Friday, July 31, 2009

Lets tell a predictable story!!

Is the story predictable?
When the promos of Utaran with grown up Ichchha and Tapasya went on air, a friend’s daughter called me and asked me, “Are they going to fall in love with the same man? Is Tapasya going to get married to the man Ichchha loves?”
Veer or Sid were yet to enter in their life.
When Veer entered into the life of Tapasya, another viewer, 11 years old predicted that Veer has come to see Tapasya but he will fall in love with Ichchha.
Much before Veer realizes he has fallen in love. He seems to be little lazy. (Lol)


When Sia was thrown out of the house by Amma jee… I knew that she will come back to the haveli to take the revenge.
When Vidya of aapki Antara is getting ready for a dinner with her husband and he enters with Antara after getting the medical report, I knew that what they would never go out for dinner tonight.
When there is a high drama around hope or happiness one can sense that the end will be just opposite.
When a hope is created that Archana of Pavitra Rishta will get married to Manav, and one knows that finally they are going to fall in love, but one can still predict that end of episode all the hope will be shattered.

I think I have made my point clear. We are telling a predictable story.
Not just the story is predictable, we make it more predictable through our promos and coming ups.
Still people watch them. They are glued to Nanis and Ammajis.
Why is it so?
The best example I remember is of a play, “Oedipus Rex.” I knew the story and the end everything still for 2 hours I was completely absorbed by the twists and turns. It is one of the best examples of telling a known story. The myth was known to the audience of Sophocles. Its known to us also. Yet every moment you are on the edge. Its not just the craftsmanship.
How to tell the predictable story and still make it interesting that is our job.
Don’t we all experience the highs and lows while reading the same novel or play third or fourth time? A great work of art has a shelf life. Unfortunately TV does not have a shelf life. Its like a daily news paper.
Have we told any such story recently that is available on DVD?
One of my friends used to caution me, “don’t try to write for posterity!! You are writing for TV.”
Still I wish DVDs of our shows will be on shelf someday. Till the time the opportunity comes let’s tell the most predictable story in slightly unpredictable way.
I know I a not a Sophocles and I am not happy about it.
Before I post I want to add what I found on net about predictability.
“Personally I think a good author can pull it off and bad authors use it (Predictability) as a crutch.”

“The details are what make them work.”

“Interesting writing is always interesting, even if you know what the character is going to do next.”

Arm Twisting Writing

Sorry Ishita
Before I post anything I need to apologies Ishita for I forgot to mention her name in my earlier blog, “I am sorry…”
She has also done a wonderful job and I clearly remember people were more sympathetic towards her in those days of jealousy.
Generally I restrict my views to the characters only and do not comment on the actors portraying them. I feel that is not the purpose of writing the blog.
But I think I got carried away.
So Sorry Ishita. You have given life to some wonderful moment in Utaran.
I like character of Tapasya.
But our viewers like the characters who cry endlessly on screen.
That’s why we make lives difficult of Sia, Archna, Damini, Ichchha, and Chiraiya.
Sometimes I feel we get paid for twisting the arm of the heroine and make her cry.
There is something interesting about developing a plot. I read it on net. You also read it.
Writing looks funny if one looks at it this way.
The aim of an episode is to chase your characters up a tree and then hurl rocks at them. Just make life more and more problematical for your characters - and just when they think they've solved the problem... make it worse.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I am sorry, I just punished you Ichchha.

I had punished Ichchha once in Episode 39 Scene 12, if my memory is not failing. That time she had stolen a video game of Tapasya to impress her friends in the municipal school.

It took me seven hours to write her punishment then. And some more time for revising it.
Today it took me just three hours. It seems I am seasoned now in punishing you Ichchha.

Whenever such a scene comes, my first reaction is to postpone writing the scene. But today I had no choice. The day of punishment is tomorrow.

I am sorry Grown up Ichchha. But let me tell you what happened when you were punished for the stolen video game.

Dates: February 20-22, 2009

Screenplay had assigned you one punishment.

“Damini turns towards Ichchha and now her face turns red in rage…
High treatment …
she rushes near Ichchha slaps her hard…”

Then there was feedback, “not sure if the child should be slapped so many times…”

And your punishment was shortened by using music and montage.

I am sorry. I did not allow it to be shortened.

