Writer on Writers – a Tryst with Picture Perfect Plots

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The happily ever after of our favourite fairy tales are seldom a conclusion one expects from a good movie or series. This is not to imply that happy endings or simple plotlines are discredited bygones, but rather an observation that we are bound to interact with a piece of media if it is thought- provoking. From my entirely biased personal experience, the story of the movie or series prods most of these interactions, but I may not be too off-mark to guess that it’s the case for many others. I have fielded multiple discussions about elements like the plot, the screenplay, the themes at play, the emotions evoked by a particularly intense sequence and even the flow of dialogue among the characters. Some of them were a requirement for my Film Studies and Literature lectures, but they only equipped me with a comprehensive objectivity I could apply in both professional and personal settings.

Even with the pandemic well behind us, we can’t deny the patent impact of the entire experience on every facet of our lives. The spectrum of audience has more content now than we ever did. During the pandemic, we were exposed to a good measure of creative content, to the point that the major influx of stories we were introduced to laterally shifted the trajectory of our interests. The unprecedented time has also led us to appreciate and experiment with things we typically wouldn’t. Plenty of stories and topics assumed in contemporary visual media wouldn’t even be hushed discussions a few years back. We are now more open to viewing the world with a wider lens.

One of the major literary theories by the French literary theorist Roland Barthes positions the audience at the center of the creative universe. It rings irrefutably true for the visual entertainment industry where the merit of the work is measured by the number of tickets it sells or the view count on the streaming platforms (And even amidst criticism, it’s only fair for a medium that balances most of its weight on the entertainment of the masses. It has always been the case for such mediums, even as far back as the Greek theatres).

A call for inclusive representation in popular media echoes the attention alluded to local stories. From folk tales to common ailments plaguing Indian society, people are more inclined to invest their time in the tales of thine. They want to see the authenticity translated into the final product. Inadvertently it wouldn’t be possible if the initial skeletons of the scripts’ frameworks don’t include them from the very start. For instance, a mild-budget Kannada film Kantara garnered immense praise and success for its brilliant portrayal of an authentic regional story. Impeccable storytelling is the focal point of a great piece of media, irrespective of its targeted audience. Even a casual once-over at India’s population makes it abundantly clear that the scale of the audience is very extensive. Over the years, this wide berth of spectators has evolved to demand original content, stories they can relate to. While

the love for pompous extravagance is not going anywhere, given India’s distinct cultural identity and diversity, the audience is ready to face the mirror through their screens. Be it in a communal setting like the silver screens or a much more intimate atmosphere wherein the audience can be as limited as your own self.

After careful and extensive research on the themes and parameters of the content circulating in popular media, the divide is reasonably clear. Many people have critiqued Indian cinema for lacking quality content despite being the largest cinema industry in the world. These claims are in no way unfounded given some frankly atrocious endeavours in the recent past, but they don’t reflect the entire truth. We merely need to recognise how to approach different stories through different platforms.

Films like October tank at the box office and got a ‘limited response’ according to director Shoojit Sircar, he even braced his producers for the same (Suri). However, it did well on OTT platforms even months after its release. It can also be accredited to the fact that we are likely to experiment with our watchlist and foray into different genres in the comfort of our personal screens. Visiting the cinema, on the other hand, is an experiential manoeuvre I like to indulge in mostly when I’m confident about getting my money’s worth.

The question remains, Is the Indian film industry parched of good writers or is the drought of truly impressive scripts and screenplays a product of other challenges? It’s no secret that many worthy stories get shoved at the bottom shelves because studios are hesitant to risk their profits and revenue. The recent news of the 2023 WGA strike-which has continued for exactly three months now- has drawn a lot of attention around the globe, yet somehow not enough to be resolved just yet. The strike propelled their Indian counterparts to push for fairer contracts and better pay (Kartik). These contracts are mainly one-sided in favour of platforms and producers and often not even congruent with the concurrent economic arena. I personally had to put a hold on writing scripts of my own after I graduated because screenwriting is not really a stable career choice. Moreover, the ones already in the business are not even bestowed enough credits during promotions, marketing, and profits.

I’d like to point out that this is not an incursion on the studios and production houses. While I agree that the circumstances could be better, I am also aware that without the institutions in place, it would’ve been infinitely harder for even the most phenomenal scripts to see the light of day. An extraordinary piece of media births from the writer’s ink but it takes a meticulous entourage of production and post-production units to build it from the ground up. The intriguing thrill of

Andhadun’s staggering plot points would’ve been lacklustre if not for the balanced culmination of the noteworthy performances, precise editing sequences, flawless background score and even the unreliable narration of the movie. Nonetheless, we would do a lot better as a film market if we actualised the notion that even if writers are the first to finish their accorded task on set, their job is never truly done until the last meters of the film roll leave the theatres.


Kartik, Ayaan. “Indian Screenwriters Raise Their Own Demands Amid American Writers’ Fight For Better Contracts.” Https://Www.Outlookindia.Com/, 12 June 2023, https://www.outlookindia.com/business/indian-screenwriters-raise-their-own-demands-amid- american-writers-fight-for-better-contracts-news-294028

Suri, Rishabh. “Shoojit Sircar: More People Watched My Film October on OTT than They Did in Theatres.” Hindustan Times, 27 Nov. 2021, https://www.hindustantimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/shoojit-sircar-more-people-watched-my- film-october-on-ott-than-they-did-in-theatres-101638025077820.html

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