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Writer’s Block

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It is the general opinion that the Bollywood film industry is going through a slump nowadays despite the occasional success of a movie like ‘Bhool Bhulaiya2’. In their stead, movies made in the South are proving rollicking block-busters, even with their dubbed versions in the Hindi-speaking North. Those in the know lay the blame for the failure of Hindi movies primarily on the lack of good writers, as also the ‘unfamiliarity’ of most people involved in the Industry with the language.

It is not necessary that films be ‘realistic’ – the present day blockbusters of the South offer testimony to that fact – but they have to be entertaining. For this, film-makers need to be in sync with the psyche of film-goers. The best way to do that is to be in touch with the people’s reality – they can ill-afford to be distanced from them because of their wealth or lifestyle. Successful filmmakers, therefore, should have the ability to recognise a good story and script. In the heyday of the film-industry, the great writers came from rustic and small-town backgrounds with personal experience of the common people’s lives and, more importantly, their dreams. Theatre had a great influence on movie-making so there were all the rasas present – from tragedy to humour. There always was a trend to steal stories from Hollywood, or imitate trends, but the ‘transliteration’ was done well. The social ethos was successfully maintained. Unfortunately, the lazy filmmakers of today can’t even do that and foolishly adopt content without the necessary adaptation.

The primary reason for the lack of good writers for the screen is the very poor remuneration. It may be noted that the sectors that have developed a graded economic structure from the grassroots up have gone on to become world-leaders – Cricket is a good example of that. The fact that writers are paid a pittance discourages most talented aspirants. Even a successful writer with hits under his or her belt remains low in the pecking order and not given enough credit. As a result, there is resort to gimmickry of all kinds and a tendency to focus solely on the perceived trend. At the present, for instance, it is the patriotic genre – all fire and fury, signifying nothing. Then there is the awful politics seeking to polarise the already reduced big screen viewers, when the focus should be on post-Covid recovery of what has been, otherwise, one of India’s most appreciated products worldwide.