Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY
Writer Raaj Shaandilyaa has come a long way with his impressive and entertaining scripts. He is quite famous for writing ‘Comedy Circus’, it’s been a great transition for the man behind the camera from televisions to the big screen. Here, we speak to him with regards to ‘Jabariya Jodi’, evolvement of writers in Hindi cinema, constant challenge as a writer amidst much more…
How did ‘Jabariya Jodi’ happen to you?
As I had completed writing ‘Dream Girl’, I had gone to Ekta Kapoor to narrate the film which she liked a lot. After a few days, I get a call from her to write another film which was ‘Jabariya Jodi’. They wanted a writer, to develop the story so she asked me to come onboard for it. And within 20-25 days I completed writing the dialogues and screenplay of the film. And that’s how it all started for me, for this film.
How much do you think Hindi cinema has evolved, when it comes to screenplay, story, dialogues?
There are many good writers, directors who are producing good and natural kind of subjects like ‘Article 15’, ‘Super 30’ and many such subjects; where people want to know about real facts of society. And I am pretty much sure that the audience likes what’s been served. Also now it’s beneficial for the writers to tell a story in a real manner and not fictionalise it, more than required. Now we see less filmy films – where things were unbelievable. And now-a-days the generation has become too smart, they won’t mind to watch remote locations of India in a film, in fact they will appreciate it and like it. In today’s cinema we see originality, true based stories, unfortunate incidents that took place; that too told in an entertaining way which is a big deal for all of us.
How has the scenario changed for writers in this time in terms of recognition and the equal credit given as directors?
I started my career of writing from the show ‘Comedy Circus’. And at that point in time, the writers who were writing for shows use to not ask or bother why their name is not there in the credit roll. I came to Mumbai to make my name and not to make money, so when I have asked for my name to be there in the credit roll – they refused to put in. So, even I decided not to write and had my conditions to flash my name as a writer. Now things have changed drastically, now everyone knows who has written which film, writers are known by their name. Back then people use to not care much about understanding the script or there wasn’t any trailer trend. And now until the audience don’t understand the concept or the trailer, they don’t go to watch the film. So, this has benefited for the writers that content is the king and content will always remain the king. Now it doesn’t matter if it’s a big star cast film, what matters is, if the content is good along with the big star cast it works. It’s a pretty good scenario for the writers in today’s time and age.
How much involvement is needed of a writer to be on sets while filming, how does the writer-director collaboration work?
It depends on a film, for instance – a film like ‘Jabariya Jodi’ which has a backdrop of Bihar, so, it’s important to introduce that accent to an actor, make them understand how the lingo is, how the body language is suppose to be. So, this collaboration certainly works between the writer, director and the actor. No matter if the film works or doesn’t work but the collaboration of a writer-director-actor goes hand in hand. It was a good experience since Sidharth was playing this character for the first time and to talk in the Bihari lingo isn’t easy but by the grace of god he did it quite well.
What’s the constant challenge as a writer?
It’s very important for writers to entertain their audience and most important is that he shouldn’t bore the audience through his writing. Be it while reading or hearing the story. We always aim that the audience should feel good whenever they read or hear what we have written. So I personally try to avoid writing anything that is intense, depressing or sad because we all in general are facing some or the other challenges in our lives. Anything that is said in humour in a film doesn’t harm anyone or they don’t get offended by it.
Does your work reflect from your personality and experiences?
In a field of writing – ‘Sochne wallo ki duniya, duniya wallo ki soch se alag hoti hai’ so we take the world with us. Everything you do reflect in your work in some or the other way. The most important thing in writing for us is to listen carefully because if we are good listeners then we can write something good. And as we meet people in our day to day life we try to be observant. Observation is the key to writing.
You will be next seen directing ‘Dream Girl’; can you share a gist with regards to that?
I had a great experience working with Ayushmann Khurrana. The film was smoothly made and my dream to direct a film happened really soon than expected. I had thought I would direct a film after writing 5-6 films but this happened to me and I am so glad. My experience has been amazing so far and I learnt a lot as a director, the things I didn’t know, I learnt through this film.
Last words on ‘Jabariya Jodi’?
This film talks about an important issue in a comic way. It talks about the dowry system and forceful marriage. This film is a full package of drama, action, romance, comedy and it gives away a good message to the audience.