Screenwriter-lyricist Jaideep Sahni got his first break in Bollywood with Ram Gopal Varma’s Jungle (2000). Although the film tanked at the box office, he didn’t give up, and his second project, Company (2002), got him noticed. The writer confesses to having never watched Hindi films before that; his only exposure to Bollywood being Hindi songs. But Sahni moved on to earn critical acclaim for his screenplay in Dibakar Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006), Shimit Amin’s Chak De! India (2007) and Rocket Singh (2009). He’s in the news again for his wacky lyrics in Tere Bin Laden.1. In school, I was always torn between science and arts because I couldn’t understand the difference between the two. But CBSE rules didn’t allow me to opt for both, so I took science and later, computer engineering, which combined the two fields. That helped me stay interested in college.
2. Leaving three successful careers, one after another, was scary. But careers work only for people who want to do one thing forever. That scared me more. So I decided to let go of those careers once and for all, with a promise to myself — to live simply but do everything I wanted. That made me free and confident.
3. I didn’t know a lot about films except for the songs, until I came across the screenplay of Gandhi at a bookshop one day. It completely hooked me because finally, I’d seen something which seemed to be both art and science equally. I still wonder what I would have been doing had I not walked into that bookshop that afternoon.
4. Learning screenwriting then was a massive challenge because there were no published screenplays and nothing to learn from. Hindi films were considered terrible, and my friends thought I’d gone mad. But I’d fallen in love with screenwriting by then and kept trying to learn and make my own screenplays and songs and showing them to anybody who had the time.
5. I think the best thing I ever did was to work only with people who I felt I could learn from and was compatible with. So I’ve done fewer films than I could have, but lived each film’s world very intimately. They’ve all been so different from each other. Also, because I didn’t have vast knowledge of film history and genres, I ended up trying new ways of storytelling each time. I made my own mistakes, and that makes me love my work even more.