The fate of the Hindi film writer


Forget islands and flats, most Hindi film writers cannot even afford a snug suburban existence, even after years of sweating it out. (Open Magazine)

ZanjeerA clear sunny day. Anjum Rajabali, whose screen credits read such politically-conscious films as Drohkaal, Raajneeti and Satyagrahaamong others, is slouched over the sofa. He shuts his Mac and starts off with the Zanjeer dispute. Calling it a “tricky” case, he says, “Salim-Javed showed tremendous integrity and insisted on a legal route. If they had won, it would have become a landmark case. Unfortunately, it did not quite work out that way.”

Rajabali feels the Zanjeer imbroglio, both the obstacles it had to face and its poor response, turns the spotlight on the contentious questions of copyright in Hindi cinema and the very wisdom of remakes. “When you create something original, by the law of natural justice and logic, it is yours,” says Rajabali, who, under Javed Akhtar’s guardianship, has been at the forefront of the movement that seeks recognition for writers.

He bridles at the ignorance of writers on how copyright works. Some don’t even know what it means. Ordinarily, he says, copyright ought to operate this way: “Anybody who wants a piece of work written by somebody else needs to take the creator’s permission. You have to pay the person because when a producer is taking somebody’s work, he is monetising it. So long as he pays up, it’s a fair deal. The writer is happy, the producer is happy and everything is fine.”

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