A couple of months ago,at the office of a top film studio in Mumbai,a group of creative heads sat together with a screenwriter in an informal business meeting. The two parties tried to reach a consensus on the kind of movies they could work on together. This continued through the day,meeting after meeting,where studio executives were introduced to one new writer after another. The Tulsea Writers Day is now a half-yearly fixture on every major film studios calendar and is one of the triumphs of Tulsea Pictures,the only talent management company for screenwriters in Bollywood. Even if the writers are not signed on immediately,these meetings help get them break through the fortified walls of studios.
Writers,unlike actors,dont appear on Page 3. You need to introduce them into the system,and thats what we try to do through these sessions, says Chaitanya Hegde,co-founder of Tulsea Pictures,who started the company along with Datta Dave. Within a couple of years since it started out,the companys clientele features the brightest of Hindi film screenwriters: from Akshat Verma of Delhi Belly,Anjum Rajabali of Rajneeti fame to Vikramaditya Motwane who co-wrote Dev D,and directed Udaan and Lootera.
With recent trends indicating that moderately budgeted,content-based films have prospects of great commercial returns,studios are seeking out genuine writing talent. Delhi Belly has been a major game-changer making Rs 100 crore on a budget of Rs 25 crore,which was followed by Vicky Donor and Kahaani.
But studios are still not getting the right kind of scripts. Producers complain that there are no good scripts,and good writers ask,where are the producers?. This is where we come in, says 41-year-old Hegde,sitting in a cafe in Bandra which works as their makeshift office. Their process of procuring clients is painstaking,where they scan through the work of 15,000-odd writers who have registered at the Film Writers Association to gauge a persons screenwriting skills. They even look up blog posts.
The real excitement of our job is identifying new talent that studios,producers and directors wont find otherwise, says Dave,who learnt his chops as the business manager for Shekhar Kapur. Be it a psychological thriller or a relationship-based story,Hegde and Dave claim to have a writer for all genres. Currently representing 23 writers,they are not only confined to Bollywood,but work with regional cinema as well.
Other than spotting good scripts,for the writers that are signed on,they also provide solid legal support over contracts with big studios,negotiate the best deals for them,and the company manages directors too. The good part about Tulsea is that they come from the writers side. They help a great deal in protecting your interests during negotiations that historically have been unfairly weighed towards the producers, says Verma,one of the companys first clients.
Given a chance,all writers would want to focus only on writing. Sometimes all these commercial aspects intimidate them. They are creative people,often with big egos,and have strong opinions,like kids, says Hegde,who was executive producer for filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra before.
Currently,the duo gets a cut from the deals made between writers and producers. They see this as a business model that can only get bigger and plan to expand internationally and even venture into advertisement,web and television content. Digitisation has made the business more democratic. If content is really the king,then we are here to stay, says 33-year-