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


  1. Very well written, Anil. And valid observations, too. The process of writing is an agonizing, but satisfactory one. Keep writing. You do such a good job of it.

  2. Thanks Pratishtha

    You are the frist person to post a comment and it has encouraged me.

    Keep visiting the blog and also share your views.


  3. anil .. very well written .. keep it up.
    though i dont regularly watch utaran, i have seen a few episodes and they are nice.
    very true - if u are a writer you need to 'write, write, write', though few of us ever do so. i wonder if creativity and discipline ever goes hand in hand but evidently, it does - courtsey the plethora of successful writers down the ages. but then again - most of them wrote becos they 'needed' to write, as if a disease had taken hold of them and writing would give them the balm. so, the questin really is - have you been biten by the writing bug? are u writhing with fever, racked by pain, tormented by words floating in your brain? if yes .. then welcome to the world of words.

  4. Thanks Maonali...
    Your words encourage me. Just wrote a blog about characters. Read that too. And share with friends if you like.

  5. great anil, your blog is interesting and i hope to read more of you on this. I always wonder how much a writer has to compromise on his/her value system while writing. It is a question which bothers me time and again. i hope to find answers through interactions with you