Actually I did nothing then.

I just let Damini do what she wanted to do. And she did not slap her. She threw you out of the house. She slammed the door. Do you know that she collapsed after that? She really loved you then. Does she love you today? I am not so sure about it.

Will talk to you about it later.

Let me just complete narrating my experience to others. You can also listen to it.

It was a very long scene…11 pages.

What a performance by Vaishali Thakkar and Sparsh!!

They seemed to be borne to do these roles.

So Ichchha got the punishment and then Damini began molding her daughter.
She taught her to sacrifice.

We project sacrifice as the best amongst all the virtues. And damini loves sacrificing.

But today I felt something different.

What Damini does to Ichchha is not so different from what Nani does.
Is it shocking?

A sacrificing woman…
A mother who love her daughter Ichchha.

And the other a selfish woman.
An old woman who hates Ichchha.

But as far as the understanding of human nature goes, I see them on the same platform today.

Damini uses Ichchha to prove her loyalty to her master.
Nani also does the same.
Both of them use her as if she is a puppet in their hands.


Do you know that you have failed as a mother? The loyalty to your master weighs more than the love for your child.

I do not discriminate you when I am writing because we writers have to give equal importance to all the characters.

But when I have done that and I am alone I compare you with people I see around me.

I had a maid, Kavita. She once took a loan of ten thousand and paid it back in ten months by not taking salary for ten months. I respect her. She was making difference to the lives of her children by sending them to an English Medium School without any support of Jogi Thakur.

And there is one more maid. She is a widow. 22-23 years of age. She has a daughter, 3 years old. She is also sending her daughter to an English Medium School without taking any loan from anybody.

This is sacrifice.

Do you really think you could not afford education in a municipal school for your child?

Do you really think you had a valid reason to stay in haveli to pay back your master?

Do you really think Thakurs have been treating you as equals?

Just look at the reality.

Yesterday you were taking care of Tapasya. Today your daughter is doing the same.

If Thakurs were just human beings then they would have stopped this practice. They would have told Ichchha, “You and Tapasya are my daughters. So if you do something for her, she should also do the same for your. Don’t treat yourself like a servant.”

No, they wont do so. It’s a convenient relationship for the grown ups and unfortunately their children are paying the price.

I remember a renowned playwright saying once.

Don’t trust the characters on the basis of what they say. Like all human beings, fictional characters also lie. The truth is visible only if you scratch the superficial layer of words.

I want to repeat one thing that I have understood while writing Utaran.

Story is the skeleton for a screenplay writer.
Screenplay is also a skeleton for a dialogue writer.
And the final script is again just a skeleton for the actors.

If actors can scratch the surface then they would definitely come out with unexpected responses that can surprise the viewers.

Sparsh, Vaishali and Ayub hav done it in Utaran.

It’s time for the new actors to do it.

I wish you courage and strength to you Ichchha. I know you are not guilty. But you also won’t listen to me when I say your mother is guilty. After all you are fictionalized to live a pre-destined life.

And I feel sorry for you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ichchha, We Ignored You.

Sorry we ignored you.

All the time we are busy in developing jealousy between you and your friend. But we conveniently ignored you. We gave you tears only.
Neither your mother wants you to be happy nor us.
Your unhappiness is our success.
Do you know the man you are in awe of is hiding the biggest secret of your life..?
When you went to request Jogi to give Tapasya a new cycle, you were late by few seconds. Jogi was telling his wife that I am the one who is responsible for the death of Ichchha’s father. You missed it. The art of story telling allowed you to enter …. But little late!!!

Jogi: But it was an accident. I didn’t kill him deliberately.

So what Mr Jogi? Are you not avoiding to take the responsibility?

Jogi: I am doing everything for them.. Got Ichchha admitted in the best of the school... Giving her everything that my daughter gets.

Yes America always does so. First it kills and then sends the aids on humanitarian ground.

Dear Papu alias Jogi ji

You are doing just that..

And let me ask you one thing, why are not allowing me to talk to Ichchha.

Listen, I am sympathetic towards you.. to all of you including Nani when I write. But give me at least some space here.

I am talking to Ichchha you know!!


You are being fooled by everybody.

The gifts, the education, the comfort… all because of your father’s body found it's death beneath the wheels of car of Jogi Thakur.

