A self-taught writer, Vipul Rawal has come a long way from the seas he once navigated as a member of the Indian Navy. He decided to pursue a career in screenwriting and, after years of struggle, his efforts bore fruit, bringing him accolades and recognition.
At the Diorama film festival, Rawal shared his journey in Hindi cinema while speaking about the challenges he faced to become a successful screenwriter.
His previous work, Rustom (2016), was based loosely on the celebrated KM Nanavati case and featured Akshay Kumar and Ileana D’Cruz.
Rawal described the twists and turns he had to navigate to get people from the industry to read his script and work on it. Despite having a bound script, it took seven years for Rustom to be made and released!
At the same time, he cited examples from his work like Iqbal (2005) and Batti Gul Meter Chalu (2018) to reveal how a writer’s vision is altered or even mauled when some directors decide to change the script. In the case of the former film, the intervention of director Nagesh Kukunoor enhanced the script, but in the case of the latter, the script was changed for the worse, prompting Rawal to even withdraw his name [he is credited as original story concet writer for Batti Gul Meter Chalu).
He also spoke about the tremendous effort one has to make to realize one’s dreams in the film industry, emphasizing that one needs to be resolute and dogged to achieve one’s goals.
Speaking about the craft of screenwriting, especially in current times, where a lot of emphasis is being placed on content, he said, “Storytelling keeps changing, so one has to evolve with the times. You should not be ahead of your times, you should be with the times.”
But he added that “it is an exciting time to be a scriptwriter if you can think originally”.
Rawal has written a bestselling book on the methodology of screenwriting in Hindi, published by Rajkamal Prakashan. He stressed on the need for writers to know their audiences. “You have to write what people can identify with,” he said, adding that he believes in catering to the majority instead of making films for a niche audience.
Rawal’s directorial debut Tony (2019) was screened at the Diorama film festival.