"Most new writers are not well read" : B M Vyas

A alumnus from the National School of Drama, B M Vyas has experience of more than 15 years writing for film and TV. Also associated with Ekjute theatre, Vyas has written the scripts for Bharat Ek Khoj, Athwan Rang, Circus and now, Aamrapali, the new period epic about to launch on Doordarshan.

Among the Hindi films he has scripted are Ek Aasman Kai Dishayen, Baharon ki Manzil and Kasam Teri Kasam. Excerpts from an interview with indiantelevision.com correspondent, Tuhin Amar.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I came to Mumbai in 1985 with a huge experience in direction and teaching in theatre behind me. I came to become a director, but breaks as a writer came easy. After being a writer for a couple of years, I simply fell in love with it and then stuck to it.

What are the natural instincts required of a successful writer?

The two quintessential pre-requisites required of a successful writer are the ability to perceive and the ability to express. Besides, the writer whose perception and expression are in absolute synergy is the one who is likely to be more effective because many a time there is a huge gap between what people perceive and what they express. Also, a modern day writer needs to be adaptable, yet original. This is what channels demand these days.

Once I had accomplished my task of getting TRPs for Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, I did not feel the motivation or the urge to continue, so I quit the serial.


A still from Aamrapali

Which subjects appeal most to you?

I like subjects dealing with human relations and human emotions.

What factors do you keep in mind before taking up a new project?

I am basically concerned about the subject and how well it goes with my sensibilities.

Have you ever taken up a subject you did not relate with?

Yes, it happened in the case of Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. Actually, both the producer and the channel had a huge stake in the programme. It had been scheduled between two hugely successful programmes - Kaun Banega Crorepati and Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. As such, the TRP expectations or rather targets were very high. Even though I did not relate with the plot I decided to take it up only as a challenge. By the end of 13 episodes, the TRP targets were met and the programme had indeed taken off well. Once I had accomplished my task, I did not feel the motivation or the urge to continue, so I quit the serial.

Why do many veteran writers shy away from writing dialogues?

The basic reason is that they are uncomfortable with Hindi. Besides, effective dialogue writing requires creation of a separate speech for each character depending upon their personality traits and other factors such as the region from where a character hails. This requires far more concentration and hard work compared to writing the screenplay.

Have you come across a situation where you've felt stagnated in your thought process? How have you come out of it?

Yes, it happens. That's why as a matter of habit, I take up the task of developing new concepts and new storylines early in the morning when one is refreshed. Even otherwise, whenever the thought process sags, the best thing to do is forget the story for some time, think about different things and come back to think about the story when one is feeling fresh.

Does writing require isolation from people for purposes of concentration?

Yes. That is very important. That is why I've hired a separate writing room where I spend the day writing in peace.

Have you ever felt hassled by executive producers in channels?

Yes, that's happened and the reason for this is that executive producers lack practical knowledge. I really don't know the criteria on which they are selected but much of their interference stems out of lack of specialised knowledge. But then I've always maintained that one has to learn to adjust to this.

Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
Dialogue writing requires far more concentration and hard work compared to writing the screenplay.


Are there any channel people you've really enjoyed interacting with?

Kamlesh Pandey, Karuna Samtani and Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi are some names I can think of immediately. It was a real pleasure interacting with them.

Do you like to write with a team of writers or do you like to be on your own?

As a matter of habit, I like to write alone but whenever I have written in a team, I have enjoyed the experience as well. See, it's best to work both ways. Working alone gives immense creative freedom. At the same time, by working in a group, one gets an opportunity to interact with other writers and one tends to absorb the better aspects of other people's work.

What are the major failings you observe in new writers?

The new generation wants instant results but is not willing to invest adequately in terms of effort and perseverance. What upsets me about most new writers is that they are not well read. They are under the illusion that by bouncing a couple of good ideas around, they qualify to become good writers. The problem with such writers is that their stocks dry up very fast. Forget sustaining themselves for a few serials, they are normally not able to live up to their promise even in the latter episodes of one serial. I would recommend intensive reading of the work of eminent Indian writers for these so-called writers.

How many serials do you feel you can work on simultaneously, without letting the quality suffer?

Ideally, I would like to do three serials simultaneously but often on TV, things don't happen the way we have planned. So, there have been times when I have worked on five or six projects simultaneously and other times when I've worked on just a single project.

How many re-writes normally go into your final script?

Three to four.

Is it important for a writer to be present on the shoot?

No, I don't think so. I feel that being present on the shoot can unnecessarily distract the actors.

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