'See, my students don't forget me' - I told my spouse triumphantly. We had of late been discussing my (skewed) priorities in life, and I had been losing the argument much too often.
(the balloon's inflated state was to be partially altered later, when I saw that my claims to fame were embedded in a hurrying, rolling set of end-credits)
"Siddharth - The Prisoner", a feature film by Pryas Gupta, was released last friday. Pryas is an ex-student of mine and this story was originally going to be his diploma project, and I was going to be his academic guide. The year was 2005.
Time, as is its chronic habit, passed. Meanwhile we did discuss several early drafts of his film's script. Some samples -
Saturday, July 02, 2005
I have just read the first draft of your script. I quite like it. In fact, it has all the possibilities of evolving into a very engaging & sensitive piece of work.
My guess is, it will take you around 45 minutes or more, to tell this story, in its present form.
I think the two principal characters are well imagined, along with the plot, setting, mood and conflict. However, the film will gain if you reduce the gangster action/externally manifested action elements as much as possible, especially towards the end (the threat of action or action offscreen with an air of uncertain outcome is more powerful).
Possibly, the CITY can play an even greater role in the development of the narrative, character and emotional tone.
The old man friend of Roy is necessary and useful for the development of the story, but the context/logic of his existence is not sufficiently seemless. The wife who deserted Roy needs to be a stronger presence (in her absence).
Its not really important to know what Roy and Mohan actually did, after discovering the mutual cheating. Obtusely hinted, uncertain, future directions could work better.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I read your reworked script. It reads well. Some of the changes/additions you have done (children bursting crackers in front of cyber cafe, bai and her lover, KBC and Aastha channel, Bai walking past Mohan and the Guard, Mohan pulling the trigger but no bullet, old book with dried flowers, etc) work well as well.
However, the proposed length (90 mins) seems long for the story. I still think 45-60 mins will be ideal.
Why does Mohan blow in the ear of a co-passenger in the local train, in the beginning ? What do you want to establish and why ?
Why do the wind chimes rattle as the Writer walks in the cyber cafe (and, why wind chimes) ?
The initial Bai sequences (2 stealings and a lover) are ok. But the last one, after 15 days, when she says she is not coming back, is unnecessarily schematic.
The initial Mohan and his sister Geeta sequence is inconsistent in terms of Mohan's state of mind. And Geeta is unnecessarily cute.
The Old Man (mysterious family friend of Writer) still seems deliberately put in, only to move the plot forward. His existence in this story and his characterisation seem awkward.
The Writer getting into a wordy explanation - "Galti meri hi thi - mein kitaab time par khatam nahin kar paya..." seems out of character.
Neha and Anita being definitely dead is not such a nice thing. Uncertainty about their whereabouts and welfare would have been more powerful.
The coincidence of the Writer buying Ganja from Bai Lover is very schematic. So is Rosy Bar 500-rupee like flyer.
The end is a confusing maze. The Writer tends to Mohan but cheats him - why ? Has the Bai taken all the money - very convenient (therefore, not nice). Mohan cheats Writer but does not cheat the Gangster - why ? The Writer chooses not to open the manuscript, after cheating Mohan for it - why ?
Monday, December 19, 2005
A quick reply. I read your latest script once. I plan to read it once more soon before giving you my feedback in some detail. But the script already sounds pretty good. You improve with each draft.
The budget seems quite ambitious. Where are you getting the money from ? Are you planning a proper feature film, etc. ?