One of the many good things of being a struggling/aspiring screen writer is that you get to interact with a lot of people on a daily basis(read producers and industry technicians).I have been fortunate to meet a couple of producers and have had the opportunity to narrate my 'stories' to them.While most of them have been very much supportive,for some reason or the other,none of the projects have taken off,yet.One of the common comments which I get from them,soon after I finish narrating my story goes like this-
"Well,nikhilesh,your story has got content in it.It's 'different'(that word is slowly but surely becoming my most hated word in the dictionary!) too,but the thing is,I feel it's a bit dark and it will be better if you can tone down a bit,make it more 'feel-good'.Why can't you write something like an 'Ustad Hotel' or a 'Bangalore Days'?I think,you can do it.People prefer feel-good entertainers to suspense thrillers!".
Those of you,who are not into watching South Indian Movies in general (and malayalam movies in particular) might not have heard about the two afore mentioned films.Don't worry,let me enlighten you.Both the movies are (obviously) in Malayalam (an Indian regional language/Kerala),the former got released a couple of years back,while the latter came out last year.Both were big critical and commercial successes (Ustad Hotel also managed to win the National Award for the Best Popular Film,that year) and the most interesting thing is that they were written by the same person,who was more or less a newbie in the Malayalam film industry when 'Ustad Hotel' got released in 2012.I'm sure atleast some of you will definitely be surprised if I add on that the person in question is not an XY,but an XX by name Anjali Menon,(now don't be eager to label me as one sexist jerk,for I was only stating the obvious!)who didn't have any big Godfathers in the industry and rose to fame by sole virtue of talent.In a male dominated and highly competitive industry like Cinema,where even getting a decent 'entry/launch' itself is quite difficult,Anjali with her creativity and sheer talent has not only managed to get two Blockbuster scripts to her credit,but also carved a niche for herself in the Malayalam filmdom within a short span of time.
It's the inherent honesty in her stories and the presence of genuine,believable characters in it that make her scripts quite different from the routine,mundane stuff which hits the screens every other friday.Be it the naive,yet funny Krishnan P.P (played by the charming Nivin Pauly) in Bangalore Days or the rustic but confused Faisy (an effective Dulquer Salman)in Usthad Hotel, her characters have always been tangible and believable.Infact even her short(Happy Journey) in Ranjith's anthology,Kerala Cafe had a very cunning and powerful character portrayed very efficiently by Nithya Menon.
Okay,writing can be dismissed as a somewhat solitary pursuit,but directing movies(which calls for controlling dozens of men in the unit)is definitely not one.It indeed calls for a great degree of inter-personal and managerial skills and loads of patience.Anjali's recent hit(as a writer-director),'Bangalore Days' was one of the biggest Malayalam movies in recent times,in terms of it's budget as well as it's star cast.A noted production executive who works in the Malayalam film industry told me recently that how Anjali managed to co-ordinate and execute such a 'big' project meticulously and flawlessly is still a mystery for him.He was definitely not being 'sexist' or anything when he said that,but was simply reminding me about the difficulties of making costly movies in a small film industry like Malayalam where there is every chance of the project getting stalled/shelved mid-way because of financial constrains.Infact,making 'big' budget movies is something which even the veteran film directors here dread for the obvious (financial)risk and the logistical issues associated with them.The fact that Anjali succeeded in pursuing and fulfilling her dreams without compromising on her family and duties towards them is undoubtedly an inspiring thing for many of the talented females out there,who had to 'sacrifice' their ambitions,dreams and passion for societal and familial pressures.Had she not followed her instincts and not joined the London Film School and worked towards her ambition,Malayalam Cinema wouldn't have got a powerful,highly successful writer-director.
This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus
I am nominating 'Red Handed' of 'The Red Handed Blog' to write a post on the same topic.