Prasoon Joshi needs no introduction. This ad guru and noted lyricist, who is always in news for his works, is now soaking up all the limelight after Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (BMB) hit the screen. Recently in the city, during the Bangalore Literature Festival, he showered his world through his perspective of filmmaking and treating each character with a passion that not many can match.
The lyricist who turned scriptwriter for BMB feels that the transition has been quite smooth, "I am a part of the advertising industry and many filmmakers have transitioned from advertising, including Rakesh Omprakash Mehra (director of BMB). So I was familiar about how it works. I had to read up a lot on Milkhaji's life, I had to read up a lot about sports. And the Partition is something that has always interested me and also Sadat Hassan Manto, who has written on the topic and the influence of whose work you can see in mine," says Joshi, who has previously written lyrics for films like Fanaa, Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, Black and Delhi 6. With Rang De Basanti he turned a dialogue writer.
Joshi is very particular about the kind of scripts he picks up and according to him, he has to feel excited about the idea, the subject. "Thumb rule of creativity is that you need to be excited about a project. I would never write a film that doesn't allow for self expression. It took me two and a half years to write the script for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, not once did I think of shelving it only because I was excited about the subject. Somewhere everyone of us identify with the struggle of Milkha Singh.” he says.
The writer claims to have quite the psychoanalytical approach to life, always observing people and studying their behaviour. "I think that's how I'm built. I have a very poetic approach. Even when it comes to films, I have a poetic approach. Had someone else penned BMB, I'm sure the script would have been very different. For example, when Milkha Singh looks back, I started wondering what was going on in his head, whether his past was calling him back. He has clarified this a long time ago, that he was simply looking back. But that's how a poet has to think. Look beyond the obvious. Whether you choose to call it psychoanalytical, introspective or something else, that's a poet's approach to life," explains Joshi.
According to Joshi, the film landscape is always going to be changing. "Literature can still stay in suspension. Some films acquire a literary quality and they become literature. But most films just reflect the realities of present culture, just like the folk songs, dance or art culture. Films will change with time and I think we have a long way to go, especially since the quality of literature has dropped over the years. Literary greats like Prem Chand, Bimal Mitra, etc. who wrote extensively, their work used to get translated into films, and that made for great cinema. We don't have works like those anymore," he elucidates.
But what about the new media? Will that change how future generations consume films or art? "Social media is not here to kill art, definitely. It’s only there to propagate it. There are a lot of distractions of course and cinema’s role in life is evolving slowly. There are many more ways to express creativity today. Earlier people wanted to make ad films, now people want to design apps or games. But I believe that cinema will always be there even though it’s a complex landscape now," he says.