A war over words – that’s what it is between Bollywood directors and scriptwriters! Directors, tired of complaining about lack of good scriptwriters, are readily picking up the pen to script their own films, while scriptwriters crib about lack of opportunity and inadequate pay.
Directors like Aditya Chopra, Prakash Jha, Karan Johar, Ashutosh Gowariker, Imtiaz Ali and Farhan Akhtar are some of the directors who prefer writing their own scripts.
Adman-turned-movie director Abhinay Deo, who has helmed films like “Game” and the yet to release “Delhi Belly” – both based on someone else’s story, notes that the reason for directors to write is “a dearth of good writers”.
“The fact is that because of the dearth of writers, directors are taking to writing, and that is not the healthiest of things for the industry. But I won’t deny there are some directors like Ashutosh Gowariker, Rensil D’Silva, Mani Ratnam, who are fantastic at writing,” Deo said.
If Deo blames the lack of writing talent in the country, other directors feel they can do complete justice to their film only when they write and direct it themselves.
“There are good scriptwriters in India…but they don’t take time and don’t work hard,” says acclaimed filmmaker Prakash Jha, known for his realistic treatment in films like “Damul”, “Gangaajal”, “Apaharan” and “Raajneeti”.
“For the kind of cinema I make, for the kind of observations that I have to make, the kind of people I meet, the way I store knowledge and information, I think I’m the only guy who can write my stories. If a writer’s script comes to me, I will definitely see it. But I am a little different in my style of filmmaking. I’ve already started work on films that I might make seven years later, so which writer will I be able to get?” he added.
Kunal Kohli, who often writes his scripts, yearns to direct someone else’s story, but so far he hasn’t come across anything intersting.
“Why do we directors have to write our own scripts? Adi (Aditya Chopra), Karan (Johar), Imtiaz (Ali), Farhan (Akhtar), me – we all write ourselves. Wish I could read many and choose one. I want a ready script I can just shoot. Like the ones Salim-Javed used to write. Perfect screenplays. Kahaan hai (Where are they)?” Kohli once posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Even Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan has felt a lack of quality writing in the Hindi film industry in recent times.
“I personally feel that the same kind of writing is not happening as it used to in the past. I just feel that content is not as poetic or lyrical. Some of the language has the use of expletives,” Amitabh said.
But scriptwriters have a different story to tell.
According to industry estimates, a new scriptwriter’s pay would start Rs.500,000 and for experienced writers, it can go up to Rs.4 million-Rs.5 million. But that’s not comparable to the amount that producers shell out for the shooting, the stars, or even the publicity these days.
“Filmmakers often compare Indian writers with those in Hollywood. But they need to understand that the ball game is different here. The roles of scriptwriters are earmarked abroad. But in India, roles are not clear, the pay scale is not up to the mark, and credit becomes an issue sometimes…so it is unfair to compare,” said Kanika Dhillon, who has contributed her writing talent to films like “Billu” and Shah Rukh Khan’s much-awaited “RA.One”.
Even if writers have good ideas, it is a problem for newcomers to reach producers, directors and actors.
Said Vikramaditya Motwane, who scripted “Udaan”: “Once the script was done, I had a tough time finding someone to produce the film. Many producers came and went, but nobody was ready to commit to the film.”
Filmmaker Rajkumar Gupta, who has made films like “Aamir” and “No One Killed Jessica”, said: “Biggest hindrance for any scriptwriter is to convince a director and an actor.”
Dhillon feels “India does not lack writing talent. We lack the right backing and support.” (IANS)