"Finding a production house which believes in you, is ready to take your script, without completely distorting the story is the number one challenge": scriptwriter Sameer Jain


Chucking up a lucrative job with IBM in the US must not be an easy task. But that's exactly what 28 year old business consultant Sameer Jain is contemplating, once he gets a firm foothold in the quirky world of scripting and eventually, filmmaking.

Jain started on the journey of weaving stories into scripts two years ago, when a friend asked him to help out on a film he was working on. Jain says he got hooked onto the craft once he started developing his own scripts. The passion for the art of scriptwriting has even made him take a brief sabbatical from work and come down to India to tap productions houses and studios, armed with 12 ready scripts. While he is close to tying in deals with some, he has already commenced pre-production on another project, back in the US. In a chat with indiantelevision.com, Jain recounts his experiences in the US and back home:

After working with IBM for three years, how did the writing bug bite you?

Two years ago, I met this friend who was doing a film called Arya. I helped him with some suggestions, helped him write the script and then he was the one who suggested that I had the writer in me, if you will... we did the location scouting.

After that I developed a script of my own, tried to market it in the US, while holding on to my job, Trishna, it's actually something that's made for the US audiences... we were scouting for someone who would make it into a small budget movie of around 200,000 dollars.

Being a newcomer in the industry, it was tough to get a breakthrough. I did manage to get the interest of an Indian actor and a director Raj Basu, who has worked with the likes of Naseeruddin Shah and Deepti Naval. But then, he had some other commitments and Trishna did not see the light of day. By then, I had, along with a friend, developed another script called Windows, and I am right now in Mumbai for the pre-production work on this. We have a financier from the US for this project and are also looking for a co-producer.

While all this was happening, I also started penning scripts, approaching nearly every genre - comedy, thriller, drama, romance - and I have bundled the 12 synopses of the scripts together.

Have you had any formal training in scriptwriting?

I haven't had any formal training in scriptwriting. What did help was software in screenwriting that's available - from screenwriter or Hollywood screenwriter, and I am hooked onto it for writing all my scripts. I did go through a couple of books on the subject, but apart from that, haven't had any other training in the craft.

How do these stories come to you?

A majority of my writing stems from my reading, and I read a lot, be it newspapers, journals or magazines. I would say, of the 12 scripts that I have ready today, nearly eight to nine are inspired, not copied, mind you, by my reading.

What about life experiences? Do these also inspire your writing?

There is one among my scripts, a comedy that has been based on real life, but twisted slightly and modified for the audience.

Is it easy to jump from genre to genre, as a writer? Or does a writer tend to specialise in a particular genre?

I made a conscious decision not to stick to any one genre and be labeled. It's definitely a challenge to be able to write in different genres, and while I don't claim to excel in each, I think I have definitely done justice to them.

Do you also have any television scripts ?

I have developed two scripts for television. But even out of the 12 scripts I have developed, there are two or three that can lend themselves to TV adaptation.

"There's been an explosion on Indian television and to be very honest, I cannot distinguish one show from the other"

What kind of a response do fresh writers face when dealing with Indian production houses?

One needs loads of patience. Still, I think Bollywood in general has opened up to new ideas and a new person has to make a start somewhere.

The refrain here is that there is a dearth of scripting talent...

Oh yes, that's what one keeps hearing. But again, it's a risk going to production houses with a ready script and finding out later that it's been made into a movie, with my name not figuring anywhere!

But your scripts must be registered...

They are, with the Cine Writers' Association, but I hope it means something. As for the US, my scripts are registered with the Writers' Guild of America, where each script is given a separate number to distinguish it from others.

How good are your stories for the Indian context, considering you are based in the US?

Actually, I moved to the US in 1998. I have spent my life thus far in Pune, growing up on a staple diet of Hindi films. So even if two or three of my scripts may be suitable for the international market, the rest of them are tailored for the Bollywood market.

You left India in 1998, when the television sector was just opening up. From a writer's perspective, what difference do you observe in Indian television, then and now?

There's been an explosion, and I think I just missed that. To be very honest, though, I cannot distinguish one show from the other. But what I really like about it is the tremendous opportunity that has been opened up for talented and enthusiastic artistes, directors, producers, writers...

How has your US experience helped in realising your potential as a writer?

I have studied Hollywood movies in depth ever since moving to the US. And since I have been behind the scenes on two projects in the US, that definitely is in my thought processes when I am writing a script. So it is a combination of how to present a story and what the Indian audience expects out of a movie.

Do you think a career shift as drastic as you contemplate would have been as easily accomplished if you had been in India?

There always are those ifs and buts, but if I had not assisted my friend in the making of that movie in the US, possibly I would never have realised my potential as a writer. Working in the US, with IBM, definitely helped to take the plunge. Yet, I am not sure I would have done that if I working here in India.

How ready are production houses in India to accept your scripts in toto?

Finding a production house which believes in you, is ready to take on your script, without completely distorting the story is the number one challenge.

How well would you gel into a system, wherein production houses employ several writers to work on a script for a series and then amalgamate it into a single story? How does it work in the US?

I guess it's okay to brainstorm for ideas but when it comes down to writing, I think a script has to be an individual journey.

In the US, it's mostly a single scriptwriter who approaches a production house, which then takes it up and gets a director to take the project further.

Are the copyright laws much stricter in the US?

Yes, they are. They are followed much more loyally, people are scared of infringing them. All the scripts you see there are original. It's unfortunate, but a lot of movies and TV shows seen here are a copy of western concepts.

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories