What! Third column on a book? Yes, for the first time in eight years of writing this weekly column, I have chosen to do it. That’s because Anubha Yadav’s revelatory book, Scripting Bollywood: Candid Conversations with Women Who Write Hindi Cinema, combines three of my greatest lifelong passions—film, women’s perspectives, and writing. Yadav wrote 14 female Hindi film writers – Shama Zaidi, Sai Paranjpe, Juhi Chaturvedi, Honey Irani, Sooni Taraporewala, Tanuja Chandra, Sabrina Dhawan, Kamna Chandra, Kalpana Lajmi, Urmi Juvekar, Bhavani Iyer, Shibani Bathija, Devika Bhagat and Samyukta. Chawla has been interviewed. Shaikh, a collaborator of Kali for Women, Rs 675 for the book published by Women Unlimited.
Writer-director Sooni Taraporevala (Salaam Bombay! Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Yeh Ballet) is an Academy (Oscar) member. She supported herself by working as a cocktail waitress and even as a security guard, while studying film and photography at Harvard. His first film script for Salaam Bombay! Directed by Mira Nair, won an Oscar nomination and won the Camera d’Or at Cannes. One of his mantras for good dialogue is good research: While researching for Mississippi Spice, he traveled to the American South, went to Africa, returned to Mississippi, and then wrote the dialogues.
Writer Sabrina Dhawan’s (Monsoon Wedding, Kaminey, Ishqiya) debut screenplay, Monsoon Wedding, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for director-producer Mira Nair. Growing up in Delhi, Dhawan is a professor and head of screenwriting at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts in New York. In Monsoon Wedding, “The niece, Rhea, played by Shefali Shah, is based on me, and the revelation about sexual abuse is autobiographical. Although, I did not find the happy ending shown in the film, I think it was through fiction. It was my way of coping with… writing about it helped me take my power back,” she says.
Commenting on the feminine vision, she says: “The female characters in Vishal Bhardwaj’s screenplay are always fading; I have fought to have a voice and agency for them. When I got the draft of Ishqiya, which was initially written by Abhishek Chaubey and Vishal, two male characters (Naseeruddin and Arshad Warsi) were driving the story. Vidya Balan (Krishna) was merely reacting to the circumstances and was the object of his lust. The big change I brought was to show that she was the one playing them. “Wow, I didn’t know. She also says that in the US, she is part of a consortium that protects the author’s credit and her right to residuals, royalties, net profit participation, health insurance, and retirement benefits.
Writer-director Tanuja Chandra (Zakhm, Tamannaah, Sangharsh, Dushman, Dil To Pagal Hai, Qarib Qarib Single) is objective about her work: “Tamanna was closer to my own sensibility than Dil To Pagal Hai (DTPH). .. [but it] It was hard for me to write, because I had to delve deep into my heart and mind… I had to wander through dark areas. DTPH was foamy.”
Amongst the few politically fearless female writers, Urmian, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, Shanghai, I Am, Leela web series) Shanghai, based on the Greek novel Z by Vasilis Vasilikos, “rises from the despair that you can’t make political movies anymore; you can’t make people miserable.” ” She explains, “There is no cinema for women. In Bollywood, female-oriented cinema is either parallel cinema or medium cinema, never commercial… More than focusing on women, we need a subtle portrayal of men, which only women can do. She has been Head of Development and Production with NFDC Screenwriting Labs for eight years, and says, “I never judge a script by just reading it; You have to listen to the script. Audio is closest to a writer’s cinema. One of the big discoveries I made in Binger was [screenwriting programme in Amsterdam]Yadav noted that Juvekar won a landmark judgment in the Bombay High Court after suing CNN-IBN for plagiarism through the Screenwriters Association. And also that a #MeToo incident on the set upset Juvekar so much. Done, she went on to make documentaries for a while. The book is full of these rich insights. Now, if one does a book on women screenwriters in all the major Indian languages, we will finally understand what women really did. How much has shaped Indian cinema.
Meenakshi Shede is the India and South Asia representative for the Berlin International Film Festival, a national award-winning critic, curator of festivals across the world, and a journalist.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org