Sunday, December 28, 2008

Will see you there

New times. New looks. This blog has been shifted to 'Who wrote my screenplay?'

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Script progress

Its said that writing is rewriting. In that case I havent even started writing. I am working at an average of 45- 60 minutes per day on this script tentatively titled 'three' for the last 1 year. I did outlining for about 4 months. When I had an rough order of events from beginning to end I started writing the scenes. I would rough write (in my dictionary, a more thorough kind of outlining of scenes including dialogue) on some days and write the scenes on some other days. Now 60% of scenes are also over. I am not having much of the dreaded '2nd act jitteriness' may be because I have outlined well.
Hoping to finish the first draft by end of january 2009. I am not comfortable with brainstorming a first draft and then doing 10 rewrites. I plan a lot before putting anything on paper and consolidate as I move on. So I don’t think I will have to sweat much in terms of rewrites. May be one or two drafts that’s all. That too the main objective will be to cut down the length and compress it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Is terrorism reversible?

Salman Rushdie responded to the article by Arundhathi Roy here .

His argument regarding the issues paraded by terrorists is this:
''Ask yourself the question that if the Kashmir problem were resolve tomorrow, if Israel-Palestine reached a lasting peace, do we believe that al-Qaeda would disband? Do we believe that Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad would put their guns down and beat them into plough-shears and say we would now be farmers because our job is done.
I mean the point about is that is laughable, right? And the point about that is that that is not their project. Their project is power. This is a power grab by the most obscurantist, revanchist, old-fashioned, medievalist idea of modern culture that attempts to drag the world back into the middle ages at the point of modern weaponry ...''

There is a problem here. Of course the terrorist outfits will not disband because these are solved. But the terrorism will lose its impetus once the Palestine- Kashmir- Iraq- Iran issues are solved. These outfits are headed by madmen who dream about ruling the world. But they are successful in convincing people. As long as these issues are bleeding actively, there will be people ready to be convinced to become suicide bombers. Because its not very difficult to show that some unfair things are happening in these places.
There are hundreds of cults in the world. Many of them advocate mass murder or ethnic cleansing.(Remember the infamous cult in Japan which released poisonous gas in a subway?)
Why suddenly the current terror outfits enjoy a popularity and power that none of these are able to procure? Its because terrorists are able to capitalise on some genuine suffering that has been going on. Even If you are able to remove that, the leaders will go on preaching. But they wont be enjoying the same following any more.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My writing routine

If you really want to have a body of work to show, you need to really write. Its obvious. Every one likes to talk. Browse. Take part in discussions. Comment. Get worked about the lack of quality in our scripts. The real tough thing is to sit and write. There will be lot of ideas. The tricky part is not to lose faith in them while trying to write them. The real problem is our own insecurity whether we can write. I guess we don’t want to face that insecurity. At any cost.
Expert advise for writers is 'write everyday.' regardless of inspiration. But how do you do that? The day job. Friends. Family. Other hobbies. Going out. Late nights. How do one do it?
My answer is 'wake up early.' Early morning you cant bring yourself to waste your time browsing or watching movies. Put an hour to write in the morning. Gradually the habit will be ingrained. And slowly but steadily you will have some work to show the world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quality difference in film scripts in different languages

Originally published
here on

I have heard repeated comparison in Kerala that tamil movies are much ahead of malayalam in terms of script quality. What is the real difference between those two? And how do they compare with current Hindi and Indian english movies?

I think the strength of tamil movies is in their treatment. When you examine theme wise there is not much variation. Most of them (we are talking about main stream movies) deal with criminal heros or a love story told in an unique way. Even if you take a movie like ‘Subramanyapuram’ which was recently acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of 80s you see ‘gone wrong’ criminal heros and a love story. Same with Selvaraghavan- one of my favourite directors. What makes them different is the courage for unconventional endings and unsuspected twists. The protagonists of these movies does not represent the life and concerns of majority of middle class Tamil population. Setting may be close to life but story is not.

