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When the script was king

June 3, 2009 15:10 IST

'The writer is the most important part of a film'

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A common refrain among actors when asked the reason why they take up a particular role is because they 'fell in love with the script'. It's this script that tends to make or break a film. With good scripts being quite the rarity these days, Nithya Ramani spoke to three top scriptwriters and asked them to list their favourite scripts. Take a look:

Kamlesh Pandey
Films: Rang De Basanti, Aks, Chaalbaaz

Writing is the weakest link in Bollywood. Ninety percent of the films flop because of lack of story. There are no film writing courses or workshops. Even if there are, they're too expensive. The writer is the most important part of a film. He is the first star of the film and then comes the cast. Without him, the film will be just a blank paper.

I love the films during the 1950s. That was the golden age of films.

My favourite film scripts are Zanjeer, Sholay, Aandhi, Mausam, Mother India, Aawara, Shri 420, Pyasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Bandini, Devdas, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Teesri Kasam and Lage Raho Munnabhai.

I will not mention Deewar because it was a mix of Ganga Jamuna and Mother India.

Zanjeer and Sholay are classic examples of good story-telling. They were rich in content and relevant even today, irrespective of geographic locations. Because the content was so rich, one could relate with the characters. That's what I call a strong story.

Lage Raho Munnabhai is also relevant even today. It is one of the best films I have watched in recent times. It is the first comedy with a message. I think it is the best comedy after Hrishikesh Mukerjee's films. Who could have imagined to a comedy film on Gandhi? The name brings out patriotism only. But this film brought out patriotism with a message in a comic way. People even follow Gandhigiri today. That is the power of story writing. People want to be surprised and it's not easy to please them. But this story did.

The idea is the most important part of the process. The story and screenplay are the most difficult parts of filmmaking.

That's how Rang De Basanti happened. I was doing a research on Bhagat Singh and realised that a young boy in his 20s died for the nation. When the script was ready, no one was interested in making the film. Aamir Khan got to know about the script and agreed to do it. Through him, A R Rahman came on board. Only then did the script become commercially viable.


Image: A scene from Zanjeer

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'There can never be another film like Mughal-E-Azam'

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Anees Bazmee
Films: No Entry, Welcome, Singh Is Kinng, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi

Mughal-E-Azam is a class apart and relevant even today. It has the best love story, great writing and dialogues. There can never be another film with such a powerful script and dialogues.

Mother India has the best script and screenplay. One can learn a lot from this film. My favourite scene is when the mother sells herself to feed her dying child. She says, 'Maa banna kitna mushkil hai aur devi banke sab dekhna kitna aasan.' [It's tough being a mother but easy to be a saint] It's a very well written film. I loved all the scenes from the first to the last.

Sholay and Deewar have great scripts. Brilliant writer duo Salim-Javed gave us some of the best films. Deewar was the first film that showed Amitabh Bachchan as the Angry Young Man. My favourite scene is when the mother goes to the temple and the poojari says that her son just came and prayed for her. She turns back, looks at Shashi Kapoor, when the poojari says it was Amitabh -- who had never stepped inside a temple before -- who came to pray for her. The scenes were very well-written.

A good script can be spoilt by a director. But if you have a bad script, even the best director cannot make a good film out of it. Of late, films have become more commercial and people are looking at them as a business. Somewhere down the line, the passion is missing. Tight deadlines and money matters have made people less passionate about their films.


Image: A scene from Mughal-E-Azam

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'Sholay is a complete commercial film with a very good script'

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Rumi Jaffery
Films: Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, Jodi No 1, Hero No 1, Judwaa, Coolie No 1

The characterisation, screenplay and scripts of Mother India and Mughal-E-Azam were perfect. As a writer, you get to learn a lot from these films.

Both these films are relevant even today. And even though they were completely commercial movies, they had a message. I always believe that scripts should be written keeping in mind that the director may spoil or distort it, and yet last long enough to celebrate its silver jubilee. You have to give the best inspite of all the possible distortion that may or may not happen.

Sholay is a complete commercial film with a very good script. Though the story was simple, its story was very powerfully put into a script and made into a screenplay.

I loved Amrish Puri's character in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. It was so well written. It showed him as a very powerful personality. It was a basic love story where the hero and heroine come together in the end. But how effective it translates on screen is important. Aditya Chopra did full justice to the script.

Pyasa has been my favourite film since childhood. It clearly shows what happens to a poet after his death. It also shows how the power of money blinds a brother's love. It has such a strong message, put across so efficiently. The climax of this film wouldn't have been as good if not for the song and its meaningful lyrics.


Image: A scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge

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