Your mother will never tell you this because we don’t write any such scene
It does not fit into the scheme of things you know..
Your mother has been brought up in an environment where she cannot fight with her master. She doesn’t know how to fight. For generations Daminis have lived like that.
So we cannot write a scene where she will come to you and tell you everything about Jogi and Divya.

We want you to grow up by the time IPL ends..

So grow up baby… fast… fast…. Time is running out.

You have 8 years of growing between a Thursday and a Monday or may be just one day!!

The mould is set. You just melt your soul and fit yourself into it.

Ever smiling and never doubting Ichchha is waiting in the wings…

Please welcome young, charming, vivacious Ichchha.

And good bye to Ichki…

Tumhari hichkiyaan sunai nahin dengi Ichki!!

Papa Aap Jhooth bolte Hain!!!

In Utaran Tapasya is going through a phase of turmoil.
She feels insecure because her parents are showering love on Ichchha. She is jealous, so to speak.
The parents (Jogi and Divya) notice it and they decide to talk to her.
They want her to know that they truly love her. And there is no question of dividing their love between Tapasya and Ichchha. They say that they are really concerned and want to change her behaviour.

So they sit with her. They express their love and concern and assure her that they really mean what they say.


“Papa bhi jhooth bolte hain

Mummy bhi..”

What do they really want?

To understand the hurt and pain of daughter?....... I doubt. Their actions don’t match their words.
To correct her behaviour?..... Yes, but…
To convince her to do what they want her to do? Be a PAPA-MUMMY’s good girl. A big yes and no but!!

On the surface they appear to be transparent and honest and really talking from heart. But even they don’t know why their subconscious is making them to do certain things.
So we have Tapasya convinced and the next morning papa gives her an award for her good behaviour.

And what is this so called good behaviour?

She apologizes Damini Ammu and Ichchha for her bad behaviour and asks them to stay in haveli !! This is what good girls do. Behave as their parents want them to!!

“So here is gift for you baby…one for you and one for Ichchha. But today you can pick up the best.” Says Jogi. Tapasya does not feel happy or convinced. She reluctantly picks up one.. any one.

Kids do read the faces. That’s how they learn to imitate, live and survive. And they are not always convinced by the truth told by parents. They listen to the text and decode the subtext. How it happens I don’t know. But kids are more intelligent than we imagine them to be.

If parents are really sincere in addressing the problems of the children then they need to talk to themselves first.

Let’s look at what is happening in the minds of parents.

Jogi is hurt because his image of a good daughter is shattered.

And Divya is hurt because she sees her reflection in Tapasya.

But Jogi doesn’t tell himself…

“Image is just an image- a static dead thing! Daughter is a living entity. She will change.”

It happens in love also. We fall in love and fall out of it when we find the person and the image are 2 different things. We don’t correct our image. We start blaming the person….

“You have changed!!”

Divya also does not look inside. Probably she does not have it in her… the insight to introspect. I am convinced that Divya we see now is just a mask. The real old Divya is still there… Only her outer shell is crippled.

Text and subtext are two different things. And the responsibility of actors and directors is to give life to the subtext. I would love to see both the Jogis and Divyas in one scene. Then the complexity and drama will reach to a different level.

I have read about Amrish Puri having done it successfully in a Hindi play, Raktpushp. It’s a small role if one counts the number of lines. (And I have heard stories of actors refusing roles by counting the lines.) The play is about conflict of a growing up daughter and a mother going through menopause. Father is just a witness… But when the playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar saw Late Amrish Puri’s performance, he was amazed to see the way Amrish had brought life into the subtext of the play. The character of father suddenly became much more important than what it appeared in the script.

To sum it up…

Story is a skeleton for the screenplay..
Screenplay is a skeleton for the dialogue script.
And the final script is again a skeleton for the actors.
Going beyond the lines can bring depth to the scene.

Coming back to what I was writing about.

When we write such scenes we should have the truth of the character in mind.

When Jogi and Divya talk to their daughter honestly and straight from the heart, I see the lies in their truth. And I am sure Tapasya also sees it clearly. Politics is not the bapauti of adults. Children are also political animals without voting rights.

So Tapasya is right when she says

“Papa aap jhooth bolte hain…
Mummy aap jhooth bolti hain..”