When you come to Malayalam first thing you notice is the dearth of classy directors. There is no one now who has a signature in their visual style. As once John Abraham said every director is doing the ’supervising job’ for the script writer. Malayalam has its share of ‘commercial exercises’ like the recent Twenty 20. But in the last month there was another hit movie in Kerala called ‘veruthe oru bhaarya.’ (Roughly translates as ‘a wife of no utility’). Its about a wife who is stuck in menial jobs with no time for herself. So she informs her inconsiderate husband that she is resigning from the ‘house wife’ job (not a divorce - mind you). Movie is about her husband trying to prove that doing house hold jobs is not such a big deal. Needless to say he fails miserably. Such a movie cannot be generalized for presenting the status of scripts in Malayalam. But still theme wise Malayalam movies remain closer to life though in patches and stripes. They fail when they get into desperate comic situations. Of course tailor made stories for the mega stars doesn’t help either.

But I think currently the best scripts are coming out in Hindi. I am not talking about the movies in which you throw in a star and starlet with beautiful locations and 50 crores and you hope to get a blockbuster. I am talking about the so called ‘multiplex’ movies. Movies like Bheja fry, A wednesday, Amir etc has carved out a niche for themselves. They rely on a smarter script rather than star faces. Some times story situations go over the top but usually they get away with taut treatment. The reason these movies are good is that they understand the importance of a good script. You don’t have to cut your story to size to incorporate the image of the star.

I think that’s the message for the regional movies also- especially malayalam. Avoid stars and your writer is free to write a better story.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is Mumbai attack India's Sept.11?

Following the Mumbai attack I am seeing a blind fury against politicians in blogs. If any reaction is too extreme I am skeptical about the utility of the response. Because its going to be short lasting. Before Mumbai attack was everything going fine in India? Terrorist attacks occurred before also. So why we were not in a blogging frenzy in the intervening period?

Blasts in Assam were around 1 month back. Death toll of 66 or more. Why it didn’t evoke such a reaction as now? Because it was local factions so that it doesn’t threaten us? Or because north east has been always a far off frontier for us? May be we are not sure such a place even exists in India.

What all makes Mumbai attack different from previous terrorist attacks? Definitely the scope and organisation. But do we need it to realise that we are not safe ? We know it for decades! Does this ear mark a new era of our intelligence agency like it did for US? I don’t think so. It cant happen just overnight because politicians are very worked up today. Because good intelligence requires painstaking patience and time. It would take years to infiltrate an organisation. In the scenario of hundreds of parallel cells for every 100 attempts you deflect there will be one successful attempt.
Then why doesn’t it happen in US? Definitely at the cost of privacy and human rights. And fat money also. I know I know you are ready to give all that up. But thank god its not going to happen in India just because you are all worked up. Because its going to be a Faustian bargain.
So what can we really do at this juncture? The greatest thing will be not to have knee jerk reactions. Think about it. Did the terrorists really think that after this attack India will abdicate Kashmir? They need to make the moderate muslim population in India feel vulnerable.What they need is some sharp reactions from the right wing so that the recruitment queues to their cells will fatten. So that they don’t have to come in boats from Pakistan to do what they need to do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Do you have a script?

If you are genuinely interested in writing screenplays and have a completed one, check this out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The iron curtain

Some questions hang around uneasily in the aftermath of the Mumbai mayhem. It doesn’t help that we are forced to swallow any information handed over by the officials. There is no option of cross checking.
1) Its said that an attempt of killing 5000 has been foiled. But what exactly has been the plan for the same? Shooting at the crowd and throwing grenades at multiple sites appears to be too wishy washy a plan for doing that.
2) Terrorists held the hotels for at least a day. They are said to have a roomful of RDX. What prevented them from using it?
3) From the account of military it was not a suicidal mission. There was an escape plan involving bargaining with the hostages. Consider the elaborate preparations that had gone in in the form of video coverage including the staff quarters inside the taj hotel. Didn’t a possibility of a military operation cross their minds? Didn’t they have a plan for that? What was the strategy employed by the military to foil such a plan? (Other than storming in disregarding the body count of hostages)
4) It was said at one point that around 6 hostages were killed out of 66 in one hotel during the military operation. What prevented the terrorists from causing a higher casualty among the hostages? That too considering that the military operation was going on for around 1-2 days? Is someone being too boastful regarding the casualties vs saved hostages?

