This week, I’m going through that nightmare every columnistexperiences at some time or the other — writer’s block. My head is muddled with half-thoughts and my fingers are frozen over my laptop keys. So I decide to try my approach to break free of this most annoying of maladies with research. My plan is to talk to a variety of wordsmiths, and see if they’ve ever had writer’s block. How did they cope?
My first interviewee is the most prolific writer in the last 100 years — William Shakespeare. I meet him in his Stratford on Avon study. “William, old chap, what do you think about writer’s block?” I ask. “Ah, it’s much ado about nothing,” he says. “Fair enough, but in your illustrious career, have you ever had the problem?”
“Old boy, 38 plays and 154 sonnets in 24 years…are you a knave, a fool, an idiot, to ask such an inane question of me?” Clearly, alls well didn’t end very well with this interview, so I retreated from London to Mumbai and decided to catch up with our own homegrown best selling author — Chetan Bhagat.
“Mr Bhagat, can we chat?” I begin. “Dude, listen, I have only one hour to write my next novel, so say fast, what’s the query?”
“How do you cope with writer’s block?” “Huh, what’s that? Some intellectual angst-ridden concept that writers like Salman Rushdie and those other people who come to the Jaipur Literature Festival, go through? I don’t have the time to have writer’s block.”
I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I decided to open out my investigation and speak to screenwriters and filmmakers who might have run out of ideas in their careers. I encountered Anurag Kashyap, writer/director and leader of the Hindipendent movement. “Anurag, what do you do when you experience writer’s block?”
“Yaar, I just make a sequel of the film I’ve just made. So Gangs of Wasseypur is followed by Gangs of Wasseypur Part 2, then 3, soon four. No problem.”
My next stop is that big time Bollywood producer, Karan Johar. “Karan, how do you manage to deal with a drought of ideas?” He gives me a Koffee With Karan smile and says, “I have one story to tell, I just repeat it again and again, with a different star cast.”
I am downcast. Am I the only person who has a paucity of ideas, I wonder. Let me speak to some TV luminaries, I think. I meet the lovely Ekta Kapoor. “Madam, what do you do when you run out of ideas?” I ask her.
Pat comes her answer — “I just add a K to the name of the serial. It brings me luck.” My phone rings. It is Ram Gopal Varma. “Hello, eh da Cunha, I believe you are taking research, asking all the people about this writer’s block chakkar, why didn’t you call me for my views?” “Because RGV, judging from your recent spate of films, we the audience, hope that you soon have a bout of writer’s block.”
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.