Conducted by Ranjib Mazumder
Writers are an important part of the filmmaking process but when it comes to promotions, they are mostly sidelined. Two experts decode the situation.
Anubhav Sinha (Producer, Director)
Let’s first talk about music. There was appreciation of music in the past. But with T-series coming in, it became glamourised, with Gulshan Kumar and Nadeem-Shravan, appearing on their posters.
And then, musicians became celebrities, music directors and singers becoming judges in reality shows. Since there is such a great consumption of music, it suits the producers to highlight them in promotional materials. The end point is that music gets priority and that’s a major factor in this argument.
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When it comes to writers in cinema, sadly, before Salim-Javed, writers hardly had any status, forget celebrity status. By nature, most writers are introverts. It is also demand and supply. When Salim-Javed delivered successes one after another, they managed to demand that status.
The scene nowadays is that writers are not perceived as celebrities in our country. Look at our literary scene. So when a film is up for promotion, it would rather flaunt celebrities like music composers and singers than writers.
Regrettably, we have very little respect for our writers and that shows in our films. But things are changing slowly. Now when writers are demanding their worth, they get it. I for one have given my writers proper credit, because the process of filmmaking starts with writing.
Having said that, we must look at our writing also. Most of our films are constantly recycling ideas. There are hardly films based on books or any published material. That’s the reason why we don’t write films like Gravity, where two characters floating in space can pull off such a spectacular and gripping film.
This lack of innovation must end. We need inventive ideas and scripts.
Rajat Arora (Screenwriter)
I personally feel that this is a misconception. With 15-second-long promos that usually focus on songs, they normally leave the writer’s name out. What sells is music, and hence music directors are an essential part of the promotion. Unfortunately, producers don’t think about writers. Our film award functions are the variety shows of the December 31st night kinds. Even if writers speak for just five-six words, it will be edited during broadcast.
It is unfair, no doubt. But to be fair, why only writers, every head of departments must be credited and promoted properly. In the larger scheme of things, the cinematographers, editors and everyone who contributes are an equally important part of filmmaking.
My theory is that a director starts working with a writer, and gradually when the process is finished, there are many people who have come into the picture. And by that time, they have forgotten where it actually started. Unfortunately, the person who started it all becomes the least important person.
Unlike Hollywood, writers were hardly important for Hindi cinema. Before Salim-Javed became star screenwriters, writers had to cite a reason to ask for money. Having said that, there are also writers who take unnecessary short cuts. For example, when a director refers to a certain scene of a film, the writers sometimes reproduce the same scene without any change.
Thankfully, the people I worked with were generous, they were conscious of giving a writer his worth. Now the scene is changing because of the media and forums like Twitter.
Now with the exposure to world cinema, new ideas are pouring in, which the audience is absorbing. This is making the existence of writers important.