This may not be the right time to be skeptical. But sometimes devil is in the details.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twenty 20

I know, I know. Nothing is a crime if it makes money in the box office.
Poor villains. They have not been able to beat a single superstar in previous movies. What can they do against a handful of them?

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Can you imagine what the feeling will be like if someone is dragging himself on without knowing the latitude and longitude? Not knowing whether one will survive the next storm of uncertainities lurking in the horizon? Awaiting another ambush of pirates of different denominations? Expecting another mutiny from within?
Were you thinking about Christopher Columbus?
Actually I was talking about analysing the statistical data for my doctoral thesis.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quantum of solace

Well well well. Bond seems to have metamorphosised into dirty Harry and Bourne rolled into one. But I am not complaining any more. Only if they would hold the camera steady (neither shaken nor stirred) when he runs amok.
If Bond can turn rogue, scriptwriter can turn anti-imperialist also. Imagine a British foreign minister saying, 'if we don’t do business with villains, we wont have anyone left to do business with' in a Bond movie. In a Bond movie!
And what about CIA operatives agreeing to recognise a despot if he topples the govt. of Bolivia so that they can have a piece of oil? Joke is on the colonial cousins. Agreed. Still Britain and US are supposed to be allies isn't it?
Hey Paul Haggis, before you get too serious about all this I will tell a story that will make a good Bond movie. The ideal Bond movie.
Bond fights against the villain with radioactive eyeballs and titanium toes who owns a beautiful palace in amazon jungle. He is smuggling plutonium for a warhead to destroy the moon so that Jupiter's orbit will be shifted nearer and he can set up a business dynasty in Jupiter. But if Bond has to get to him, the only key is a beautiful girl who is a mistress to an Italian don…
Now figure out the rest. It will be a blockbuster.
And don’t forget to send the check .

Sunday, November 9, 2008

All the director's men

Chatted with a friend today. He is working on a script for RGV right now. I was intrigued to know that most of the writers working for RGV didn’t give a shit about standard teachings about structure and format. Even RGV went in a level of ' what interesting thing can happen next .' That’s all. No plot points, three acts and other mumbo jumbo. I think that may be its hurting him not giving attention to the mumbo jumbo. Look at his recent films. The sarkar series, or the numerous 'darna' variants. Especially the sarkar movies are just strings of events with no discernible order. What I mean is that it is possible to remove half the running time without injuring the basic plot.
What's most grevious about the picture I get about the different movie factories is that writing is done by sidekicks and flattery spewers but not by genuine talent. Funny that still they think putting 2 crore instead of 1 crore in a song or fight sequence will make it a better movie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The question of going abroad

'I don’t want to go abroad because I want to serve my people. I don’t want some other nation to enjoy fruits of my hard earned education.'
'I will never get what I am worthy of here. Unless the bickering beurocrats and self serving politicians stop doing what they are doing what's the use wasting my life?'
I bet you have heard both these arguments in some form in your life. My problem with these arguments is not about the arguments in itself but the usual hypocrisy that accompanies both of it. One may be going abroad because he wants a good quality of life. One may be staying back because he don’t want his life to be too stressful with a rigorous professional life or be away from his relatives. But almost every one ends up with either of the two arguments I stated above . The sad part is that those are not entirely invalid reasons either.
What should be the real reason for going abroad or staying back? Is there a good reason and a bad reason for doing that?
No. But among all the reasons I guess there would be a true reason.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lost time

Got through a sling of seminars and case conferences. Now a presentation coming up in November. Writing has been a little shaky in the last few weeks. Now will make up.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Suicide terrorism

