Winning the Filmfare this year for best screenplay (Paan Singh Tomar), Sanjay Chauhan has established that the hero-obsessed audience has started acknowledging a film for its script. And he has proved this with his repertoire of successful movies I am Kalam, Saheb Biwi aur Gangster and Maine Gandhi Ko nahin Maara. The master storyteller Chauhan speaks to Niharika about the nitty-gritties of story writing for films
Script or Stars
Stars will attract, they can pull people to the cinema hall. Who will bind them for three hours? It’s the script. Remember Ghajini? It enthralled me, I was so thrilled… whole time during the film I was trying to figure out, what’s next? This is what a good story does to you. Even as it was Amir Khan starrer, the script has created magic. In India, we have a tendency of categorising cinema, the intellectual cinema and the entertaining cinema. Intellectual is boring. Now we have entered a phase, where we have found the mid way - an authentic story with entertainment. A scriptwriter’s success lies in it.
It’s the new genre. The success of movies like I am Kalam, Gangs of Wasseypur are forcing even the popular filmmakers to invest in a good script.
A good story
Don’t ask me what are the ingredients of a good story. It’s not like cooking Rogan Josh (laughs) that every time you will put the right ingredients, you will get a hit, neither is it like rocket science. It is rather a paradox of simplicity and complexity. Simple enough to relate and complex enough to hit your mind and soul, to stir you.
On commercial success
Idealism in one thing, we are living in a real world. Bhukhe pet bhajan na hoi. Cinema is not pure art. We need commercial success of the film. We need films like Rowdy Rathore, it entertains audience. And mind you, it is not easy to write films like Rowdy Rathore. Even serious filmmakers want a hit film because you want to be appreciated, you want success and money.
I am Kalam & Pan Singh Tomar
I am very happy that these films were greeted with much acclaim last year. These have been adjudged by critics as successful examples of a profoundly intricate film.
Bollywood is in the throes of another transformation. Be it Kahani or Vicky donor these films got the grab. If you will do good work, you will be noticed.
On film writing
Of course, we have the freedom to write as our conscience dictates, it should be understood that the story goes through transformation, it changes, it evolves. The director has his his own vision of the story. Most of the time an actor wants to listen the story from a director, to know his vision.
My next film is Nila Madhab Panda’s Love Is Not Mathematics. This is an urban youth film, story of three young men who set deal with major questions on life and love. For more, wait till it releases.I am also working on a biopic that I can’t reveal now.
On young writers
These days, young writers are apprehensive of working in light films. They come with baggage of judgments. My advice to them is don’t judge things when you don’t know about it. Rather than being critical about every aspect, try to see the beauty. Try to learn.
Look at things around, there are stories everywhere, scattered. If you will be open to things, you will learn from others, and from life.