Namaste London, Kahaani to Pink - Kirti in Conversation with Bollywood Scriptwriter Ritesh Shah!


(Video - Kirti in Conversation with Bollywood Scriptwriter - Ritesh Shah)

Ritesh Shah's scripted film Pink starring Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari and Andrea Tariang, directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury has been making all the right noise for raising some pertinent issues related to freedom and safety of women, and most importantly the male gaze that it challenges.

Pink has been hailed as the film of the year, with a subtle yet stellar performance by Mr Bachchan, but many are calling the script and the scriptwriter Ritesh Shah as the real hero of the film.

Shah from his school and college days was actively writing scripts for plays and short films... and had clearly set up his mind to be a professional playwright. Post the completion of MA in Mass Communication in 1998 from MCRC Jamia Millia, New Delhi, Shah actively worked as a playwright in an amateur theatre group in Delhi. Then a meeting with a filmmaker who wanted to make a film on one of his plays led him to move to Mumbai, but somehow the film never happened.

He also feels that his style of writing was not encouraged at that point of time in the Hindi film industry. He recalls that at that the Hindi film industry did not even have the practice of having bound scripts, so his style of writing and professional approach did not fit in. Therefore, he found television scriptwriting something satisfying and where he could practice and hone his skills in screenwriting as it was closer to the style of writing films.

Starting with films such as Home Delivery in 2005, Namstey London (2007) and Action Replayy (2010), he found some success with Force (2011), Kahaani (2012), D-Day (2013) and City Lights (2014).

(Ritesh Shah with the cast and crew of Pink)

2016 has been a defining year for Shah, with some big films such as Airlift, Rocky Handsome, Te3n, Madaari and Pink. While Shah's Airlift has become one of the top films of 2016 (raking in Indian Rs 1290 Million), it is Pink that has brought critical acclaim, as well as, audience appreciation for him as a scriptwriter. Shah contends, "If deep down you don’t respect or do not acknowledge a woman’s right over her body, you can’t make a film like Pink. Such films can’t be faked. They have to come from conviction." On the success of Pink, Shah states:

"I think the film has worked not because of a fictional construct, it's just that we have echoed exactly what our audience feels, primarily the female audience, but also, the men who felt stifled; they felt they were in a minority as they used to think like this.

So the strongest response has come from men who say that, I used to always tell this to my friends, but somehow [with this film] we have been given a voice.

I suppose, it is the expression of a common sentiment that has worked. I don't think its the craft which has worked, I don't think it is the technique which has worked...

It's just that something we should have talked about earlier, but we are talking about it now, post Pink."

(Ritesh Shah in a cameo in Pink)

Shah is upbeat about the way Bollywood films are shaping up, he feels that the audience are now looking for strong scripts, even films of Salman Khan is now not riding solely on star value, but is also relying on a good story, films such as Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) and Sultan (2016) are good example. Shah feels 2016 has given some strong films in terms of script, be it Madaari, Te3n, Dhoni, Neerja, and Kapoor & Sons. Shah feels that there is a need for the film producers to understand film scripts properly, only then they will be able to appreciate original content. Shah wants to see the film industry to encourage and provide opportunities to the new scriptwriters, so that there are quality film scripts and stories to choose from.

Shah’s upcoming projects include Kahaani 2, Commando 2, Love Sonia and a remake of the Hollywood film Chef.

Check out Kirti Sehrawat's exclusive interview with Ritesh Shah here on Bollyoz.com


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