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A reel-life conclave

Perhaps one of the largest events in India’s writing world, the 3rd Indian Screenwriters Conference will commence today, and over the next two days, is expected to host nearly 800 screenwriters and writer-directors. From giants like Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Ashutosh Gowariker, Govind Nihalani, Rakeysh Mehra to young talent including Juhi Chaturvedi (Vicky Donor), Urmi Juvekar (Shanghai), Bejoy Nambiar (David), Akshat Verma (Delhi Belly) and Pubali Chaudhuri (Kai Po Che!), the conference will be used as a platform for minds from the film and television world to discuss issues and areas of concern.


Kamlesh Pandey

“This movement of screenwriters coming together was a historical inevitability! Hence both the earlier conferences (attended by 275 and 575 writers, respectively) were significant breakthroughs. The first led to the revitalisation of Film Writers Association, which now functions like a proactive writers’ union. The second saw the collective push to regulate the producer-writer equation by introducing the concept of a minimum basic contract.

This apart, we always discuss creative issues, professional struggles, and the politics of screenwriting,” explains Anjum Rajabali, the convenor of the conference and writer behind films including Rajneeti and Ghulam.


Pubali Chaudhuri

The conference will focus on issues like why cinema and television are getting disconnected from India’s social reality, new work by young writers and the impact of the amended Copyright Act. “Cinema has always drawn creative inspiration from the struggles in society and reflected social reality in films. However, increasingly, this connection has become tenuous,” believes Rajabali.

The amended Copyright Act is a historical landmark, feels Kamlesh Pandey, General Secretary, Film Writers Association. “Earlier, contracts with producers were one sided. After years of struggle the amendment was passed in June 2012, finally making writers the authors of scripts. It gave us the right to royalty,” says Pandey, whose Rang De Basanti made waves in Indian cinema. “The conference will also look at how films and stories are changing. We have introduced a segment on writing for kids as well,” he adds.

“Such conferences are great platforms for writers to address issues that concern them. It is great to have such events where writer’s rights are noticed. The conference looks at creative and business issues, offering a space for healthy dialogues. For young writers like us, it’s terrific as we have people to guide us if we are stranded across a host of issues,” summarises Pubali Chaudhuri, whose Kai Po Che! opened in cinemas, last Friday.

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