Everyone in ‘Bombay’ has a story to tell and many want to use cinema as a medium for the same. And to help six such storytellers compile their tales into one solid, comprehensive, salable and formatted script, names like Anjum Rajabali, Jaideep Sahni and Sreeram Raghavan are coming together.
Asia Society India Centre announced the launch of the New Voices Fellowship for Screenwriters on Wednesday. A part of international studio Time Warner’s philanthropic activities, this fellowship will give six selected screenwriters a chance to be trained and mentored by a panel that consists of Saket Chaudhary, Dev Benegal, Ashwini Malik and Vinay Shukla, apart from the above mentioned.
Between July 11 and August 31, those interested will be required to mail their registered scripts to the Asia Society website. Following this, a filtration process to find the best six will begin. “In a lay person’s language, we just want to help,” says Rajabali, who is currently the head of the department of Screenplay Writing at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). “We just want to assist them in getting the craft right.”
The six selected screenwriters will be paid a stipend of Rs 1 lakh and made to attend two five-day long workshops along with various other members of the industry. “We will look at the script’s cinematic possibilities. The story has to be written with that intention,” adds Rajabali. “Of course, there has to be some amount of craft elements like whether is it a complete story, does it have interesting characters, a plot that’s engaging and much more. The final stage will involve dialogue writing, after which the script will be ready to take out.”
Though the criteria to pick the best stories in a system such as this is obviously hard to pin point, the panel did reveal that they were looking for stories based around interior India. “We have to accept that in the recent past, our films deal with the urban life, love and youth. Where have the villages gone?” asks Rajabali, whose last release was Raajneeti (2010). “Also, everyone must register and copyright their scripts. Whatever the end product will be, will belong entirely to the original writer.” Though there is no promise that the mentors will help sell the script to Bollywood as well, the writers did claim that if they found it worthy, they would personally ensure it gets noticed.