Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Tamil Screenplay - Updates and a snippet

In line with my previous post on my Tamil screenplay writing, I went about trying to get it read. This post is an update on my brief efforts; it will hopefully be useful for other writers. The end of this post summarizes what I learned. It also has a scene from the script.

Initial Approaches

I was not sure who to approach first. A contact gave me an opening with Director Radha Mohan (Mozhi, Azhagiya Theeye). I had a long conversation with him.
The director said that he wrote his own scripts. He did not really need a scriptwriter, as such. He asked me about the kind of story. He said period films need star power for budget - someone like Surya or Vikram. I said my story did not have much heroic scope built in.

After this, I approached UTV, the production house. Their movie wing has a creative person, Ramya, who reviews scripts. I called her.
Ramya said first that they were currently full with releases. But she also asked me who I was working with. I said that I was just a writer, and want my script to be reviewed. Ramya said that this was not the way things worked. They work with directors, not writers. She said an assistant director or director would come to them with a story and then she would review it. She could not simply take a script and go look for a director.
This confused me. In Hollywood, usually the process starts with a scriptwriter. The writer sends the script through an agent to a production house (such as Columbia or 20th Century Fox). The production house, if interested, concludes a deal with the writer; and then they go looking for directors.

I also heard about FoxStar movies, a new formation between 20th century Fox and Star Movies, located in Mumbai. They were the producers of the recent hit, "Engeyum Eppozhudhum". I read an interview by the director of that movie, and decided to call them.
Fox Star's head of development is Neerja Narayanan. I could reach her directly (she is on LinkedIn, by the way; These are pretty corporate people).
They asked me to send a English synopsis. They also wanted my biodata. I sent it to them, but there has not been any response.


After this, I realized there must be something fundamentally wrong in my understanding. I got clarity after having two discussions.
The first one was with a young actor, who is also a relative (He was in the movie Enthiran).
He asked me to go get the movie industry directory, called Variety. It is available in Landmark, in the Cinema section. It has a list of the contacts of all directors, producers, actors, and technicians and so on.
He said that the "writer" did not exist in the Tamil film industry. There were directors, and all of them had their own stories. He had heard that M.Sasikumar (Subramaniapuram) and Samuthirakkani were known to look at raw stories, but that was it. All assistant directors generally had five or six stories.
He said I could contact the directors, and work with them on dialog. There was really only two ways a pure writer could get their script made into a film - if they were close friends with a director, and the director decided to give them credit. The second was if the story had a lot of heroism and a big star wanted to use it. Then they could get a director to make a movie out of it.

My second conversation was with Madhan Karkky, the young dialog writer and lyricist for Enthiran and Shankar's upcoming Nanbargal.
We met in a coffee shop and talked about the scope for script writing for half an hour.
Madhan said that the Tamil industry had no "pure" scriptwriters, as such. If you had a script, you usually wanted to direct it yourself. No director in this industry directs other people's scripts. That kind of process just did not exist.
If I wanted to be a writer, he suggested that there were a couple of options to consider. one was to contact Malayalam film directors, who used scriptwriters. (For example K.Hariharan uses M.T.Vasudevan Nair). The second was to become a dialog writer for directors. This can be done if I had a portfolio, in which I could have a few different scenes sketched out. I could seek appointments with directors. He said they did not like recommendations. So, this process could take many months.
Even if I became a dialog writer, I cannot really make a movie out of my script, unless I became a director.

Summary and Future
It is, thus, weird, that I am a scriptwriter in an industry that does not really use scriptwriters. Hindi and malayalam industries use scriptwriters extensively. But not Tamil. That is how the industry has evolved.
I am not very sure what to do at this point. I already have my next story in mind, but what is the point of writing it if nobody ever makes a movie out of it? I am pretty sure I do not want to be a director.
A tiny part of me tells me that this is how things are for beginners. After all, every director, and every technician out there has seen so many disappointments. Radha Mohan struggled for 15 years to direct his first movie. In fact, his first movie "Smile Please" never saw the light of the day.
If anyone has better information for me or any aspiring writer, please post in comments.
I have below a brief snippet from my script:

வெளிப்புறம் - சாத்தூர் கிராமத்து தெரு - பகல்
வழுதியும் பெருமாளும் மெதுவாக குதிரையில் அந்த வீதியைத் தாண்டித் திரும்புகிறார்கள். பக்கத்து வீதியில் சிறு வீடுகள். சுற்றித் தோட்டங்கள். வீடுகளின் இடையே மரக் குச்சியால் வேலிகள் வைத்து இருக்கிறார்கள்.
தெருவில் போகிற வருகிறவர்கள் நின்று குதிரை வீரர்களை நிமிர்ந்து பார்க்கிறார்கள்.
அந்தத் தெருவின் முடிவில், ஒரு வீடு தெரிகிறது. அதன் தோட்டத்தில் தருமன் குழி தோண்டிக் கொண்டிருக்கிறான். வீரர்கள் இருவரும் சற்று நேரம் நின்று அவனைப் பார்க்கிறார்கள்.
உள்ளிருந்து நாகை வெளியே வருகிறாள்.

