'Guilt-free commercial dialogue writing of Salim-Javed a rarity now'
Realism has taken the cinema out of dialogues, and the guilt-free commercial dialogue writing of the kind popularised by Salim-Javed, the celebrated scriptwriters of the 1970s and 1980s, is rare now, believes Siddharth Singh, who has written with Garima Wahal for hit films like Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani.
There is a segment of society that points out that the dialogues of contemporary films are worse than the ones of the previous eras. What do the contemporary writers have to say about such comparisons?
"Comparisons are bound to happen in a creative medium. Everything that you create, before it even hits the stands will first face a comparison or criticism. While we feel that cinema grows or changes alongside what's happening in our lives, the way people talk (for good or for the bad) has changed over the years. That reflects in our dialogues," Singh told IANS in an interview.
"We also feel that the 'realism' has taken the cinema' out of our dialogues! The guilt-free commercial dialogue writing of Salim-Javed is a rarity now. And here the filmmakers and creators, not writers, are to blame.
"We often find ourselves being given briefs like - 'It should not sound like a line', 'make it real', etc. But a few makers do understand the value of a great dialogue and its potential to turn around or enhance the screenplay," he added.
The two are involved in the story, screenplay and dialogues of the forthcoming film Raabta, starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon. The love story is set in two time periods. How easy or difficult was it to change the dialogues?
"Once we get down to writing something, it flows. The current time for example had a clear tone marked for its characters from the word go. We knew what exactly one would say or do and how the other one would react.
"With the other life, it was as much a challenge as it was fun to devise a tone for the same characters. We have created a special tone for this time which is a hybrid of a few forgotten Hindi dialects. We're excited about that coming to the fore as things unfold," said Wahal.
Raabta will mark the directorial debut of producer Dinesh Vijan. But it's not just debutants that they have worked with. They consider filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali as their mentor.
"Being our first director, he has contributed a lot to shaping our minds in a certain way and we are thankful for that. Two years on ...Ram-Leela was as good as film school. He ingrained a process into us which we follow with all our films. We start writing only after detailed research of the story, where we are basing it.
"After our scripts are done we are on our shoots, 24x7, watching every bit of how it's being shot and helping the director get it right. Also, he encourages artistes to create fearlessly in their own style ... We are both quiet bold and blatant in our approach to a subject," said Singh.
They are writing something for him, which is very different from whatever he has done till date, they promised.
Among their other projects, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, a satirical comedy, will hit the screens in June. It is said that the film is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Toilet: Ek Prem Katha was conceptualised much before Modi ji became the PM. We took this idea to (filmmaker) Neeraj Pandey in 2012 and he instantly liked the one line and commissioned us to write it. Since then we have done extensive, three-year-long research and crafted every bit of the film in a way that it entertains and somewhere down the line makes a difference to people's lives.
"It's a sensitive topic. And it's surprising how it never became an issue till now. It's a subject that needs to be discussed. Be it through literature, films, or any other medium, writers have taken a stand against a lot of cultural and social evils. This is our own little effort," said Wahal.
Any fear that the film will lock horns with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)?
"CBFC is a very feared subject by us creators in today's times. As writers, we joke about a censor ghost constantly standing behind our backs and glaring into our computer screens. But Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is the kind of a film which will not lock horns with anyone but the Indian mindset," said Singh.