“This is the writers’ year” said Quentin Tarantino while receiving his Oscar last month. And Anjum Rajabali wholeheartedly agrees to this. The writer of the upcoming Satyagraha and recent films like Aarakshan, Raajneeti and Apaharan, Anjum feels another New Wave is in progress. In a frank conversation, the 54-year-old sheds some light on obscure topics and helps us read between the lines...
You’ve worked extensively with Prakash Jha. Why not the others?
There are so many of them! (Pauses) I’d love to work with Mani Ratnam again but he never asks me (laughs).
Is it a conscious decision to write only politically-charged films?
(Laughs) When you say it’s political, it means the story in question is affecting everyone. To me, it’s like assimilating different thoughts into one. Besides, the industry today is open to ideas. To give you an example, I wrote Chakravyuh in 1995 but nobody was interested in it back then. But nowadays, there are brave souls who love challenges so I think I’m just capitalising on this change in attitude.
And what has been the biggest change that you’ve observed over the years?
We are more open to influences now. The level of insularity has decreased. Gone are the days of parallel cinema where the Shyam Benegals, Mani Kauls and Govind Nihalanis were busy creating their artsy films. The bandwidth has widened and an Ardh Satya -- if made today -- will look very different from the original one. Earlier, the profession of a writer with his jhola was very blurred. Now things are more sophisticated. For every 100 films made, there are 5000 scripts at work! The quality has sprung up.
This includes the established novelists as well?
Obviously. You see books being adapted for the big screen and those particular films are making lots of money at the box office. Who wouldn’t want to work with these writers? On top of that, the Writers Association -- taking a cue from Writers Guild in the US -- is fighting for minimum wage, job security, copyright protection, royalties and whatnot. It’s an amazing time to be a screenwriter.