Life in Mumbai for script writers is hard: when a project of theirs goes well, credit is given to the director and the stars, with a brief mention of a “good story”. Yet, when it goes bad, they face the ire of critics. Barely ever do they get any recognition by the press.
Beena Gera is one such writer, who has been a part of the Television Industry after moving from Delhi nearly fifteen years ago, and now is looking to switch over to the Film Industry. She gives The Viewspaper the writers’ take of the industry.
VP: You have been part of the Television Industry for nearly fifteen years now, from even before the boom took place. How difficult did you find it back then to get a break, since you had no “Godfather” in the industry?
BG: It was a case of being at the right place at the right time. New channels were just starting to come in. Zee had already been established, while Sony was coming up who needed shows. I had a script which a renowned director liked, and was easily sold to Sony.
VP: How much has the industry really grown over the past decade and a half, on
the technical aspect?
BG: Technically, the industry has grown very, very well, but the problem is that everyone sticks to a formula that has done well in the past.
VP: Our soap operas are regularly panned by the critics for being monotonous, using the same formula again and again and again, yet there seem to be no changes. Is this a fault of the writers, or the directors, or the producers, or the TV channels?
BG: It is not the fault of any of them, but that of the vicious circle of TRP (Television Rating Points). If one show has done well and achieved good TRP, watched by the people, the story is stretched so that the show goes on.
VP: But who is responsible for the vicious circle, because the viewers keep demanding for something new?
BG: Not all viewers demand for something new. The problem is that the shows are like drugs. If the viewer watches it regularly, he or she gets hooked onto it, and would then watch it even if they criticize it. And if the viewer watches it, the TRPs remain, and the channels continue to broadcast it for monetary reasons.
VP: In the past few years we have seen a few “Out of the Box” movies do well, like Bheja Fry, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Jhankar Beats. Why is this experimentation not there on the TV shows?
BG: It’s not happening yet, but I’m sure that it would start within the next two to three years, We have to remember that even the Film Industry was monotonous till quite recently, but with the success of these movies a new genre has come up. The television industry cannot not experiment for much longer.
VP: Is it basically because of creative restraints that you want to switch to movies, or is it just an ambition?
BG: It’s completely because of creative restraints.
VP. How difficult is it now for a young aspiring writer to make it big in the Film Industry?
BG: It’s not too difficult, because a lot of channels are coming up and manpower is definitely needed. Writing is the foremost part of any movie or TV show, but as long as you are talented, it’s not too difficult.
VP: What are the main differences that you have found between writing for a TV show and writing for a movie?
BG: The canvas is different, basically, and the stories have to be written a little differently because of the time constraint. Personally, it felt like switching from second gear to third gear.
VP. Which show of yours did you enjoy writing for the most?
BG: It would be my first show, “O Maria”, because the whole story was conceived by me and I had a little more creative freedom. In the rest, the stories were conceived by someone else.