Britain-based novelist and scriptwriter Farrukh Dhondy has been roped in to pen a Bollywood thriller for Parvez Damania's newly launched production company and says it won't be a typical masala film because that is not his cup of tea.
"Indians want a particular sort of entertainment. They are not concerned about the portrayal of reality. Most Indian characters emerge out of fantasies. If you look at Bollywood romances - boys and girls change clothes every two minutes and dance around in scenic places, where a normal Indian cannot go," said Dhondy who flies down to India every now and then.
"In English movies you look at life as it is and present it on screen in the same manner. In Bollywood reality goes out of window. And I cannot write a formal film. A normal Bollywood film is beyond me," Dhondy told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.
He has written several books, including the novels Black Swan and The Siege of Babylon and a short story collection East End at Your Feet, stage plays like Kipling Sahib and the BBC television serial King of the Ghetto. He was the commissioning editor of Britain's Channel Four before he moved on to writing for movies.
The 60-plus Dhondy has scripted movies like Mangal Pandey - The Rising, Kisna, American Daylights, Perizaad and the Malcolm MCdowell starrer EXITZ, Take 3 Girls and a host of other movies. He was also associated with Shekhar Kapur's Bandit Queen.
He says the thriller for Damania's One More Thought Entertainment will reflect his writing skills and to some extent the audience's demand too.
"The script will showcase my writing skills and, while writing, I will try to keep the public demand in mind. The plot has to be intriguing enough because we are aiming to cast big stars for the movie."
Asked about the relative importance of screenwriters in Hollywood and Bollywood, Dhondy said: "Be it India or abroad, they say scriptwriters are important people. But it is just lip service. Respect for writers is low.
"But, comparatively, Indian writers are in a bad situation because in England and Hollywood, you have a standard contract and they are paid standard fee. But in India they don't get paid at all. They really don't care about writers."
Among the Indian scripts, Dhondy liked Abbas Tyrewala's screenplay in Maqbool, Raju Hirani's Munnabhai M.B.B.S and Lage Raho Munna Bhai, and Jaideep Sahni Chak De! India.
"I really enjoyed Chak De! India! I liked what people were saying in the movie. I am not a very sentimental person, but when I saw the scene where the Indian women hockey team players come to a party dressed in 'saris', it really made me proud. I thought the writer had got the correct moments," Dhondy said.
Currently Dhondy is scripting the Mahabharata for STAR Plus and says it is the modern version of the epic and he is trying to explain the reason behind every action.
"I'm not looking for mythological motivation. I am looking for human motivation. I will try to explain every action - for instance why Hidimba gave the keys to Bhim to kill her brother. In normal circumstances, no girl will allow her husband or fiancé to kill her brother. There are 20 such puzzles in the epic and all of them have to be solved.
"In short, it will be a modern Mahabharata and we will use simple Hindi. The other important thing will be the use of modern television technology, graphics and animations."
Apart from this he also has three films to script, which include Deepa Mehta's Carpet Boy and a French co-production to be shot in India titled Coffin Maker under the banner of Dhondy's company, Lucid Pictures.
"Carpet Boy is about slave labour in Pakistan, but nothing is finalised yet," Dhondy said.