Category Archives: Screenwriting

The Sacrifice: The Script takes a dark twist with a hooded, mysterious Shishir Sharma

By Gargi Vachaknavi

IMG_0689A private viewing of a film?

That sounds exclusive and enticing… made one feel like a star. But it was just a start — a start to showcase what a small group of talented individuals can do.

The idea for the fourteen-and-a-half-minute film brewed over a cup of coffee where writer Tanuj Khosla shared his story with actress Renita Kapoor. Kapoor said she always wanted to play a dark character and the story offered that.

Set in an indeterminate interior, in this case Kapoor’s house in Singapore, the film mapped the life of a stand-up comedian couple in India (and there is no way to figure out where the locale is if it is all within a room). We know the country because the dialogues mention the fact that the husband is a top comedian in India. The movie is mainly conversation between the couple — in a mix of colloquial Hindi with a smattering of English — the way any person would in a well-to do Hindi speaking Indian home.

The story takes a strange twist.

The wife is Kapoor. And the husband? The husband is no less than actor Shishir Sharma, a well-known actor on stage, television and Bollywood in India.

For fifteen minutes, no one spoke. No one moved. And all eyes were glued to the screen that told a gripping tale with a strange twist at the end.

Zafar Anjum, the founder of Kitaab and Filmwallas made his grand debut as a director of this film – The Sacrifice. Why would Zafar Anjum — a writer with a number of books under his belt and some published by Penguin — move to direction and filmmaking? Read more

The Clarion Call of a Broken Pillar: Nabendu Ghosh and the Quit India Movement

Translated by Mitali Chakravarty, excerpted and edited by Ratnottama Sengupta from Nabendu Ghosh’s autobiography, Eka Naukar Jatri/ Journey of a Lonesome Boat.

India Independence Day Special

In April 1942, our independence movement took on a new vigour. That month, Mahatma Gandhi in his article in the magazine, Harijan, demanded the Imperial government grant India a ‘sovereign’ status and withdraw peacefully. On 7th August, when the All India Congress Committee convened in Bombay, they decided to launch the ‘Quit India’ movement, forcing the colonials to leave India without resorting to violence. When on 9th August all the leaders including Gandhi were arrested, Indians were inflamed with outrage and anger.

On 11th August, while I was sorting letters in the office of the AIG-Police, I could hear distant strains of “Van-de-ey Maa-ta-ram! I bow to thee O Mother”; “Bharat mata ki jai— Victory to Mother India” and “May the British rule perish”.  When I went to the teak-floored verandah to check what the commotion was about, I saw a crowd of people raising these slogans as they marched off the main road towards the entrance gate of the Secretariat. Many carried the tri-coloured flag of the Congress and some held banners that read “British, Quit India”.

Vande mataram… British leave India” — the chant drew nearer. Two constables ran forward to shut the gates, but the demonstrators pushed past them into the main compound of the Secretariat. Read more

Writing Matters: In Conversation with Ratnottama Sengupta (Part 2)

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Ratnottama with her Lifetime Achievement Award at the Indywood Festival, December 2017

This is the second part of the interview with Ratnottama Sengupta, national award winning journalist, writer and filmmaker, an exclusive, where she talks of not only legends like Meena Kumari and Utpal Dutta but also takes us on a journey of cinematic history and discusses the impact of social media on cinema along with more about translated books of Nabendu Ghosh.

A quick recap of the earlier interview  leads us into the world of glittering Bollywood where the former Arts Editor of The Times of India, Ratnottama Sengupta, spent her formative years to emerge as a writer and filmmaker; her childhood amidst legendary stars; her observation as a curator of exhibitions which bring out the hidden voices of less known languages, art forms; her experiences as a biographer, author and translator.

Reader Ramashish Roy writes on our website: “Many thanks to ‘Kitaab’ for publishing this interview which portrays commendable work done by her( Ratnottama Sengupta) and most importantly it also depicts the nuances of the unforgettable golden era of Classical Hindi Cinema. Will eagerly wait for the next episode of this interview.”

Reader Antara Mondal writes: “Simply brilliant! Excellent and expansive interview…Loved the elaborate answers. Looking forward to Part 2 eagerly.”

