The spell of pandemic spills over to writing

Covid2019 has changed the way writers churn out scripts

MUMBAI: Will the Covid2019 pandemic have a direct bearing on the way TV and film script writers churn out their scripts? Now that the Maharashtra government has allowed conditional resumption of film, television, OTT shoots, how are the writers faring? spoke to a few scriptwriters from the film and television industry to get answers to these questions.

Even if shooting begins, the plotline will have to go for a change; it is not going to be the same as before. Writers face the twin challenges of creating something refreshing that connects with the audiences all the while keeping in mind the numerous restrictions that have been implemented.

While some script writers want to reflect the current pandemic situation in their writings, a tiny minority feels that it is not necessary to always showcase the reality. And one thing everyone agrees is the role technology will play in the narratives.

According to Screenwriter Association president Robin Bhatt, many stories can be created keeping in mind the guidelines laid down by the government. With the help of technology, action scenes can also be choreographed. A lot of film scripts have already been written which don’t require any changes, but in the coming days writers will avoid writing crowd scenes or stories where SOP is compromised, he said.

In future, he says, technology is going to play a major part in cinema. He has already finished one show which is highly technological in nature, with a lot of graphics and animation. Bhatt is currently excited to begin the shoot of Sanjay Gupta’s much-awaited movie Bombay Saga starring John Abraham. Bhatt, who is the writer of the film, says that most of the editing, background score, sound design as well as VFX had started much before the lockdown. As of now, he has not received any directions from Sanjay Gupta to make amendments in the script.

He adds, “The current pandemic scenario will definitely reflect in my writing because the entire world has changed. The same old narratives of how couples fall in love, tragedy or drama will change. Currently, it is a wait-and-watch situation.”

Writer-producer Zaman Habib says that until and unless the country emerges out of the risk of the pandemic, there will be changes in scriptwriting accordingly. Scenes with huge crowds or many characters will be avoided. Habib is currently a story consultant for the Star Plus’ show Yeh Rishtey Pyaar Ke.

Habib points out that the advantage of being a writer is that it is not necessary to be present on sets. A lot of freelance writers, who have left for their hometowns, continue their work through video conferencing and similar apps. “In television, we don’t participate in day-to-day works. So it is not bad for writers but there is going to be a major change on the floor while shooting.”

According to him, television shows are divorced from reality. But, now writers, producers and broadcasters will want to put the reality out there.

“There are many people who want to shut off their emotions and have lighter moments. But when we write we create different characters with different emotions. So, one just cannot shy away from the reality or what is happening around us,” he added.

Writer of Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, The Dirty Picture, Kick, Gabbar Is Back and Taxi No. 9211, Rajat Arora said that as of now he has not made any changes in his scripts.

“As we move forward, only then we will understand what can be executed and what cannot. So, as the shooting begins, we will see if any changes in the script are required. There are certain things which cannot be done while filming as per the current guidelines. But it is just a small part. At the end, safety of our people is of utmost importance.”

Currently, he is busy working for Ahan Shetty’s debut film. The project is backed by Sajid Nadiadwala. He is also doing the pending work of Jayalalitha biopic  starring Kangana Ranaut.

Contrary to what other writers said, Arora feels that the current pandemic is so terrible that he doesn't want to show this situation in his writing. “I think no one wants to be reminded of a pandemic. I personally don’t want to dwell on it. Dystopian shows are now today's reality. So, we don’t want to face reality or may watch it on screen.”

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