For Ritesh Shah, it’s been more than a decade in the film industry. He has given some of the darkest, spirited and memorable films as a writer. With films like Kahaani, Namaste London, BA Pass, D-Day, Teen and Airlift, Ritesh’s foot is placed at the right place in the industry. He is coming again with a different color in his film this time – Pink. While Pink is collecting compliments from everywhere, we met with the screenwriter of the film, who deserves some of it as well.
Ritesh talks to Bollywoodirect that why Pink was made. Who thought of it? How important is it for us to watch it? At the same time, we don’t just stick to his films but try to bring out a little bit of him too in the conversation.
Q: How did the idea emerge in your mind to write PINK?
A: This idea actually came out from director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. He had this story about three girls but it was based out of Calcutta. Then, everyone, including producers, I and the director decided that it would be appropriate to set the story in Delhi. That is how we went forward with the story.
Q: You have strong female characters in all the films that you have written? Where does this inspiration of building such characters come from?
A: From life itself, I believe. We meet so many people in our lives. They must have shown some kind of strength as a woman or as an individual. We pick them from our lives only. It is obviously sometimes a mix of reality in imagination when we write. We choose and break stereotypes. You tell a story of a girl who is a bit conservative but you put a strong character in her place.
In Pink’s case as well we made sure that we don’t picture modernity in dressing or anything else but reflect modernity of thought. With that in mind, we made a choice of the characters. It was a conscious decision to take one girl from north-east. We wanted to reach out to that part of the country as well. Women from north-east face a lot of discrimination.
All the characters in the film are life-like. Yes, the character played by Tapsee Pannu is still a bit fictional but you can meet most of the characters at different places in your life.
Q: Coming back to you for a while, it’s been more than a decade for you in the Hindi film industry. You have come a long way. How did the journey begin?
A: I was actually a playwright based out of Delhi. I used to work with Act One theater group. Our group used to travel a lot between Delhi and Mumbai. So, at one point, we were offered to turn one of the Act One plays into a movie.
Q: Which film was it?
A: It never happened (laughs). Although I had come with the script of that particular play but it did not workout. Also, it was not the right time to write what I was capable of doing. Some good things were happening in Television where writers were being hired. I did some good shows. Again, I could not cope with the kind of writing I was asked to do as a different genre came in Television. So, I shifted back to films.
There was a period when nothing worked for me, except Namaste London, which was my second film. Even after Namaste London, nothing worked for a long time. The second phase of the decade worked for me. When Kahaani happened, BA Pass and other films came.
Q: How long was the struggle period?
A: Between 2005 and 2010, I had just one hit Namaste London. Apart from that nothing much worked. Force was the first film which was appreciated in 2012.
Q: Coming back to Pink now. Do you believe that a film like Pink, with its message enveloped in its content, would it be able to bring a change in the society?
A: As a writer, it’s always the one in a billion that we want to find. We know that films won’t change people. But we always want to catch that one person, who feels what you say but has not been able to articulate it. So, if you manage to change one person in a million, then it is a great average.
Q: Thrilling moments are there in all your films. Do we see that in Pink as well?
A: It is a social dramatic thriller and the element of the thrill will be there. The thrill is a guise. It is the sugar coated outer layer. People enjoy watching thrillers. So, entertainment has to be the guise. What you want to say is inside but how you say it is important. A Thriller is a very good way of putting things.
Q: Who was your inspiration while you grew up as a writer?
A: A lot of people have come into film writing only because of Salim-Javed. As a young fan, I have enjoyed many of their films. Even now, I enjoy their work. In those days, we did not know any other writers because they were the only ones who were famous. But then, certain writers from outside this part of the world had a great impression on me.
Q: As someone who just goes and watches films, it might not be important but then there are people who read the credits and see the screenwriter’s name in the end. The one question that is raised is how does a screenwriter work?
A: Everybody has an individual process. Nobody should function like anyone else in writing. But there are a few basic common things. And luckily when you watch cinema, it gets ingrained. So, you start with an idea and then you write is a story. You see if it has the ability to be converted into a long movie or not. Once you feel that it can extend up to that level, then you take it forward. Now, that taking forward differs from person to person. As far as I am concerned, I visualize as I write. I see how events are unfolding in front of my eyes. If I write at the beginning, I see headlights of the car, I write this scene on the paper. If I feel the character wants to say something then I will put that line down. It is like what the audience is going to watch is what I am watching right now.
Q: Out of all the filmmakers, you have worked with, who would you choose the one you will want to work with for again and again?
A: If you will look at my career, you will see that all my directors have repeated me. There are different advantages that they have and there are different equations that you have with each one of them. This is my first film with Rising Suns Films and I would like to see us playing a long innings.
Nishikant, Sujoy, Vipul, Nikhil, now Raja I have worked with all of them twice or thrice.
Q: Your next release?
A: It is Kahaani 2.
Q: What to expect from it?
A: I expect it to be again a strong story of a woman. It runs on the same storyline which has deeply-felt, emotional elements. I have just written the dialogues of the film, it is Sujoy who has written the film but I feel it’s better than Kahaani even.
Q: Any other project, apart from Kahaani 2?
A: We are working on an adaptation of Chef – a Hollywood film. Saif Ali Khan is acting, Raja Menon of Airlift is directing. It is the same team which took out Airlift.
Interview By: Shubham Pandey