என்னப்பா செய்கிறாய்? இவ்வளவு பெரிய குழி தோண்டி இருக்கிறாய்?

தருமன் அவர்களை நிமிர்ந்து பார்க்கிறான். பிறகு, மண்வெட்டியை பக்கத்தில் வைத்து விட்டு நிற்கிறான்.
பெரிய கதை அய்யா. என் தாத்தா ஒரு அருமையான நூல் எழுதினாராம். அதை எங்கோ புதைத்து விட்டதாகக் கேள்வி. அது தான் தேடுகிறேன்.
அப்படி என்ன நூல் எழுதினார்? காம சாத்திரமோ?

தருமன் சிரிக்கிறான்.

காம சாத்திரமாக இருந்தால் இந்நேரம் இந்தத் தெரு முழுவதும் தோண்டி இருப்பேன்.

பெருமாள் சிரிக்கிறான்.


நீங்கள் அரசரின் படை வீரர்களா?

மெய்காப்பாளர்கள். ஆபத்துதவிகள் என்று கேட்டிருக்கிறீர்கள?


ஆமாம். அரசருக்காக உயிரையே கொடுப்பவர்கள்.

அதே தான்.


இவருக்கு கூட அரசாங்க வேலை கிடைத்தால் நன்றாக இருக்கும்

ஏன்? இப்போது உன் தொழில் என்ன?

தருமன் நாகையை முறைக்கிறான்.

இவர் சோதிடர்

(வழுதியைக் காட்டி)
இவனுக்கு எப்போது கல்யாணம் ஆகும் சொல்லேன்? எங்கே போனாலும் பெண்களைப் பார்த்து விழிக்கிறான்.

தருமன் சிரித்து விட்டுச் சும்மா இருக்கிறான்.

இரு. அதை விட ஒரு சோதனை. நான் எந்த ஊர்க்காரன் என்று சொல் பார்க்கலாம்?

தருமன் கண்ணை மூடி ஒரு வினாடி யோசிக்கிறான். பிறகு,
தென்காசி, அல்லது அதற்கு அருகில்.

வழுதியும் பெருமாளும் அவனை ஆச்சரியத்துடன் பார்க்கிறார்கள்.

அவர் சொல்வது சரியா?

சரி தான். குற்றாலத்தில் குரங்குகளுடன் திரிந்து கொண்டிருந்தான்.

சோதிடா, நீ சரியான ஆள் தான். நெல்வேலிக்கு வா. அரசர் சபையில் இடம் இருக்கிறது.

இருவரும் குதிரையை நகர்த்திச் செல்கிறார்கள்.


Vishak Seshadri said...

Hi Chitappa,

Interesting read. While reading this, I remembered something and just wanted to share it with you. Dr. Kamal Hassan was conferred an honorary doctorate by Sathyabama University in 2005. I was there and heard his speech. During this time, he mentioned that the Tamil Film Industry does not have dedicated screenplay writers. He was talking about how necessary a course in screenplay writing would really help.

Meenakshi said...

Good script chithappa... May b can try approaching a small but good star who will eventually lead you to a producer & director

Anonymous said...

What about other mediums in other countries? Could your script be used as the basis of a cartoon or comic book?

Why not try and open source the projet: put the story forward, try to recruit directors/actors/cartoonists, whatever you need.

Ramiah Ariya said...

Vishak, Thanks.
Yes, I actually went to screenwriting seminars and lectures in Philadelphia. That is how I learnt their process.
Kamal Hassan has conducted screenwriting courses, of course. But the point is that it is used more by assistant directors.If I sat down, wrote a script and then just wanted a director to make it into a movie, it does not seem possible in our industry.
Meenakshi, Thanks. I do have a couple of more options I am considering.
I could consider other mediums, but I targeted the script for a Tamil audience. I have other ideas for comic books.
The open sourcing just may not work in this case. The thing is, there is no fundamental "lookout" for a good story. If everyone was looking for good scripts, and they were scarce, then I can take that approach. But the reality is that there are many, many stories and story writers - much more than the market demand. That is the problem.

Ilango said...

I read your post with interest. I reached out to you on twitter. Please respond when you get a chance.

oasisram said...

நம் சொல் எடுபடவேண்டும் என்றால்
நாம் உயர்ந்து இருக்க வேண்டும்
நம் எழுத்து ஏற்க பட வேண்டுமென்றால்
நாம் அறியப்பட்டவராக இருக்க வேண்டும்

முதலில் நம்மை சமூக அந்தஸ்தில்
அதன்பின் நாம் எழுதும் எல்லாம்
சபை ஏறும்
s ramakrishnan