Had a seminar yesterday on suicide terrorism. It was mainly on the question of whether a personality profiling is possible in case of a suicide terrorist. In simple words is it that with the appropriate social, political, economical and personal events and pressures any individual can become a suicide terrorist? Or are there some personality characteristics which predispose a person to transform into one?
There is no good study evidence for either. Obviously a suicide bomber wont go to a psychiatrist to take part in a study before bombing. If he goes to a psychiatrist because he is confused then he is not a suicide bomber and is not worthy of being a study subject.
Still if someone speculates on the subject it is likely that a suicide bomber will be having some personality predispositions. The reason is that there are people with the same ideological fervour with approval for the actions and purpose of a suicide bomber but who is still not a suicide bomber. There will be hundred people who will firmly believe that suicide bombing is the best and the only weapon against a formidable enemy against whom collective force is impossible.
But how many of them would become a suicide bomber? One or two may be. It shows that just believing strongly in suicide bombing is not enough to become a suicide bomber. All of them don’t have tragic personal experiences also. Some of them are professionals having a seemingly normal family life. So it has to be some personality traits.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The dark knight

Its dark for sure. It plays out like a shakespeare tragedy.
Writing a superhero franchise is never easy. Hero has to win in the end. Villain will have to fail. Heroine should still swoon over the hero. There is not much creative freedom. You cannot disturb the status quo. You have to preserve the legend and all associated characters.
But Nolan explores the darkness of the human mind beautifully even between this. Its sad, scary, tragic and brilliant. Nolan will now face the difficulty of making a bigger villain in batman 3 after pushing limits giving life to Joker.
In the end Batman is someone you feel sorry for, not one you want to be. He is prisoner of his own destiny.
As Dent says in the movie,' if a hero survives long enough he becomes a villain.'

Monday, July 14, 2008

Do you have a mental illness?

Prevalence in general population of
Depressive disorders:1-23%
Generalised anxiety disorder:3.5%

Are these people getting the medical help they deserve? Are they even aware that they may be having a problem that is treatable? Or is it the stigma of being mentally ill that keeps them away from a doctor?
If some one doesn’t laugh at a person who has diabetes because of imbalance of insulin why should he laugh at a person who is having schizophrenia because of an imbalance of dopamine in his brain?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Jaane Tu...Ya jaane naa

First of all let me tell you that this movie is fair when compared to all the filth discharged by bollywood in the last few months.(If you think Om shanti om is 'the movie' please don't read further. This is not for you.)
But Abbas Tyrewala screws in terms of consistency of tone of the movie.
1-Is this a light vein college romance which brings a smile to your face and try to tickle your mind's fine threads of emotion?(whatever it means)
2-Is it an over the top comedy (you know the kind where dead people talk in photos and people go to bar on horses) where writer is repeatedly trying to prove that he himself has not taken the story seriously?
3-Is it something that celebrate the spirit of youth?(means that you get a lot of people walking together in songs and there is lot of jump cuts during this- it’s a craze after 'dil chahta hai' you know)
well I don’t know. Because the film maker couldn’t make up his mind. So what he does? He mixes every thing together.
The idiom here is not 'when in doubt do nothing'- its 'when in doubt do everything'. The end result is something that is brilliant in patches. And also horrible in patches.
The best thing to come out of this movie is some fresh acting talent. Rathna patak is brilliant. Manjari Phadnis is nice. Imran khan doesn’t disappoint but will have to be tested in different roles.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Delusion or Overvalued idea?

What is a delusion?
I am talking about strictly psychiatry. As a kind of thought disorder. Not in our common everyday sense of ' I think he has a delusion that he is very important' and so and so.
In psychiatry delusion is defined as ' a firm abnormal unshakable belief held with adequate conviction which is not shared or derived from his socio cultural background'.
Someone saying that aliens inserted a machine in his head is having a delusion.(until X Files reveal with real proof that indeed its happening)
The bold texting is mine. If you remove that clause every one will be having a delusion. But even believers say 'I believe in god', not 'I know there is god'. For that matter atheists also. So I guess deep down its shakable.
There is another concept called 'overvalued idea'. Here the belief in itself is not abnormal but the behaviour related to it is abnormal. The person become so much preoccupied with his belief that it gains precedence over all his daily activities.
A person who says 'we should plant trees for our environment' is not talking abnormally. But when he starts spending all his time and money on this avoiding his family and business it becomes overvalued idea. It in itself is not diagnostic of any psychiatric condition.

