Screenwriting is considered to be the backbone of a film. It is also believed that it is an art form that is in decline in India. Or is it? An open forum held at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival to discuss the same saw some interesting fireworks, specially from celebrated screenwriter Abbas Tyrewala.
“Sorry, but I am not optimistic at all. I think we are f*****. There’s no dearth of writers in India, but there’s a great lack of writing that has the life and smell of this nation,” said Tyrewala.
He dug into the root of this decline. “Before the 60s, we were telling stories. Problem started during the Bachchan era. Amitabh Bachchan’s persona started towering over everything. Suddenly it was okay to not have a story as long as you had him since people were in awe of him and you could recover money,” he said.
Tyrewala believes that even when Bachchan took a sabbatical from films, producers devised new tricks of having multi-star films to compensate for the same. “In the 90s, someone suddenly discovered the NRI market. A film could recover its entire money with just its music, satellite rights and overseas market. Where was the need for a story and thus a good writer,” he rued.
Despite playing the role of a doomsday prophet, Tyrewala was sympathetic to the producer community. “It is easy for writers to make scapegoats out of producers. In reality, producers have a lot of guts. They risk everything.”
The screenwriter elicited a lot of response when he said: “Perhaps it is the biggest lie that audiences are smarter. The truth is that maybe they have become stupider. And maybe they are getting what they want and deserve.” However,, his other panel members were more optimistic.
Filmmaker Dev Benegal said: “I am positive because change is happening. And though most Indie films are bad copies of European cinema, ultimately we will find our own cinematic voices.”
Actor Saurabh Shukla said: “Instead of feeling that you are beaten, just write. Better yourself.”