How did you sell your first screenplay?
My first credited screenplay ‘Mere Yaar Ki Shadi Hai’ (2002) was a commissioned script. My name was proposed by Sanjay Gadhvi, the director of the film, who I had assisted on his first film.
Aditya Chopra, the head at Yashraj Films and one of India’s most successful directors, met me once at the behest of Sanjay Gadhvi and apparently told him immediately after I left : ‘The boy is an asset. Take him.’
But this was the end of my struggle as a writer. Not the begginnng. I got to be inside the offices of YRF after 8 years of struggling as a writer-filmmaker. I guess, what you want to know is how does a writer get his/her first break. So here’s my story.
Ahmedabad. 1995-96. Still in college, I was a theatre enthusiast doing music compilations and SFx operating for various shows. I also ghost directed a few plays. I was also the only convent educated, English literature major, probably the most well read young theatre person at the time there. I was affable, friendly, very optimistic and generally fun to hang around with. Everyone was my friend.
So one day, in the parking lot of a theatre, while sitting on scooters, I was telling one of the play actors, an idea for a play that I had. Two scooters away, a make up artist was listening to it. Two days later, while I was having my morning chai at my regular chai wala outside the hostel, the same makeup guy passed on his bike, spotted me, took a U-turn and came back.
‘Sit behind!’ He hollered.
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘We’re going to office.’
‘Your office. Where you will work now. I got a job for you.’
I kept looking at him.
‘You are a writer, no?’
Now this is the point that changed everything in my life. A complete stranger was looking at me in the eye and asking if I was a writer. I was looking inside my soul and asking the same thing to myself. Was I?
And all those nights when I’d been up, tossing and turning over ideas, haunted by visions and tormented by the restless energy bubbling in the cauldron of my head sprang up to me. I had my own private hell in my head. Thought-demons pursued me day and night. ‘This should be like that. That should’ve been like this.’
What do you do when you are unhappy with everything around you but you can do nothing about it? You pick up a pen (oh those days we wrote with pen) and bleed your dreams on paper. Did I do that? Every fucking night, sir. Every fucking night.
‘Hey! I’m asking you. You write, no?’
‘I’m the most fantastic writer on this planet sir!’
Two months later, my name was scrolling on TV screens across the state.
That’s how I became a screenwriter.
*The question & its reply were first published on Quora