P. S.

When I shared this post with my first reader, Pratishtha Durga from colors, she wrote:

Anil, I am reminded of this line from the old show Khandaan... It was spoken by the Late Jalal Agha. "Wohh mat karo jo bade karte hain, woh karo, jo bade kehte hain."

I loved that show. It acknowledged the dark realms of the human psyche. It acknowledged that we lie. That there are two selves. That's what Jogi and Divya need to understand. And then they will be able to address the truth and win back the trust of their daughter. Or else...

Tapasya won't grow up into a Divya or a Jogi. She will grow up into another complex entity, the dark realm being fed on the real and perceived lies of her parents and all those around her. And what life would she be equipped for? A life of manipulation and deciet, perhaps. Can we blame her? In an older post, you discussed how our parents mould us, make us who we are. And Tapasya's mould is ready. It doesn't look pretty, does it?

Friday, May 8, 2009



You won’t understand it now but it is true that PARENTS SCRIPT US.

Many times I feel..
We are repeating our parents..

History repeats itself, as they say.
Unhappy couples have children who rarely have happy married life.

It’s a constant struggle to undo your parents at times.
What parents do is unintentional and they rarely want to hurt their children.
But their understanding of life is limited to their experience..

In Utaran, now Damini is on a road to sacrifice everything for Divya.

Sacrifice is a virtue, a value to be taught to children.

Tapasya needs a little bit of it.

And Ichchha needs to sacrifice the habit of sacrificing .. !!!

But her mother is scripting her, teaching her a value that a child won’t understand. Child might just imitate parent without understanding the implications.

But values need to be taught with a pinch of salt.

If Ichchha keeps sacrificing for Tapasya, then a day will come when she would have sacrificed everything for her friend and she will still find her friend is unhappy. No one can make the other happy by just giving. The other has to find his/ her happiness in life.
Tapasya now is on a path, where she is seeking disapproval, rejection and dejection. No one can make her happy because she has stopped being happy.

Where did it come from?

Jogi doesn’t seem like this.
It must have come from Divya.
Why does Divya not look within to find why Tapasya is behaving in a certain way?
She cannot. That’s her limitation. She is not analytical. She is impulsive and her child is also impulsive. Since Divya cannot analyse, she cannot correct behaviour of her child.

She can just substitute gifts for true love.

“Buy my child a new cycle and she will be happy.”

Many parents do it. They feel they love their children by giving, but probably they are just dealing with their own guilt.

And since Jogi is on a guilt trip he has lost his ability to analyse.
He cannot touch the tip of the nose of his daughter and say…
“Let’s ring up the sun “
Like the father in Arvi Siig’s poem does..

May be there are a lot of people who are of the opinion that Damini is an ideal mother. But I feel she is a weak mother. Otherwise she would have left haveli by now. She has been scripted to go on self-pity. Such parents ruin children’s lives.

And I am sure Damini will ruin Ichchha’s questioning and ambition both.

Dear Damini

You are a looser.
And “I’ m not ok” mother.
Ichchha will be just like you in a decade or so.
Sorry for being harsh.




I shared theve view with one of my friend, Dr Lakshmi Rao, who has been teaching and practising Transactional Analysis for more than a decade. Here’s what she wrote.

“Our scripting takes place when we are not able to ask the question "WHY". The value of sacrifice is instilled in us at an age when we cannot question them. Moreover the values of good and bad are as "OUR PARENTS THOGUHT THEM TO BE. IT IS WHAT THEY THINK IS RIGHT AND WRONG".
The not OKness of damini is visible in every frame. Even the moments when ichchha is examining her mother's reactions, there is this overpowering force of sacrifice from Damini which is thrust on Ichchha. That’s what happens to all of us.

Our adult is systematically contaminated by these strong parent recordings and our script takes a turn to be a loser---NOT OKNESS written all over.
Let me know about this. Lakshmi.

So the story will move in a direction decided by the character of Damini and we cannot stop or change it.

“So be it..!!”


Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Jogi, father of Tapasya and husband of Divya.
The name has a meaning.
Don’t know who named this character Jogi. But it’s apt.
The synonyms for Jogi in Samantar Kosha (a Hindi thesaurus) are


Naming a character is a strange process…
A conscious decision .. or… and unconscious one…. Mohan Rakesh named protagonist of Adhe Adhure as savitri, who unlike mythological savitri, is eager to get rid of her husband.

