Screenwriting Is the Most Important Thing in Filmmaking

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By Shweta Das 

Kolkata : One of the speakers who stole the limelight on the sixth Day of #MediaNext 2020 that focused on Cinema in the Digital Age was Bejoy Nambiar, a renowned Indian director, producer and a screenwriter. 

#MediaNext 2020 is being organised by the Kolkata-based Adamas University in association with Sharda University, Birla Global University, DME, AIMEC, Lok Samvad Sansthan, exchange4media, ABP education and IndiaReal.in, The mega online conclave is being held over a period of 10 days from June 1, 2020 to June 10, 2020. Each day of the conclave focuses on one specialized domain of the Media and the Environment (M&E) industry and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on that specific domain.

The experimental Bejoy Nambiar spoke next and started through his own journey in the world of movies. Bejoy Nambiar marked his foray into commercial cinema with the critically acclaimed ‘Shaitan’ in 2011. His latest Hindi directorial venture was ‘Wazir’ starring Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Bejoy is the winner of Sony Pix’s filmmaking reality show ‘Gateway to Hollywood’. Bejoy has also directed such appreciated short films as ‘Rahu’ and ‘Reflections’.

Bejoy Nambiar spoke about his whole journey in the film industry. He was from a business family and his father had a textile business. Therefore, he studied business management so that he can look after his family business. He was in Bengaluru and was grooming himself for the business. Besides, he joined a theatre club there. He wrote his first play and his mentor guided him. After he succeeded in his first play, he made this into a hobby. 

He got an opportunity in New York to extend his father’s business and there he also got an opportunity to enroll in the New York Film Academy. His interest compelled him to make short films and thus it became a hobby. He landed in America, where he got into an argument with the immigration officer-in-charge. The immigration authority there did not understand the purpose of his visit and his Visa got cancelled. He was this deported back to his hometown and his dream to complete the course did not materialize. 

After many years, he started writing short stories and therefore ended up with 10 short stories and 10 short films. He started making those short films slowly. He tried making the short movies with the little budget that he had. He started with simple things. He managed to get a good technician from whom he learnt many things. In his wish list, there was an actor named Mohan Lal with whom he always wanted to make a film and finally got the chance. He started spending a lot of money in promoting short films through DVDs and YouTube uploads. 

Then, slowly he started applying for the big screen where he failed many times but did not lose hope and finally got a chance. He also started writing scripts and also acted in the big screen and learnt his best. 

Starting from theatre to short films to the big screen was not an easy journey. After completing all his hurdles, he finally made a film named ‘Shaitan’ in 2011. Then, in 2013, he made ‘David’, where he was the director, the producer and the writer. In 2014, he made ‘Pizza’, which was a successful movie and then he started making Tamil and Malayalam movies.

According to Bejoy, the maximum importance needs to be given to screenwriting as that is exactly where the entire process of filmmaking starts. He stressed on the importance of understanding what the audience wants and then modifying the content of the movies according to that.

Although Bejoy doesn’t believe in censorship for OTT platforms, he also referred to the peril of excessive leeway being taken by many OTT platforms in showcasing explicit content. On what exactly is the difference between OTT platforms and cinema, Bejoy said that OTT platforms allow binge watching, which is not possible in a movie theater. 

In the Question and Answer round, he was asked about how to become a successful director or a writer. He answered, “To become a successful director or a writer, there are many opportunities. Students need to enroll for film courses. There are many courses through which you can learn many things. One needs to groom oneself and should have the basic skills. Also, if someone is a beginner, he/ she should work under a filmmaker, from where he or she can gain the knowledge. To become a writer, one must have good depth in writing or can go for online courses or can start writing short stories and poems”.

Bejoy concluded by saying that the film industry has indeed been impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown but how it bounces back would largely depend on how the pandemic pans out in the next two months.

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