Meet Atika Chohan, the co-writer of Deepika Padukone-starrer Chhapaak
There are success stories and there are stories of failure. Screenwriter Atika Chohan thinks hers falls under the latter. “My story is of failure. For every film that made it to the screen, so many other projects got shelved. I have had heartbreaks and in the last 10 years I could only do so much,” shares the screenwriter.
However, for fans of Bollywood films, Atika is the writer who gave them the unforgettable Margarita With A Straw, starring Kalki Koechlin. Now, the audience is waiting for the screenwriter’s next big project, Chhapaak, which has Deepika Padukone in the lead role.
Atika has co-written Chhapaak with filmmaker Meghna Gulzar, and it has put the former in the limelight. In fact, for Atika, this film is validation. A pinned tweet (a retweet of Deepika’s tweet about the film) on her Twitter timeline reads, “Bahut pyaar aur mehnath se likhi — Malathi. Can’t even say this is a dream come true because never even allowed myself to dream that @deepikapadukone would play the part one day! #gratitudepost (sic).”
For a screenwriter who thinks she has done little in a decade, this association with Meghna is certainly a giant step ahead. Atika agrees, “This is by far the biggest project I’ve worked on. Otherwise, everything I have done has been in the more intellectual and arty space. I had proved myself with my previous writing, and director Honey Trehan who had seen my work put me in touch with Meghna.” Working with the filmmaker, Atika says is an enriching experience because both women are passionate about the story and the subject. “This is Meghna’s project. She nurtured the idea and did the research,” reveals the writer.
The two of them took a year-and-a-half to complete the script and during that process, there was a lot of exchange of ideas. “Meghna is a master of structure and detailing. She would structure my ideas on themes and the narrative,” offers Atika.
Atika was a journalist before she jumped into the world of film writing. She chose to write stories about subjects she really cared for and Chhapaak is one such story. “I have always been a feminist and have felt strongly about certain sociopolitical issues. I quit journalism to become a writer so that I could lend my voice to such topics,” she reveals.
This is one of the reasons she has worked on select projects. Her first TV series, Rishta.com, a Yash Raj show of 26 episodes was shot for Star Plus in 2010. “The show is now on Netflix, and I really cherish working on it. I always wanted to be a feature film writer, but I had to do TV to pay bills. It wasn’t an easy choice to make but I kept making this constant choice till Margarita With A Straw got noted,”she concludes.
BOOK THAT’S INFLUENCED HER THE MOST: The English Patient
FAVOURITE INDIAN AUTHORS: Shubhangi Swarup and Jeet Thayil
BAND SHE LISTENS TO OFTEN: Radiohead
WHAT SHE DOES WHEN SHE’S FREE: Shop or play with Kiki and Hoshiyar (her cats)