Parveez Shaikh, co-writer of Queen on his affinity for real stories, aversion for sci-fi and his misunderstood debut.
In Queen, Rani discovered life in travel. For Parveez Shaikh, the co-writer of the film, it’s a life he knows about. He likes to traverse sea and land, and toil through various climates on his own. He loves to travel so much that he actually maintains a low-key website http://www.underhundred. com, for cheap hotel stays in Europe. Currently, all his travel plans are on hold as he has his hands full post the success of ‘Queen’. He is writing Shaatir for Kunal Deshmukh and also co-writing for Kabir Khan’s ‘Phantom’.
The former is a revenge con film and the latter, a political thriller. Currently he is in the process of adapting Anuja Chauhan’s Battle For Bittora for Anil Kapoor Productions, which obviously will have Sonam Kapoor in the lead.
Born and brought up in Hubli, Karnataka, he never thought that he would end up being a film writer. Fed on a steady diet of Hindi films populated by Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty and Jeetendra, he barely watched foreign films barring a few James Bond films. “I never thought I would be a writer. I always thought I would be in advertising,” he says.
After pursuing English literature at St. Xavier’s, Mumbai, he started as a trainee copywriter at Contract, and remained there for more than a decade. “Then I became a freelancer. I was just floating around. I had no intention of getting into films. Then one day, Vikas Bahl (who also worked in the same company earlier) asked me if I had any ideas for a film. So, I just told him about the idea of Ghanchakkar,” says Shaikh.
The idea was commissioned, which was the starting point for his career. Vikas Bahl then tapped him to co-write ‘Queen’, which was directed by Vikas Bahl.
As a writer, Parvez Shaikh likes to straddle different genres. “I like watching all genres. Though I lean towards black comedies more,” he says. Stories set in real space attract him more than fantasy.
“The only genre I don’t think I can or I want to write is sci-fi. I don’t connect with it. I prefer human dramas. Give me thrillers, noir, rom-com or anything else, but not sci-fi or fantasy,” says the 39-year-old writer. It’s still early days, but he’s figuring his way through the Bollywood maze.
Ghanchakkar, despite top lining two box office draws, Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi, did exactly the opposite of ‘Queen’, critically and commercially. “The reviews were really scathing. I was quite taken aback. I think the reviewers didn’t know how to review it and they got it wrong. I think they missed the point. They reviewed it like a regular thriller, when it wasn’t one,” he says. He feels the film went wrong with its promotion.
“The posters kind of gave a wrong impression of the film. It looked as if this film was ‘Shaadi Ke Side Effects’. There was also a music video. People went to the theatre expecting a domestic comedy. I think if you are true to the film and sell it the way it is, people would know what to expect. But I knew it wasn’t a bad film at all. A lot of people who watched it later on TV later asked me why it got bad reviews. It was heartening to see people comparing it to Coen Brothers’ films,” he says.
Shaikh believes in being flexible in his approach to screenwriting. “In some films, I know the beginning and the end, like in ‘Ghanchakkar’ where I only had to fill the space in-between. In some films, I go along with the idea to see where it leads,” he explains. Though he is co-writing many films, he prefers writing on his own.