In popular movies, Deewar has Vijay and Jaychand. Vijay stands for victory and Jaychand for betrayal.

Then we have interesting names of characters in Sholey.*
The name Gabbar Singh was taken from a real-life dacoit. Salim’s father was a DIG in Indore and he heard stories of Gabbar who plundered around villages around Gwalior in the ‘50s.

Soorma bhopali was someone Javed knew from Bhopal.

Veeru and Jai were the names of Salim’s college friends and Thakur Baldev Singh was his Father-in-law.

So we have Jogi in Utaran, and I don’t know who did the namkaran.
But I like the name and the character.

Before I write about Jogi Thakur of Utaran, let me share with you a small poem written by some Arvi sagii.

I tired to find about him on internet, but could not find much. He was an Estonian poet.

In one of the episode yet to be aired, there’s a poem recital competition. In the screenplay, Ichchha got a famous poem of Wordsworth, “Daffodils.”

The other unimportant characters had none.

(When I say unimportant, please don’t misunderstand me.. In my opinion every character in a play, TV series or a film is equally important.
Or else it will have no space in the screenplay.)

So …. I had to give 2 more poems to other kids…Not so important characters, so to speak. One poem was an obvious choice… Shakespeare’s sonnet…

And the second one was lying in my cupboard for years.

By the way I have not read Wordsworth or Shakespeare.

I had bought a magazine from an old paper mart. It was a Russian magazine. Russian literature is quite cheap. And after the globalization, it’s cheapest in the kabadiwala’s shop. Let’s not get into the international politics…. I hardly understand it.

When I shifted to my new house, I had to get rid of Raddi… I got rid of the magazines, but removed the 3 pages with four poems of Arvi…

While writing the episode I remembered one of the poems and I thought why not give one character this poem…

I knew she was not going to get the screen space. Still..

Then I searched the poem in the bookshelf and included it in the episode…

You may not find worth noticing it in the episode so I am putting it here on my blog.


Arvi Siig

Translated by Diana Russell

Please don’t be so somber,
My daughter.

Yes, that endless rain….
The eyes of the woman in food stores..
like flowers in cold wind faded…
The depression spread
by a communal kitchen
with the rules of behaviour nailed on the wall..

And this makes me also….
But come,
let’s ring up the sun.

You’ll tell me the phone booth
In our street is out of order,
And in the next one
Someone’s broken the receiver,
And that even the enquiry service
Does not know the sun’s number…

But don’t you really know
How to call up the sun?

Someone only
Has to press a thumb three times
On the tip of your classical nose.

Just like this.

I read it again and again….

I feel its Jogi talking to Tapasya…. Let’s ring up the sun.. to cheer her up…

In the initial episodes, I used to find Jogi difficult to write, because it was difficult to relate with him. He was there and not there. But slowly as the story moved, I could see him, his past… and relate with him

And now when a scene between Jogi and girls comes, I am charged. I try to make it as real as possible. In one of the scene when Jogi neglects Tapasya and she angrily leaves, I felt Jogi should have responded. But he didn’t. As a father he should have immediately addressed the problem. But he didn’t because as of now he is dealing with his guilt of killing Damini’s husband.

Tapasya is right and she has every right to feel neglected. If your father has a past and he is trying to deal with it, why should a child suffer?

These days I feel more concerned about Tapasya. One of my friend, Pratishtha says, “I would never want to be in Tapasya's place. To have to share a father's love is unthinkable. It's painful. I can feel her pain, and her anger. I would never share my dad with anyone. But that is not a choice Jogi has. A past mistake ties him down to his destiny, and his child's. “

also said that if my father had done something like this to me, I would have ……

In one scene when Jogi tries to explain Ichchha how easy it is to learn English, I thought of comparing number of alphabets in Hindi and English. Unfortunately I remembered the number of alphabets in English but not in Hindi, though my primary education was in Hindi language in Madhya Pradesh. I think as a child I could never relate to my primary school and so whatever I learnt including language was informally through magazines like parag, chandamama, dharmyug etc. So I had to go on net to find it…

What I had to do is not important……… what is important is how jogi makes things easy for Ichchha…

And I found that Jogi has lot many things similar to this little girl. He was also helped by teacher to reach this stage….

