Discussion on film scripts at Mumbai Film Festival

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2010, 19:47 PM IST

Mumbai: After the lively debate on censorship on the second day of the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), the third day Saturday saw a discussion on film scripts and their creative evolution.

The panel for the event, chaired by Atul Tiwari, included Shama Zaidi, Chetan Bhagat, Piyush Mishra, Deepa Gahlot and Romanian filmmaker Florin Serban.

Novelist Chetan Bhagat highlighted the difference between writing a book and a script. "Book is an author`s game, while film is not," he said.

He highlighted the changes that during the adaptation of his book for ‘3 Idiots’. "The character played by Madhavan in the film gets the girl in the book, but that wouldn`t make sense for the film. I myself wouldn`t watch that film," he said.

One of India`s most successful scriptwriters, the reclusive Shama Zaidi, explained how changes come about even for those who tightly control their scripts.

Even Satyajit Ray had to leave the script of ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ in the hands of Shama and Javed Siddique, because the two knew about the milleu and the culture in which the film was based.

But how much time and how many re-drafts does it take?

Piyush Mishra gave a lively example of his friends and collaborators in the industry.

"Anurag Kashyap takes 10 days for the first draft, but after that it would undergo 40 revisions. Vishal Bharadwaj, once his script is ready, does not even allow simple improvising. In the film `Maatrubhoomi` in which I acted, dialogues were written during the shooting. Everyone has his own approach, but my contention is that the main script is always written by one. The others merely act as fillers."

Deepa Gahlot explained how her first experience of writing for films had left her disillusioned, "There were so many changes till the end that the final film was not what I had written. It made me wonder, what is the job of a writer in such a process?"

Taking a gentle jibe at Deepa, Chetan Bhagat said, "I learnt early on that if I want to do films, I have to learn to let go. Otherwise my health would suffer. And changes naturally occur. Milk changes when turned to curd."

Moderator Atul Tiwari tried to rake up a little controversy by asking Piyush on the changes in his script of ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’. Piyush bit the bullet and informed the audience of the multiple changes that were made to his original script, completely changing it in the end.

Shama dropped a salvo when someone asked her why despite writing some great scripts, she never turned director.

"In those days it was very difficult to make films for women as you had to sit and drink with producers," she said.

IANS