Writers block-ed?

Feb 15, 2012, 10:16 IST | Mauli Singh and Shakti Shetty

'Rockstar' co-writer, Muazzam Beg is miffed as no one bothered to inform him about being nominated for an award and even after winning it. We find out why most writers are disgruntled with the way the industry treats them...

'Rockstar' co-writer, Muazzam Beg is miffed as no one bothered to inform him about being nominated for an award and even after winning it. We find out why most writers are disgruntled with the way the industry treats them...

Rockstar co-writer Mauzzam Beg who won an award for the best screenplay along with Imtiaz Ali at a recent function held at Macau is upset that he wasn't informed about the nomination or about winning the award, let alone being invited there.

A still from Rockstar

He vents his anger saying, "I was told by few friends that my name had been announced at an award function by Vidya Balan on the stage and Imtiaz Ali went to collect the trophy. Even nominees were invited. As far as I know, the invitation to attend an award comes from the organiser's end.

In this case, they neither informed me about my nomination, nor did they invite me and I wasn't even told that I had won the award. They didn't even have the courtesy to call me after the award and apologise. I am sure they thought it wasn't worth spending so much money on a writer."

Writer Muazzam Beg

Beg goes on to add, "I am passionate about films since childhood. When my family saw the awards show, they called me and started asking why I wasn't there? I didn't know what to tell them.  I felt very bad. It was an emotional moment for me. I felt very hurt that I was denied the pleasure of something that I rightfully deserved."

No appreciation for originality!
The writer who got the royal snub by the producers and the organisers rues, "Why are writers treated like this? We keep cribbing that scripts are cliched and inspired by Hollywood and when someone has attempted an original script, he should at least get some appreciation."

Bollywood vs Hollywood
Beg feels that the writers in Bollywood don't get as much respect as they get in Hollywood. He points out, "Since Hollywood films are releasing simultaneously in India no one is interested in watching their bad remakes.

Imtiaz Ali at the awards event

That is the reason Players (remake of The Italian Job) didn't work." He cites examples of good scripts and adds, "Taare Zameen Par, Rang De Basanti, Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara crossed the R 100 cr mark because they had strong scripts."

Are writers recognised in Bollywood?
The writer says, "Earlier, we had respected writers like Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (Raj Kapoor's writer), Sahir Ludhianvi, Rahi Masoom Raza but writers are not valued anymore. After the '80s I don't think any screenwriter earned as much respect as the writer-duo Salim (Khan) Javed (Akhtar).

Beg who has been part of the industry for the last 10 years and recently directed his first film Sadda Adda admits, "I was paid well for both the films I wrote, Swami for Ganesh Acharya and Rockstar with Imtiaz but if you ask the share we get out of the entire budget of the film, it is really sad."
Comparing the situation with Hollywood he adds, "The writers in Hollywood get a percentage of the total budget of the film but in India there is no such system in place." He proposes that the writer should be paid at least five per cent of the total budget of the movie.

Director Imtiaz Ali did not revert to our texts. The spokesperson of the channel that organised the awards says, "Cineyug (the event management company) are in charge of inviting people from the industry."

Mohammed Morani from Cineyug says, "We normally don't interfere in the awards segment. We are only the event organisers.  The channel gives us a list of people to be invited and we send invites to them."

Other writers voice their opinion

Akshat Verma (writer of Delhi Belly)
"Here, people are risk-averse. They'd rather get an item song included in lieu of something the original screenplay demanded."

Advaita Kala (Kahaani is based on her book Almost Single)
"A movie is a collaborative project. A writer alone isn't doing all the hard work. But a writer's interest has to be taken care of too."

Sudhish Kamath (writer-director of Good Night Good Morning)
"Writers get paid. They just don't get the credit. Anyway, most of the writers in our industry write just for the sake of it."

Neeraj Ghaywan (writer-director of the short film Shor)
"Once your story reaches a director, your equation with him/her makes a lot of difference."

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