry. "Qalam has more to do with the technique of writing than linguistics. Language can be trained," he explained.

With more than 20,000 hours of programming generated every year in only the Hindi entertainment television channels, CEO Anil Wanvari believes, "That's a lot of plots, stories, tracks, and dialogue. And we don't have enough trained talent."

Emphasising the value of hands-on learning experience, Dr. Khurana said the course would focus on a practical learning-by-doing approach. He said companies like Contiloe Films, Star TV, Neo Films, In House Productions, and Nimbus Communications, which have come forward to sponsor scholarships, will invite students to come and avail of the infrastructural and other facilities in their offices.

This, he stressed, would not only give them an idea of the real working terms but will also help them to put together their own body of work by the time they are through with the course. This tangible profile of hands-on experience, he said, would also help them in jump-starting their careers. The sponsors also indicated that they would be interacting closely with the students and would consume some of the skilled products that the course will throw up.

The course is slated to run for 12 weeks with three interactive sessions a week, spanning two to four hours. The longer weekend sessions would focus on illustrating the educational experience with the help of video sessions. Additionally, participants will be urged to take part in the discussions, ideation and analyses. Interactivity will be the keyword for the entire course. The course fees have been set at Rs 10,000.

Qalam has on its governing board Dr Khurana, Ranganath, Wanvari, writer-director Aditya Seth, and writer-director Vijay 'Victor' Acharya.

The guest faculty includes television luminaries like eminent scriptwriters and directors including Sanjay Upadhyay, Atul Tiwari, BM Vyas, Ashwani Dhir, Vivek Agnihotri and many more. Aditya Seth will be the course coordinator for Qalam.

Khurana sees Qalam as a vicarious personal victory as he believes that Wanvari has delivered what he had only dreamt of. He also expressed hope that Qalam would act as a catalyst for other corporates to come in with their own initiative.

Answering a question, Khurana commented that hindi television writers were not drawing much upon their literature unlike Bengali and Marathi television which draw a lot from their respective regional literatures because, for one, most writers had poor awareness of literature. Secondly, it was a market driven industry and market responses ultimately reflected in their bottomlines.

For the organisers and the faculty, Qalam is an exercise in giving back to the industry. And as Ashwini Dhir recounted Wanvari's words, "If you write so well, what's the use if you take it with you. Pass it on."

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