Director Nila Madhab Panda and actor Pankaj Tripathi insisted that writers are getting their due in cinema now. They were speaking at a session titled ‘Redefining Stories’ at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Panjim, Goa, on 22 November.
Panda and Tripathi were joined by actresses Divya Dutta and Rajshri Deshpande, actor-producer-director Rahul Bose and cinematographer Aseem Bajaj at the session.
“If you see now, all writers and filmmakers are given priority,” Panda said. “If I do a film, the first thing is a contract and the stake of the writer in the making and credit. Even on this panel, I asked why there was no writer here.”
Dutta gave examples of celebrated film writers Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar and Gulzar whose films were known because of their writing. “They were stars. The times are changing. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t know who the writer is. But that’s changing,” she said.
However, Bose had a different opinion. Breaking down the reasons for writers getting stepmotherly treatment, Bose said, “The reasons writers are not given importance is because there is a belief that face-driven films will win no matter what the writing is, and half the time this is true. We have seen some very bad films, with some very, very charismatic famous stars. But the numbers come, and half of them don’t [do well].
“The question is: is that ratio going to change enough to give producers and directors a slap and say you have to get it written properly? I believe in the last 10 years they have got half-a-slap. It may not be greatly written, but at least written decently.”
He added that as long as audiences accept mediocre fare with big stars, the writers are going to have it bad. “It is the same in Hollywood. I know lots of writers getting the same treatment,” he said.