Archive for April, 2009

What does this show ap[art from a bad manicure?

What does this show apart from a bad manicure?

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Many of you have written to me asking me why I’ve stopped dishing out advice about writing. There are many reasons for that. One, it’s not that I’ve done any teaching course. So obviously, the only advice I can give you is what was given to me when I first started writing. Or what I’ve gleaned on the Internet. And since I haven’t exactly followed that advice to the letter, I am hardly in a position to exhort anyone else to do the same, now can I?

Secondly, rules about writing are just that. Rules. There are no right or wrong rules and even the right ones are meant to be broken. If they weren’t, books like Catcher In The Rye and Three Men In A Boat would never have been published. Moreover, the only one that had worked for me is persistence. I may not need to write every day, as I’ve discovered to my horror recently, but once I start a project, I’m like a dog with a bone (there goes another writing rule about desisting from using clichéd similes/metaphors/phrases).

Thirdly, never take advice from writing teachers. Given a choice they’d rather be writing their magnum opus, their seminal, definitive novel on the esprit de temps rather than correcting someone else work. They are teachers ’cos they are unsuccessful writers. Come to think of it, most writers would rather be doing something else too. Just goes to show the drain on the soul the writing business is.

Meanwhile, now that I’ve wrapped up my second (nope, name still not decided) baby and am not waxing on the subject of writing, I’m kinda figuring out what to write next. The Kkrishnaa sequel is always there and the sequel to the second too, but then my publisher threw me a curve ball by suggesting I write an Indian historical romance. Now I’m not too good with virginal heroines but the prospect of a Prithviraj Chauhan whisking me away on a white steed…now that’s intriguing.



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I’m thoroughly enjoying my downtime. The only thing that’s playing spoilsport at the moment is the weather. The heat and the humidity means I get to town a lot less often that I’d wish to. I’d promised myself that once I finished I’d make a trip to Café Mondegar, Café Leopold and an old favourite, Churchgate Stores (non-air conditioned but the last time I went around, beer-on-the-tap was priced at a ridiculously low price of 35 bucks a glass) and drink myself silly every day. Strand book store and Bombay Stores also found a mention in the to-do list, although I’m not sure whether it was pre or post the drinking. Definitely pre, I’m thinking. But so far I’ve done this only once in three weeks.

But I’ve also realized one thing. Everything people say about writers/writing is not necessarily true. For instance, I’ve discovered that I don’t have to write every single day. I’m quite happy picking up the comp just to surf silly videos all day long. I don’t feel guilty if I don’t so much as open the word processor even once during the day. So what’s the distinction between a writer and a prevaricator? I guess the difference is knowing the difference between a holiday and procrastination.

Of course, I could get to my comp immediately. I already have a story ready for telling. But I try and desist from sticking to a formula. I like to imbue my novels with quirky characters and atmosphere. This means I need my jar of creative juice fully replenished. Meanwhile, I’m content to let the ideas ferment.

On the subject of authors of prodigious output, here’s an interesting article.

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I’m restive these days. Unable to concentrate to outlining my third book. And that’s because my second book hasn’t been laid to bed as yet. The thing is it is very difficult to focus on two different books at the same time, especially when they are both intricate murder mysteries.

The second book in its current form is about 1, 14, 000 words which, I’m sure, is giving the production staff palpitations. I’m sure they’ll try and get me to trim the word count to under 1, 00, 000 post editing. That means that I can’t let it go just yet.

I apologize for harping incessantly on the phrase ‘the second book,’ although it does have a nice ring to it. Makes it sound like a definitive religious text, n’est pas? The name is not a closely guarded secret, deliberately shrouded in mystery. We just haven’t been able to agree on a suitably snappy title as yet.

The story is about a female PI with a cringe-worthy name like Kalavati or Bisheshwari or Thirumala. And it’s a series. At least we’re hoping it will be a franchise. I was going with a generalised title for the series, suffixed by specific story title.  Like And then there were noneAn Hercule Poirot mystery.

I was keen on Krime Kronicles as the general series title but it prompted too many eye rolls from my publishers (in my defense, I’m a TV person!). And so, the search continues.

Meanwhile, for all you aspiring screenwriters out there, Kamal Hassan, along with some Hollywood biggies, is launching a screenwriting contest. A friend of mine who works at the Hindu in Chennai sent me this. Check it out.

Chennai International Screenwriting WorkshopDo you want to be one of the chosen 250 to attend a week-long masterclass by some of the best screenwriting teachers in the country?


Kamal Haasan, in association with Indian Institute of Technology, Madras presents a first-of-its-kind international workshop and seminar on screenwriting in South India. “It’s a strictly instructional event. Basic education is compulsory and candidates need to demonstrate their seriousness to get selected,” says the writer-filmmaker-actor.

