Sensitivity and observation are some of the qualities required of an effective writer : Anjana Sood

Scripting 50 hours of TV programmes in a month is no mean achievement. Anjana Sood does exactly that, with the help of her brother, Vicky Chandra. She has been simultaneously writing the screenplay of Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kahin Diya Jale Kahin Jiya, Kundali and Kalash. KGGK, as anyone would know, has already become a TRP buster.

Another soap, Kamal, from the Balaji stable, is also in the pipeline. Not many, however, know that Anjana is an actor too. She plays an important role in Cinevista's Sanskruti.

For someone who ranks as one of the most sought after writers on TV, Anjana is surprisingly low profile and modesty personified, though understandably sore about the fact that television writers have not been given their due share of recognition.'s correspondent Amar met Anjana on the sets of Sanskruti to find out her success mantra.

How did you get into script writing?

I was in the 11th standard when I wrote my first play Subah aur Sham, without any understanding of drama. Even later, I kept writing poetry and short stories as a hobby. Much later, when my husband who is an army officer, was transferred to Mumbai, I wrote my first serial, Bandhan, which was a co-production with Anupam Kher's company. Ever since, I have stayed in Mumbai, writing serials.

What are the natural instincts required of an effective scriptwriter?

I believe it is God's gift. The flow of ideas; sensitivity and observation are some of the qualities required of an effective writer.

What are the factors you keep in mind before starting a new project?

Well, you should be able to fall in love with the story at first glance, the moment you hear the concept. It's like going out shopping and finding an object that you simply cannot resist purchasing.

How advantageous or detrimental is it to work as a writer duo?

The biggest advantage I have is that my brother Vicky stays with me. So, we can work whenever we find it convenient and also exchange ideas instantly. This leads to work taking place in a much smoother way. The disadvantage is that Vicky is my brother, so I have to be very sensitive and careful with him, even if I may not agree with his ideas in totality. I guess it happens the other way round too.(laughs)

Because I act, I also write on the sets, waiting for my scenes. When there is a pressure of meeting deadlines, one has to write late into the night too.


What are your respective areas of strength? How do you divide responsibilities between the two of you?

We don't really work that way. We just sit and mutually decide on the ideas after which one of us writes down the screenplay. Because Vicky is my brother, we have a very easy working relationship. We don't need to observe formalities like actual division of work and there is utmost trust between us.

What is scripting a daily serial like?

It's tough and demanding, with 20 episodes being written in one month. But we've got used to it. In fact, at this point of time, we are so accustomed to working at that pace that we might just feel clumsy working on a weekly serial.

A month ago, you were working on four projects simultaneously. How did you divide your responsibilities?

I had allocated 15 days in the month to Balaji (producer of KGGK, Kalash and Kundali) and 15 days to of KDJKJ. Balaji required relatively lesser time, partly because the story-line is given by the producer and partly due to the convenience of having all the executive producers (on the different projects) at the same place. KDJKJ, on the other hand, required a little more time and effort because it was entirely my baby. Writing 50 hours of software a month is certainly a very demanding task as well as a significant achievement.

How much time do you require to write one episode?

I can complete the screenplay in about two hours. Dialogues normally require four to five hours, though we normally avoid doing dialogues. As such I can write four episodes (a week's work in the case of a daily) in one and a half days, at the most.

What is your writing schedule like?

I usually write in the early morning from five am to 10 am - I prefer to write at this time of the day. But the set up that we operate in doesn't permit a definite schedule. Because I act, I also write on the sets, waiting for my scenes. When there is a pressure of meeting deadlines, one has to write late into the night too.

Kahin Diyaa Jale Kahin Jiyaa
Such joint families are not make-believe. They do exist in our country as do the tussles and twists shown in the story.


Does TV writing pay well?

Not really. Depending on his stature, a screenplay writer gets anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 35,000 per episode in the case of a weekly and anywhere between Rs 4,000 to Rs 12,000 in the case of a daily soap.

Why do experienced writers normally shy away from writing dialogues? Is money a factor?

Money is one of the factors. For writing the dialogue, one can get anywhere between Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000 for a weekly and between Rs1,500 to Rs 5,000 for a daily. Besides, many writers don't find dialogue-writing all that challenging from the creative aspect because by the time the screenplay is ready, the ideas are more or less in place and hence are not all that charged up to take up the dialogues.

Dialogues are also more taxing and take up more time. But some writers find playing with words their forte and specialise in it.

Don't you get bored carving out umpteen plots and sub-plots in a daily family drama? Do you personally relate to it?

At times, it tends to get a trifle boring but then some amount of boredom at some stage is inevitable in any profession. Yes, I do personally relate with these stories. I would find it very difficult to write them otherwise. See, contrary to what most people would have you believe, such joint families are not make-believe. They do exist in our country as do the tussles and twists shown in the story.

How do you go about sketching your characters? Tell us specifically what went into the creation of Shweta Kwatra's character in Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki.

Shweta's character was basically Ekta's (Kapoor) idea. She gave us a brief and we took it from there. I knew I had to create a negative character - the sort of woman who would break a happy home and create misunderstandings between family members. I relied mainly on my instincts though in my subconscious, memories of such women I may have come across in life helped. Personally, I have not relied on other famous bitchy characters on TV - like the ones Navneet Nishan played in Tara and Andaz. I hardly watched those serials.

You are also an actor. Is writing a route to get you the kind of roles you would want to do as an actor?

No, no. I am primarily a writer and will continue to remain that. I enjoy acting though and don't mind taking up roles with substance which I enjoy doing.

Writing a daily must be a chaotic process. Do you have to re-write a lot due to the availability problems of actors?

No. The block dates of actors for a month are taken much in advance so we know which actor is available for a given schedule and write his role accordingly. But yes, the script and the storyline depend to an extent on the availability of actors and that certainly curbs our freedom of ideas to that extent.

Does a script also need to be re-worked while shooting? Are you present on certain shoots?

Not really. Some changes or clarifications are sometimes discussed with the director but that is normally taken care of on phone.

Which has been your favourite piece of work till date?

Kahin Diya Jale Kahin Jiya. The story was mine and hence the sense of belonging was immense. That is the reason I went ahead with it, despite the fact that I was already handling a daily - Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki.

Do you write in Hindi or English?

A mix of both. The language is really not so important because almost everybody I have worked with has been fairly comfortable with both languages.

Who are your favourite directors - who you would want to direct your projects?

On TV, I am fairly comfortable with the directors I am working - Anil V Kumar, Swapna Joshi. If I get to do a film I would want it to be directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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