And I was also.

My father was a primary school teacher. So I had to tale help of teachers all my life.

They give me books. They encouraged me. When I took wrong decision to stop education and start working one of my chemistry teachers, Dr R S Verma, came forward and advised me not to spoil my academics.

I listened to him.

It changed me.

Like me Jog still feels grateful to the teachers.. I have no child but I see a lot of me in him.

And then I feel what is personal can become universal if it has something in it.


Dear Jogi

Love you a lot.

My relations with the parents are strained but I find happiness and solace in you.
I wish I could be like you.

You have a genuine smile and lot of genuineness, which is rare to find these days.

Though you are a fictional character yet you are real.
I feel your pain.

You look handsome in white kurta, why do you wear those suits.... They look unreal..

I wish you could sort out your relationship with your daughter.
But I know story is such you will never be able to do so..

The great nani is there to spoil the game….
And as a writer I cannot get rid of her.

But you can… Do something or else your daughter will change forever and you will have more guilt.

Par yeh nahin hoga…

She will be there and both of us will suffer.


* Sholey: The Making of a classic"

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nani teri Morni ko…

In one of my plays, RIKAMA RANGMANCH (An empty stage) yet to be staged, I created a character of grandmother who does not like to play with her grand children. She is one of those who do not look beyond themselves. She wants more milk with more sugar and more cream. She does not hate anyone or scheme against her daughter-in-law. She is just self-obsessed. She has never learnt to give in life…

I would never love such a grand mother, but I love her as a character…

A similar character in my life is NANI of UTTARAN. I have been struggling to give her some shape and make her as real as possible. More often it did not happen. But when I was recently writing a crucial scene, yet to be aired, I started thinking about her.

I went back to the scenes which we had created in the past 3 / 4 months. It was like a puzzle to put things together and I could see her more clearly.. Four of us were giving her attributes and attitudes...

Sharing with you Nani, ably portrayed by a veteran actor, Pratima Kazmi.

We have seen her son Pushkar scheming, lying and cheating. He is dishonest to the chore. Where does it come from?

And why is Pushkar like that?

To me, Pushkar is just an extension of Nani. Nani has never tried to find the reasons of failures of Pushkar but on the other hand she always tried to cover up things. She tries to do the same for Tapasya, but Jogi being a better parent does not allow her to do it. Truth, values, honesty has no place in Nani’s life.

One question that haunts me is: Does she love anybody?
And my answer is “No.” Remember I am talking about a character we have seen on TV. Had there been a little bit of love in her, she would have helped the person she loved. She did not take responsibility of her son. She never tried to change his behavior. She never gives Tapasya what a loving grandmother gives. It’s not toys but something much bigger and better. She is such a person that if she loves someone, the person will be destroyed completely. He/ she will also shut the windows towards the world and live in an imaginary world full of enemies. (Divya was influenced by her for a long time and was on the same path. Luckily she has a support of a husband like Jogi Thakur.)

Did she share the lottery thing with either son or daughter-in-law?

No. She did not tell Divya also. That means she is lalchi to the core.

The transaction analysis says that we are scripted in childhood and continue to behave in the same manner even when grow up. It’s very difficult to wipe out parental impressions.

Let’s look at Pushkar’s relationship with his wife. If honesty, integrity, trust and caring are the criteria Pushkar gets 0/10. Rohini on the other hand is far better a person. Though on surface she looks stupid. For her Pushkar is her world. For Pushkar neither his mother nor his wife… !! He lives for himself. Where does it come from? His mother!! A selfish, self-centered person. She might not be negative. But her actions lead to only negative results.

Let’s compare her with Jogi as a parent. Since Jogi is the provider, and he has ample to provide, he is never scared of loosing things. He can be cheated but that will not stop him from being good to others. Because he believes in goodness of human being and knows how to punish if someone tries to exploit him/ his feelings. He has never allowed Divya or Tapasya to emotionally exploit him. He reasons out the things.

Now the last question:

Why does nani hate Damini so much?
Why is so angry with Ichchha?