Please enjoy the concluding part of Ratnottama Sengupta’s interview with Team Kitaab.

 

Part 2

Team Kitaab: Your father, Nabendu Ghosh, other than being an eminent scriptwriter, was a well-known Bengali writer.  Do you agree the he is a master storyteller with his pen on the pulse of the need for social, economic and political reforms? Can you tell us a little more about how relevant are the stories that you are translating to the current socio-political set up?

Ratnottama: In other words, the social, political and economic relevance of Nabendu Ghosh’s writings more than half a century after they were crafted.

Baba never let me do anything on his behalf, to ‘promote’ him. He’d say, “As long as I am there, you don’t worry about my writing. You concentrate on yours.” And by God’s grace, he lived to write till the ripe age of 90. But since he was in Bombay after 1951, and writing amid people who didn’t know Bengali, he came to be better known as a screen writer. Within a year of going to Bombay, Baba had taken a conscious decision to write screenplays on the stories and novels of other writers — if they had cinematic possibilities. For, celluloid lives only when it beams dreams and dramas of jubilation on a larger-than-life canvas. And since literature for him was ‘pointing fingers’ he continued to write about deprivations, injustices, inequities.

When I took to translating his stories, I was amazed at the wealth of social, historical, and economic documentation contained in them especially about the 1940s, which are the founding years of the nation. “Learn from those you admire but write from life around you,” his father had said to him when he started writing as a schoolboy. And he did just that and became the voice of 1940s. Quit India movement, riots before and post Partition, the Bengal Famine, these realities we more or less know about. But the rationing of clothes during WW2, the tribals’ fight for fishing rights in the wetlands of Chalan Beel now in Bangladesh, the thugees, the price paid by industrialisation in terms of family values, the corruption of morals in political life, the flights of science and the weakening of faith are some of the issues he addresses. Frankly I did not know so much wealth was lying to be tapped. And once I chanced upon it, I could guide a student of Banaras Hindu University who has just claimed a Doctorate for his work on “Contemporary Politics and the novels of Nabendu Ghosh”. Read more

The Genius of Munshi Premchand

 

Munshi Premchand(1880-1936), born as Dhanpat Rai Shrivastav, was one of the foremost Hindi writers of the early twentieth century. He has to his credit more than three hundred short stories, fourteen novels, many more essays, letters translations and plays and even a film script.

His short story Shatranj ke Khiladi was made into an award winning film by Satyajit Ray as were a number of his other works by noted directors, like Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

With his reformatory zeal and an ability to create empathetic overtones, Premchand was a prominent writer in Hindi who was appreciated more after his death than before. Writes David Rubin, late translator and scholar, in The World of Premchand (Oxford, 2001): “To Premchand belongs the distinction of creating the genre of the serious short story—and the serious novel as well—in both Hindi and Urdu. Virtually single-handed he lifted fiction in these languages from a quagmire of aimless romantic chronicles to a high level of realistic narrative comparable to European fiction of the time; and in both languages, he has, in addition, remained an unsurpassed master.” Interestingly, Rubin taught for a number of years in Allahabad and Rajasthan Universities in India and is also known to have translated not only Premchand but also another very well-known Hindi poet, Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’. Read more

More Gems from Satyajit Ray

 

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Some books by Satyajit Ray that have been  translated from Bengali to English

Five unpublished creations of the acclaimed maestro Satyajit Ray will be brought to light next year by Penguin.

The much acclaimed and awarded film-maker, screenwriter, author, lyricist, music composer and graphic artist, has been the sole recipient from India of an honorary Academy Award (Oscar) in “recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world”  (1991).

With recognition streaming in from across the world, including an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, Satyajit Ray has been a multi-faceted persona in the world of literature and films. Many of us grew up with his unique stories, in Bengali or translated, long or short, some bordering on science fiction, some on mysteries and some on political and social drama. A report in The Hindu  tells us more about his forthcoming publications.