Now tell me something about all those people who get into some train to mumbai to become a movie star but has never acted in their life except in front of their mirrors. Or actresses who live on mineral water and vegetables to reach the 'size 0' through out their healthy digestible adult life. Or people who spend all their hard earned bank balance and future credit on buying 'brand'y apparels and expensive cars hoping that it will make up for the ailment of a lack of meaningful respected existence. Or someone ready to kill for money to get a decent booze even if it means that after a day what will be left is a hangover, a bloody knife and an entire life inside four walls . Or all those aspiring professionals who burn their midnight oil hoping for a secure future while world is blooming, withering and preparing for rebirth outside their life proof walls. Or all those who are wallowing in the exhilarating intoxication of hatred towards a country, caste or creed forgetting that the enemy in whose throat your knife is just an accidental, innocent product of a sperm and egg who didn’t even know that they existed let alone the fact that they are going to generate a person with greed and fear and insecurities.

Tell me something about all these people. Are they having a delusion or an overvalued idea?
At least in some cases I am not able to make up my mind.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Amer Fort

Went to Jaipur on a conference. Though I didn’t go much for sight seeing in jaipur one place that made a lasting impression is the Amer Fort. The hotel was very near that we could see the walls of the fort on the hill while we had our food in the restaurant.
One day morning we ventured out there. The lake in front of the fort has been dried up due to the sun. but I can imagine how beautiful it would be the gaze down from the windows of the fort when there is water.
It’s a steep climp. By the time I reached the top I could imagine the hardships for a potential enemy who has to climp up to reach the fort . That also amidst a hail of arrows and rocks. Bullets also I guess.
I was really enchanted by the sheer size of the living quarters. Of course the big halls, the renown sheesh mahal, artistic domes everything was nice and good. But what left me thinking was the no: of chambers in the living quarters.
The whole panorama of life that would have been unfolding in these private quarters' . The relatives of all dimensions who in someway or other related to king living in the royal shade. But who still will be cringing for more, jealous towards those who are edging towards the king's good books. Always desperate to be under the kings umbrella, to be his right hand or may be his left. Or at least be his sandals.
That’s where all the real stories are. History writes about kings who made castles and won wars. But that’s not the real story. Its just a way of recording an event. In the first place the kings doesn’t built castles or win wars. Its done by people who for most part don’t even have names. Let alone kings doesn’t even make decisions to do all this. It is taken by his influential relatives and intelligent courtmen. He is just a rubber stamp. His job is the declaration of inevitabilities.
So when I stood in those dark chambers I thought about all those drama that these walls would have witnessed. Love-hate-jealousy- murder-loneliness… everything. When we stroll and chatter with our cameras may be these stones are thinking about that. That how life changes.
How a human being now cannot imagine that loving someone can be other than about dates, phone numbers, shopping and ego trips. That for someone inside this walls at some times it was about avoiding king's wrath and a noose around your neck. That it was about behaving like you are a stranger to your loved one in front of others. Meeting them in dark corridors. (yeah there are a lot of them in this fort) Uttering every word biting down the fear that you may be discovered any moment.
Still they did it. That’s the interesting part. Still they did it.
In the innermost part of the harem I saw a bathroom. In the centre of the bathroom is a well like bathtub 4 feet in depth and 2 feet breadth and length. There are windows opening into the view of the distant hills. In the accompanying room there is a water reservoir from which obviously water is being brought and poured into the bathtub. When I stood there I could imagine the royal ladies who would be lying in the water, naked, gazing into the hills. The female servants bringing water in pails pouring into the bathtubs.
What would be those ladies thinking about? Will it be about some incompetent husband who is lagging behind in becoming the favourite of the king while some one else is gaining fast? Or about some handsome lord in the court? Or about a belligerent son whose cruelty is becoming a disgusting topic in the food halls?
And what would those servants be thinking about? The beauty of the jewellery lying on top of the pile o f clothes in the corner of the bathroom? The advances of son of the lady? Their starving children down the hill waiting for them to come back?

I don’t know. It makes me sad but the beauty of the whole thing is that I will never know.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why I don’t like the new Bond..