I assume that Nani belonged to a poor family. All her life she has not seen prosperity but has not accepted this fact. She has been dreaming of living in haveli and ruling people. She might have been humiliated, insulted by her in-laws. And she might have learnt a lesson to survive. Attack is better than defence. Revenge is better than forgivingness. So when she sees Damini and Ichchha getting a better life, all her pain comes back to her. And she wants to take revenge. She wants to destroy. She cannot believe that others are trustworthy because she herself is not.

When we see so many flaws in her personality, we also should understand, deep down there is pain and suffering. And Nani has never dealt with it. A day will come when she will cry like a 5 year old girl, who could do nothing when all her toys were broken by unruly brothers. On the contrary she was the one who was beaten by her parents for no fault of hers. She will be another Ichchha in some other haveli.

If this child comes out someday, Nani’s character will be complete.


Aaj itna hi!!

Kuda Hafiz.

Can You Tell A story?

This morning I got an sms from my brother. Visit

I'm sharing this information with you all. Indian Institute of Technology in association with Rajkamal International will be conducting six days workshop in Screenplay writing.

Deadline: May 5, 2009
For any further queries on submission/applications, email

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Characters with real flesh and bones

One of the limitations of the characters in TV shows is that they are not believable. They are not real. There are either blacks who are scheming all the time or they are whites sacrificing and caring 24*7.

But there is one series that has really done justice to its characters. If one has to think of Balika Vadhu, one cannot exclude the character of Dadi Sa. You love her for everything she does or says and she has a reason to be like that. She is not there to scheme and take revenge. One must give credit to the writer of the series, Purnendu Shekhar, who has tried to change the portrayal of bahus and saasu maans of TV. Balika vadhu brought in a change. Had Anandi been fighting against Savita of Kyunki sass… bhi , the series would have been a tearjerker… (and we would have been watching those jerky reactions of the characters several times in each scene.) When you have no story, you go over the top.

What an amazing actor Surekha Sikri is!! I remember she was in a good TV series, Sehar, on star plus in 2000. But that was before “K” series entered the TV. In “K” kind of series good actors were not in demand. I mean the negative characters were so over the top, that subtlety of any kind had no scope. No disrespect to those who played the roles or wrote them, but those were the days for Komolika, Savita and Ramola Sikand.

Coming back to the character of Dadi Sa!!

I love watching Surekha Sikri. Her body language, posture, diction, expressions, her understanding of her character and her ability to portray it is unmatched on today’s TV. She stays with us. And unlike the negative characters on TV, you don’t hate her.

I was watching carefully the response of Dadi Sa to Saguna’s widowhood. And it was unbelievably true. She is compassionate, caring, strong and authoritative. When Saguna inflicts punishment on herself, there is no character hiding behind those K curtains, with vampish or villianious smile on his/ her face. A real story needs real characters. (I want to mention few characters of Jane kya baat hui who simply don’t fit into the story and do more harm to the story just by being there. But about such characters, will write later.)

Let’s compare her with Amma of Na Aana is Des Lado. Characterisation of Amma reminds one of the Shabana Azmi’s portrayal of God Mother. I feel God Mother had more depth and more colors. Remember the picturization of the song, “ Raja ki Kahani Purani ho gayi..” She drinks and enjoys and sings and dance. It’s more human. Though Amma has also been done responsibly by Meghna Malik, yet it will take some more time and some good writing to make her really real. The problem there is the men have no say in any affair of the family. Balikavadhu’s men are also ruled by Dadi Sa, but in their own world when they are with their families, they have a point of view. Even Gehna’s husband voices his opinion about Dadi Sa’s atrocity on the newly widowed Sugna.

Though I was expecting Dadi sa to change gradually and was not happy about Maasi (Farida Jalal ) coming in the story, but after watching few episodes, I felt her character is equally justified. She brings a fresh air of change in the old mansion. The scene where they make mirchi ka achar touches one’s heart. It’s simple, real and warm.

(There is one more scene, where Sugna's dahej is kept in a room and Anandi and Jagisha enter the room to discover that there is a motor cycle also. Dadi sa finds out that they have opened the room. The scene was so simple and so touching. I loved it.)