The Chennai International Screenwriting Workshop to be held at the IIT-M campus between May 29 to June 3, 2009 will feature few of the best screenwriters and filmmakers from around the world.

Veteran writer Jean Claude Carriere has confirmed his participation via video conference. 

Mr. Kamal Haasan himself will join the discussions and don the role of faculty during the workshop and seminar. “Students will be able to pick up copies of my scripts and get their doubts clarified,” he adds. 

The screenwriting workshop will be conducted by K.Hariharan, Director of the L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy, Anjum Rajabali, Professional screenwriter and head of departments of screenwriting at Film and TV Institute, Pune and Whistling Woods, Mumbai and Atul Tiwari, Professional screenwriter and well known playwright.

“We will be approaching screenwriting from two angles”, says Mr.Hariharan. “How to turn words into images that you see on screen and also how to do the opposite – putting in words what you see as images in your mind. Every day, we will have two sessions of guest lectures by reputed writer-filmmakers from the industry.”

For long, screenwriting has been a neglected discipline even in film schools. “While all good writing is essentially intuitive, it is essential to understand the basic principles of storytelling and the form of the screenplay to be a competent screenwriter”, says Mr. Anjum Rajabali, who founded the screenwriting department at FTII and at Whistling Woods.

“We all agree that it is impossible to make even a half decent film with a bad script and that a good script is the first and foremost requisite to make a good film. But even then we have seen that pedagogy of the screenwriting has not taken roots in India,” adds Mr. Atul Tiwari, who has who has conducted similar workshops in New Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Manipal and Pune.

The workshop will culminate with a seminar, which will be open to industry professionals. The event is an initiative of Raajkamal Films International to bring screenwriting to the forefront. 

To apply, students must send a copy of their resume, a passport-size photograph along with a 200-word synopsis on their favourite film and a list of their five favourite films to admissions@screenwritingindia.com before May 5, 2009.

More details are available on http://screenwritingindia.com. For further queries, email helpdesk@screenwritingindia.com

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Okay, I’ve been horribly lax as far as updating the blog is concerned. I’d figured that once I’d put the second book to rest, I’d have more time for the blog. But time is one thing and creative thought, quite another. I guess my book took more out of me than I suspected. Plus, the oppressive heat (37 degrees C + 90 % relative humidity. Don’t we just luuurrrrvvvv Bombay in April-May and September-October) is taking its toll. I’m creatively and physically dehydrated.

In fact, I haven’t even begun work on the Kkrishnaa sequel. I’d vowed to myself that I would not make the mistake I made the last time around and start on the next book straight away.

It’s not just the writing process that’s suffering. My social life, too, has gone for a toss. Earlier I avoided meeting friends as I had a deadline to meet. And now that I have some free time, it’s just too muggy to step out at any time of the day or evening. I could take my car but looking for parking always stresses me out and, in spite of the pleasant 22 degree inside, my clothes get soaking wet. It’s so humid that yesterday I had a fainting spell at the running track. And that was before I started running!

It’s so humid that when I step out of the shower I don’t know if it’s water I’m toweling off or perspiration.

Enough Jay Lenoish whines about the weather. One week. That’s the latitude I’ve allowed myself. Then it’s back to the drawing board for the Kkrishnaa sequel or else I’ll never be able to finish by August end which is the deadline I’ve set for it. The good thing is I already have the plot in mind. It’s really funny and thrilling and once I get down to it, I’m sure the excitement will carry me along quite nicely.

Meanwhile, I’ve been vegetating in front of the TV. And since tennis is over for the moment (Monte Carlo Rolex Masters. Vamos Rafa!), I’m glued to the election specials. I’m proud to say that I am a veritable encyclopedia of useless facts and candidate trivia. In fact, it’s a pity I know sooo much and still have just the one vote. Or maybe that one vote is one too many.

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I’ve written the MS and sent it. It’s been read and appreciated and I have been sent contracts.

Now the tough part begins. Which is poring over clause after clause of legalese. It’s so annoying, the way these lawyers go on and on with the hereforthwiths, and hereafters and with/without prejudice…why can’t they just state stuff in plain languge that people can understand? After going through the contracts all of the past three days, I’m tempted to sing “hua poora ka poora mindf@#* yaar” from, you guessed it, the x-rated emosanal atyachar.

The bad news is that with a lot of reverts back and forth it doesn’t look to get over soon . Just to show how my life isn’t my own anymore, I started writing this yesterday when my lawyer called to do a ‘page turn.’  After an hour and a half of absolutely scintillating stuff  (I mean that sarcastically, of course) , I was so exhausted that I needed another hour and a half of some serious retail therapy. The mall was absolutely packed which didn’t improve my mood any but did make me wonder, “Recession? What recession?”

Coming back to the subject, the good news is we’ve arrived at a list of must haves in the contract. The hard part is getting the publishers to agree. It isn’t for nothing people say publishing is about a bunch of lawyers being supported by editors.

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