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‘SO NEAR, SO FAR: 
Do Our Stories Reflect India’s Reality?’

Indian Screenwriters Conference celebrates its 4th episode

Mumbai, August 3&4, 2016Film Writers Association, one of the premier & pioneer associations of Writers in India, held the “Fourth Indian Screenwriters Conference” titled “So near, so far”, which highlighted the best talents of the country.

Ms Preeti Mamgain, treasurer of FWA & the convener of 4th ISC, spearheaded the conference. The idea has been to bring together screenwriters and other media dignitaries of the country to discuss issues that concern scriptwriters today and try to find solutions to the problems faced by them.

The conference better known as “ISC4”, kicked off with a humorous and insightful speech about Writers, Writing, Language and dialects today by the Special Guest Shri Ashok Vajpeyi, an eminent and veteran Hindi Poet.

This followed the Key-note address by India’s Ace Rural Journalist and Social Activist Mr. P. Sainath that overwhelmed the audience when he spoke about the ‘intersection of realities’ between the rural and urban India with help of some eye-opening statistics.

“You cannot (as a Writer) plead a lack of inspiration of ideas and stories in this country where they kick you in your face.” Mr. Sainath appealed Writers to visit PARI (People’s Archives of Rural India) where myriads of stories like that of Bezvada Wilson are available for takes free of cost. The key-note address ended with a 5 min standing ovation by the audience and guests. “What a take-off!” FWA’s General Secretary Shri Kamlesh Pandey observed..  

 Changing Gender Equations in Films, was the first panel discussion moderated by Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh, (Dialogue, Neerja) and panelled by Screenwriters who brought female characters to the forefront in the scripts - Juhi Chaturvedi (Piku);  Sudip Sharma (NH10), Tushar Hiranandani (Ek Villain) and Swara Bhaskar (Lead Actor: Nil Batte Sannata).
The panel deliberated on the topic that now time has come when we can tell stories with either gender in lead, whatever suits the story best.  

The second panel discussion titled ‘Serial Killers’, with intended pun, drew attention towards ingenuity of TV content which was moderated by Saurabh Tewari (Ex Head of Content, Fiction, Colors and Imagine). Gaurav Banerjee (Deputy Chief officer, Star India) and Ravina Kohli (Head of Content, Epic), Purnendu Shekhar (Creator, Baalika Vadhu) and Ved Raj (Writer, Saathiya) participated on the panel.

Thoughts were exchanged on the disconnection between TV Serials and Social Reality and possible remedies to correct it.

The last panel on day one - Writers & Producers: Partners or Adversaries?, explored the with-and-without-you relationship of both. Moderated by Anjum Rajabali (Rajneeti, Ghulam), the panel of Ronnie Screwvala (Founder of UTV), Siddharth Roy Kapur (Managing director, Disney India) and Ritesh Sidhwani (Founder-partner, Excel Entertainment) had a  sizzling and enlightening discussion covering wide range of issues from Writer’s Credit, Contracts, Disputes, Lawsuits, etc.

While all panellists unequivocally agreed that Writer’s shouldn’t be short-changed in any manner, they also expected same professionalism from Writers too.    

Mr. Siddharth Roy Kapur quoted, " The Writers Conference, wonderfully put together by the Film Writers Association, is one of the most relevant and engaging initiatives that I have seen in the film industry in recent times. I had the pleasure of being on an invigorating panel moderated by the talented and indefatigable Anjum Rajabali, on which we discussed the Producer-Writer relationship. Going by the engaging and passionate interactions during the session, I am confident that this initiative will play a huge role in ensuring a continued dialogue on the opportunities and the challenges facing our industry, and how we can all best come together to address them."

Day two started off with a session on Copyright Issues, in which Mr. Anjum Rajabali advised the writers on improving the quality of their skills and polishing their scripts before submitting it anywhere. Veteran TV writer Vinod Ranganath (Swabhimaan, Mere Angne Mein), who has been actively involved with the Dispute Settlement Committee of the FWA for several years, Sushrut Desai (Copyright lawyer) and Datta Dave (Tulsea: Talent management agency for writers) shared their expertise on writers’ rights: Are agents and lawyers the answer? One of the most informative and legally helpful discussion detailed new writers about the Dos & Don’ts before stepping into a production house.

 

Further Mr Anjum Rajabali quotedThe aim behind holding the Indian Screenwriters Conference has always been two-pronged: academic and professional. The theme of whether our stories are getting increasingly disconnected from India’s realities compels introspection, so essential for writers. Aren’t we meant to also be the chroniclers of our times?  And, then, the Conference also addresses the screenwriting community’s concerns about writers’ rights, fees, credit, status and other professional issues. For that we had invited studio heads and broadcasters for a direct dialogue, this time.”

The next session – Little Big Films, saw much loved panellists Shonali Bose (Margarita with a straw), Meghna Gulzar (Filhaal,Talvar), Ashok Mishra (Welcome to Sajjanpur, Well done Abba) and Rajat Kapoor (Aankhon Dekhi) with Neeraj Ghaywan (Masaan) as their moderator. They discussed the idea of small budget films that bravely stand true to their content and quality irrespective of the box-office prospects.

A need-of-the-hour discussion highlighted the issues this sector faces and possible solutions where Indian films can also come at par with World Cinema.

The next  panel ‘Decoding the Digital Platform’ – discussed evolution of the Evolution of the Digital Media as a platform to showcase creativity and get compensated. Moderated by Manisha Korde (Writer, Malamaal Weekly, Bhool Bhulaiya) the panel comprised of Biswapati Sarkar (Creative Director: TVF), Varun Grover (Stand-up Comedian), Satya Raghvan (Head Operations, Youtube, India), Chaitanya Chinchlikar (Vice President-Business development, Whistling Woods International) and Nikhil Taneja (Head Content, Y-Films) 

This session emphasized on the power of digital content. The panellists urged the writers to befriend internet, claiming it to be the future of content presentation.

The last panel discussion The business of TV writing: Making of a TV writer, saw panellists Jayesh Patil (Kumkum, Bade Achche Lagte Hain), Shashi Mittal (Diya aur Baati Hum), Aatish Kapadia (Khichdi, Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai),  Sonali Jaffar (Bahu Humari Rajnikanth), Farhan Salaruddin (Hum Pardesi Ho Gaye) and Raghuvir Shekhawat (Dialogue writer: Balika Vadhu) with Mr. Vinod Raganath as Moderator.

The session explored the pitching aspect of a particular idea/script and what a writer needs to undergo before his work is approved. Filled with humour, the panellists also urged writers to believe in their rights as a writer and listen to what their conviction says.

The Conference concluded with FWA Awards of Excellence which were conferred upon Late Shri Vijay Anand, Late Shri Sharad Joshi and Late Shri Sahir Ludhianvi. Audio-visual presentations on the legendary writers and lyricists reminded the audience of their unforgettable works. Dignitaries Javed Akhtar and Rishi Kapoor graced the occasion and presented the awards to the family members of the Shri Vijay Anand and Shri Sharad Joshi. Award for Shri Sahir was given to Mr. Akhtar himself.

Mr. Rishi Kapoor admired the brilliant work of Shri Vijay Anand and shared anecdotes of those times when artists laboured for perfection. Shri Javed Akhtar shared his memories on Shri Sahir Ludhianvi, which had the audience in splits at one time and in tears on another.

The event ended with the Vote of Thanks by Shri Danish Javed, Vice President of FWA who recognised and credited everyone who made the event, a huge success.

For details discussion / videos please see Individual Panel pages through the links provided.