There is another old character, Nani played by Pratima Kazmi in Uttaran. Actor has been doing her job well. But …

Since I am writing the dialogues… I feel responsible for her characterization.
I find no justification for her negativity..
Why does she hate Ichchha so much?
Does she really love Divya and her daughter, Tapasya?
Is she from a very poor family and has gone through lot of humiliation in her early days?
She exists in the story just to create difficult circumstances for Ichchha and Damini.

I think we have not given her a soul at all.
No matter how well Pratima Kazmi does her job, the character has no depth and dimension.

To me Nani neither loves her son, nor Divya. She is one of those characters who have no experience of real love in life. They consider relationship as a social responsibility and they are not honest in any relationship. If given a chance she will spoil Tapsya, the way she spoilt Pushkar. Because Nani kind of characters cannot see anything beyond them.

We see in our lives also so many such relations, where is there is no emotional bonding.

This criticism is with a purpose.

We as writers need to give space to all the characters in the story. We cannot be partial to few characters. Each one has to have some contribution in the development of plot and subplots. Otherwise no matter what the writers write and actors do, they will not be able to win the hearts of the audience. The best examples of such writing can bee seen in many of the plays of Vijay Tendulkar. His characters are not contrived and they are not ruled by the writer. He never takes side or is judgmental about the characters.

Why am I writing it? Just want to initiate a debate about writing on and for TV.

After all millions watch what we write, direct and act.

I hope you would love to debate about it.



Thursday, April 9, 2009

We create the characters … Really?

There is one interesting novel in Marathi, “Gautam Chi Goshta” (Story of Gautam).
In the novel, 5/6 characters create a fictitious character, Gautam. For the first few chapters we start beleiveing the fact that Gautam is their creation. But in the last chapter Gautam says, "I created these characters." And the success of the author is in his capacity to write in such a way that, by the end of it we don’t know what the truth is.

TV, unfortunately, does not give so much of freedom to any writer.

But what amuses me is that many of us who write 3/ 4 series a week don’t even watch any of them. We just treat ourselves as stenographers.

If we don’t want to watch out work, how can we expect others to do the same.

After all… writing is passion and not just profession.

Isn’t it?

Enough for the day.

More about the relation between characters and writers later in the same space.

Love you all.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Who decides what the characters would do?

While writing for my most favorite writing assignment for TV: Utaran..
(No double “t” at least when one has a choice!! )

I face this question quite often. How is Ichchha going to behave? What will be Damini’s reaction to a given situation? As a dialogue writer, the situation is provided by the screenplay writer. And then one faces the task of giving words to the characters. I am learning it through this professional assignment.

When I was involved in writing the promos with the colors OAP team (Monica Nair, Shyamkant Dhaorkar and Ashish Mathur), I had a wish that I should get a chance to write dialogues too. Subconscious had a strong desire and the color programming team gave me this fabulous opportunity.

Back to my question:

Who decides what the characters would do and say?

My answer is the characters decide it. How successfully one does is for others to judge, especially the audience. But as Chekhov once wrote to his friend and contemporary writer, M. Gorky…

Write, write write! It is necessary. Even should the play fail, don't let that discourage you.

One keeps on writing dialogues.

4 episodes a week!!

And I am lucky I am not working with a team where each writer writers a separate track. It might be feasible for those who have command on their technique. I don’t have it. I am learning it.
Each time there is an emotional scene between Jogi, Tapasya, Damini, Ichchha and Divya, I loose confidence. Few scene I keep on postponing for they drain me out. I will always remember a scene when Ichchha is caught and punished by Damini. I had no choice but to let Damini decide as a mother what is the best punishment. Screenplay demanded her to slap. She was unwilling to do it. She didn’t lift her hand and threw Ichchha out of the house for few hours. This is worse than slapping.

It was a long afternoon.
Scene 39/12 (For audience the episode numbers are different. )
It took me 6/7 hours just to write one scene.
But satisfaction was for ever. On top of it when someone from the creative team calls to pat you, one feels top of the world. It’s more than the pay cheque you get.

(This is one thing that writer seeks, “appreciation”, but in today’s jet set go speed of rolling software for Television, no one has time to do it.. and some times even look back at one’s work. But that is the reality of today’s world. )

Apologies for wandering away from the question….

Who decides…

In TV I don’t know. But in theatre I have read the process of writing shared by the playwrights.

More about it later... Today or tomorrow