Yeah I know, I am treading into hostile waters. But the truth still remains that after seeing 'Casino Royale' I felt cheated. Because I didn’t go to see a raw, 'rough on the edges' Bond or a gritty tale. I had gone prepared for total suspension of disbelief but what left was total disbelief regarding what has been done.
I am not a great admirer of the 'too much to digest' action like that in 'Die another day'. What I am talking about is character. To be more precise the character of Bond. What I like about about Bond movies is not the 'throw money' action nor the girls nor the 'bigger than world' canvas. Its this myth of a character where there is a hero whose reaction to the most gravest of dangers is dry humor. A person who is bigger than any situation.
One of my favourite scenes is from' Live and let die' where Bond is kept captive by a giant with a metal claw. He takes Bond's trade mark gun and twists into the shape of an horse shoe. Bond accepts the remains of his gun with a smile and puts it in the dust bin gingerly. The scene plays out well. That playfulness is not there in the new Bond. He looks and behaves more like a high school football coach with a bad digestion.
If I wanted to see 'gritty true to life action' I know better places to go than this. The focus was never on the brawns or the testosterone looks earlier. What made Bond special was his fluidity and sophistication who somehow manages to save the world without even suffering a pulled muscle. And of course charm the girls accidently in the process. That happy go lucky charm is missing in the new Bond.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Hemingway did it..

Hemingway once wrote about his father who committed suicide that he can understand him but still cannot accept the act of suicide. One fine morning the same Hemingway put the shot gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. I found it silly when I read about it but now I realise what might have happened to him.
When someone develops depression though you understand the implications of your death as caused by yourself you don’t have much options. You know all your thoughts are biased to the negative side but still cannot help it. Sadness is coming in waves as if towards a frail ship. The ship wants to see the skies but the only thing it can think of is how bad the next wave is going to be. You somehow get a strange enjoyment of brooding on how every body hates you and what a waste your life is. You feel lonely. So you get angry with people and in the end you become lonely. Only thing you are happy about is that you have been proved right in your assumptions about 'badness' of people.
You are not able to sleep. You don’t want to eat anything. Good thing about crying is that you can rest for the next 5 minutes before you start again. You cant work because you cant concentrate. And whats the point anyway?
Death starts to appear like a warm embrace- a kind of solution for all your problems. And your thoughts are programmed to reach this shrine of an idea after a lap of thought about any thing.
If you are aware that all these are occuring due to depression can you come out of it using your sheer will? The answer is 'no'. Atleast not always. Depression is a problem of your affect- that is your sustained emotion. So your cognition may not be always able to influence it though they have a reciprocal relation to each other.
So what do one do in such a situation? Communicate. Seek help. Give vent to your emotions. Write. Trust someone.
I know I know. What you are trying to say is that this is like asking the dog with tooth ache to chew well to get rid of his toothache.
Still it can be tried. Or hope that your family members will pick it up without your saying so.
Its not an accident that suicide is more prevalent among unmarried...

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I liked gattaca because it demonstrates certain scientific facts that I have always noticed regarding diseases. In our age where everything is reduced to genetic basis there are certain things still unaccounted for. Schizophrenia which is supposed to be due to imbalances related to dopamine in our brain is highly correlated with genetic predisposition. But the interesting thing is that among monozygotic twins (ie they are having the same genetic makeup) if one twin is having schizophrenia what do you think is the probability of the other one developing it? It is only 48%.So how is the 52% accounted for? It shows the power of the environmental factors in modifying the illness. If this is the case with illness it is the same case with other things- your character, your drives, your predispositions and your destiny…

’In the not too distant future’, Vincent(Ethan Hawke) according to his genetic makeup is imperfect as he has 99% chance of developing a heart problem by 30 yrs. But that won’t stop him from chasing his dream of becoming a space voyager even if it means faking his genetic identity. But things get complicated when a murder occurs in the centre and there is intense scrutiny. The movie is inspiring in its depiction of the human spirit which raises beyond all limitations that tries to restrict it.Vincent says to his genetically perfect brother after defeating him in swimming - ''you asked me how I did it? I will tell you how I did it. I never saved anything for my swim back..''

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