Women to the fore as Qalam concludes

MUMBAI: It was "womens' day out" as the second edition of's scriptwriters workshop Qalam - that provides an ideal platform for the convergence of the cr?me de la cr?me of India's TV scriptwriting industry and the budding aspirants - concluded today.

The highlight of the day's proceedings was the fact that of the 12 finalists shortlisted for the first ever Writers' Pitch in India, 11 of those selected by an eminent panel of judges were women. The lucky four whose scripts were rated highly were Suhana Bhatia who was ranked as the best of the scriptwriters, Niharika Gandhi (at No 2), Archana Chawla and Shilpa Varma (joint third).

The annual workshop is conducted at Time & Again Banquets in Mumbai's Lokhandwala Complex in Andheri and was backed by Sony Entertainment Television who came on board as the presenting sponsor with and Multimedia Company UTV being the associate sponsor. BAG Films and Siddhant Cinevision also supported Qalam and came on board as stationery sponsors.


The third and the final day of Qalam began with the Siddhant Cinevision's creative director and ace scriptwriter Vinod Ranganath offering participants a few last-minute tips and guidelines on screenplay writing.

The participants spent the next three hours plotting a story and a screenplay for a single episode of that story. (Ranganath had provided the attendees with a short story premise the day before which they had to develop further).

After a lot of brain racking, nailing biting and temporary memory lapses, participants were ready with their "masterpieces". Later most of the participants jocularly said, 'We were transported few a years back to the examination hall for some time".

The first speaker for the day, eminent dialogue writer Sutapa Sikdar spoke on the craft of dialogue writing for Television. The screenplay, in the present scenario, is not usually written in Hindi but the dialogue delivery is Hindi. There is therefore a specialized bunch of writers with good command over the language who write dialogues. However, according to Sutapa, the system is flawed and suggested that screenwriters need to have a fair idea about dialogue writing and vice-versa.

As his opening statement the next speaker, screenwriter of the much-acclaimed Kaun Banega Crorepati RD Tailang said: "There is loads of money in show writing". And the audience clued in almost instantaneously. 

The distinguished scriptwriter, journalist and cartoonist continued to enthrall the audience with his experience as an anchoring and game show writer. Tailang, in an interactive session, went point by point through all the details that an aspiring scriptwriter should know. 

"As a scriptwriter for a host based show it is very important that you are well versed with firstly the nature of the show, the psyche of the host and most importantly his dialect," he told the crowd.

Noted docudrama writer-director Sandhya Divecha conducted the next session. She threw the floor open to suggestions and explained the term concept. The session was quite an eye-opener as she said that docudrama does not translate into a boring drama and neither into a cinematic piece whose purpose is to offer moral to the story. 

In a practical session, she chose a recent news item and challenged the audience to come up with interesting ideas to develop it into an ideas for docudrama. It was quite a revelation as the participants came up with praiseworthy plots.

The last session of the second Qalam was conducted by software specialist Riken Choksi, who deals in computer software targeted at scriptwriting professionals. 

During the session, he explained the utility of the new technology and software in script writing. In a methodical presentation he explained how a screenplay writer can benifit from an innovatory sofware program 'Power Structure'.

It was finally time for the most awaited moment - the Writers' Pitch. Panelists Vinod Ranganthan, Ashwani Dhir, Anil Wanvari, and Sanjay Upadhyay, Sandhya Divecha narrowed down on 12 participants who would be fortunate enough to pitch their scripts.

All but one of the 12 participants zeroed down by the judges were women. Niharika Gandhi, Kirti Bakshi, Suhana Bhatia, Reema Suri, YK Poornima, Ritu Bhatia, Rabia N, Archana Chawla, Shibani Thimble, Delzin Tantra and Shilpa Varma.The only male amongst them was Moneesh Narula.

After a narration session of over two hours the panel, which consisted of Cinevistaas' Siddharth Malhotra, Star India's Shailja, Sidhant Cinevision promoter Manish Goswami, Sony Entertainment creative director Saurabh Vanzara, Sony Entertainment's programming head Anupama Mondloi, Contiloe Films Abhimanyu Singh, Zee Telefilms' Ashwini Singh, Star India's creative head honcho Deepak Segal and UTV creative director Sukesh Motwani, voted for of the attendees as the top three scriptwriters of Qalam. The lucky four selected were Suhana Bhatia, Niharika Gandhi, Archana Chawla and Shilpa Varma.

Before it dawned on the participants that the three-day rush had finally reached its climax they had already donned their dancing shoes and were boogeying away at the post Qalam gala at the same venue.

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