'TV caters mostly to women, not men'

If writers are calm and soft-spoken by design, then Rajat Arora very much fits the bill. Best known for penning the National Award-winning The Dirty Picture, the Delhi-born filmwriter brought dialoguebaazi back with Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai. Excited about its sequel, he feels catchy dialogues like “Entertainment. Entertainment. Entertainment” are what make a film click and ensure posterity. In a tete-a-tete, the Kandivli-based wordsmith sheds light on the state of writers in the industry before admitting his love for penning lyrics.

Film writer Rajat Arora
Rajat Arora, who wrote the story and lyrics of the National Award-winning film The Dirty Picture and re-invented dialoguebaazi with Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, at his Kandivli residence. PIC/Nimesh Dave 

As a writer, what changes have you seen in the film industry?
(Pauses) Gone are the days when writers were undervalued because the industry today is looking for good scripts. So I don’t see why anybody would want to antagonise the writer, of all people! Moreover, there is a misconception doing the rounds that a script keeps changing because of the director’s interference. What happens is so many departments add their inputs while the film is being made that finally the movie seems different from the initial script.

That sounds encouraging for the young writers.
Absolutely! The fresh blood should be encouraged in whatever ways possible because they always bring something new to the table. And they must be assured that Bollywood is not a bad place -- where people steal each other’s idea -- to work in. I genuinely feel that writers are the faceless backbones and they ought to be supported.

Is writing a sequel much easier than writing a non-sequel?
It’s easy as well as tough. The very reason sequels are made is the confirmation from the audience’s end that they liked certain things about the first film. When Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai did well, we were glad but now there is additional pressure and expectation. You don’t want the fans to feel cheated. They come to cinema halls expecting something new and if you show them the same stuff you showed them the last time, it’s not done. That’s the challenging part. In Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai Dobara, the language remains the same but almost everything else varies.

You’ve also penned all the songs for your next like you did for The Dirty Picture.
I wanted to be a lyricist when I started off (smiles). In fact, I had several songs ready when I moved to Mumbai but then, like most others, I couldn’t get a break. However, one day I met Shridhar (Raghavan, filmwriter) who asked me whether I’d like to write for a TV horror show called Aahat. And that’s how I moved from songwriting to scriptwriting.

So what do you enjoy more: writing scripts or lyrics?
I enjoy all forms of writing -- even dialogues -- but coming up with lyrics is therapeutic. It’s not even work as you simply enjoy the moments while you’re writing a song. You are much more relaxed than while composing the dialogues or a screenplay.

You started off with television. What do you think of its current status?
I keep reading the word ‘regressive’ in reference to the shows that are running on our television nowadays. To me, that’s too heavy a word because the daily soaps may seem old-fashioned to some viewers but they are garnering high TRPs because of their strong audience base. There are different programmes for different people and you’re going to watch what you like, not what others think you should like. The real problem with television today is it caters mostly to women, not men (laughs). 

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