Please read on…

 

 

 

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Call for an Anthology of Singaporean Short Film Screenplays

Filmwallas.com and the Screenwriters Association (Singapore) are calling in for The Singapore Short List 2017 – an Anthology of Singaporean Short Film Screenplays.

The theme of the short screenplay is ‘Race’. Participants are to submit their short screenplay based on their interpretation before 31st May 2017.

12 screenplays will be shortlisted, and published in The Singapore Short List 2017. Once the anthology is published, a further competition will be announced for directors and producers to turn the shortlisted screenplays into finished short films.

How to participate:

  1. Set up a profile at www.filmwallas.com (click on the sign up button on the top right of the homepage)
  2. Download this Registration form, fill it up and email it to info@filmwallas.com with the subject line: SINGAPORE SHORT LIST – before 31 May 2017
  3. Make a payment of S$20 per entry at http://bit.ly/2osx8R8

Note:

  • Entry is open to any Singaporean or resident of Singapore
  • Entry is free for members of the Screenwriters Association
  • Entry fee is S$20 per submission for all other entrants. Multiple entries are accepted. Each entry allows you to receive a complimentary copy of the published anthology.
  • Submission deadline is midnight on 31 May 2017
  • Scripts must be between 5 and 15 pages, in standard industry screenplay format
  • Selections will be made by a jury appointed by the Screenwriters Association committee and their decision is final.
  • The shortlisted 12 will be announced in June/July 2017
  • The anthology will be published in late September/October 2017.
  • Kitaab will retain the right to publish all submitted works in first and subsequent prints.
  • Royalties will be paid to all shortlisted writers on 2nd and subsequent prints.
  • The screenplays will remain the Intellectual Property of the individual writers.

For more details: http://filmwallas.com/contest/screenwriters

 

Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak to become a novel, to be launched in Singapore in June

Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak has been adapted into a novel by award-winning children’s author, Anushka Ravishankar

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Award-winning Indian filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, who is known for heartwarming films like Iqbal (2005) and Aashayein (2010), is coming to Singapore to release his new children’s film, Dhanak. The movie, which has received international appreciation at film festivals, has been adapted into a novel by award-winning children’s author, Anushka Ravishankar, published by Duckbill Books.

This book has the distinction to be India’s first children’s movie novelisation.

Dhanak is the emotional story of a 10-year-old girl Pari, who travels across Rajasthan with her blind brother, 8, to fulfil her promise to him that he will be able to see before his next birthday. Her plan is to rope-in her real-life hero, Shah Rukh Khan. Will her plans work?

Dhanak will be released in Singapore on June 10 followed by a book launch on June 11.

Dhanak has been written and directed by Nagesh, and stars Krrish Chhabria and Hetal Gada in the lead.

Read More

India: ‘Peepli Live’ scriptwriter Mahmood Farooqui arrested for rape

Co-director of Peepli (Live),  Mahmood Farooqui,  has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a US-based woman around three months ago.

The woman, a 30-year-old research scholar of Indian origin, approached the Delhi Police along with a senior official of the US Embassy on Friday to file an FIR. Farooqui was called in for questioning on Saturday, and was subsequently arrested and produced in court, which sent him to 14 days judicial custody.

The woman has recorded her statement under Section 164 CrPC before a magistrate. Read more

Page to screen: Tabish Khair’s ‘How to fight Islamic terror from a missionary position’ to be made into a film

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

Forfatteren Tabish Khair bor i Danmark og underviser pΠAarhus Universitet

One has to be cautious when it comes to announcements of books being adapted into films. A book might get optioned for film, announcements might get made but the making of a real film rarely follows them. Mohsin Hamid was lucky in getting Mira Nair to make a film out of his novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. So was Jhumpa Lahiri—Nair made a film version of her novel, The Namesake. But even Salman Rushdie had to wait for nearly 30 years before his most famous novel, Midnight Children, was adapted for screen. After many false starts, the film was finally made by Deepa Mehta and released in 2012. Similarly, a film is planned for Amitav’s Ghosh’s The Sea of Poppies (its screenplay is ready), and when Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger won the Booker Prize, a film was announced—apparently, Farrukh Dhondy was to write the screenplay. However, there is no news on both these films. Read more

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