3 years

television

Confessions of a TV Serial Scriptwriter

Page 1 of 1
“There’s a constant disconnect between writers. No writer knows what the other is working on, even if they are working on the same episode. It has become a clerical job now”

Television is full of people who only know how to follow the rule book. The more regressive the theme, the more advertisers you get. Women who stand up in serials are not as popular as women who suffer. And writers today actually believe that women should be like this. Every time you create something new, there’s pressure to create it within the same world view. The more a character cries, the higher the TRPs.

Directors are hardworking spot boys. They’re not creative talent. They don’t have the option of saying no to anything. They don’t have the security blanket.

I worked with Ekta Kapoor. She doesn’t have the patience to work with older people. You have to be 40 or below. Better yet, 30 or below. And if you’re 20…she works best with 20-year-olds. You have to have the energy. And you have to be a phone call away at 3 am.

She has fun messing with people. She’ll be abusive. She does it with people who depend on the job for their bread and butter. I didn’t need to be there, so she didn’t do this to me.

Writers would exercise a subtle form of self-censorship. You might have good ideas, but you won’t put them in the television script. Anyway, if you did, Ekta would read it and point out that no one would get it. She instinctively knew the nerve of the nation.

Ekta hired one person to sit in the office library, read books all day, and relay stories to her at night. The person would read Hindi literature and books from a hundred years ago. We were living in a Victorian era. I wondered why.

Writing day in and day out pressurised us. You could produce emotion and drama for a while, but soon, you would begin to plagiarise. There was some brainstorming in the beginning, about ten years ago. But it doesn’t work that way anymore. There’s a constant disconnect between writers. No writer knows what the other is working on, even if they are working on the same episode. It has become a clerical job now.
Star knew dealing with Ekta was like gambling. They never knew when she would flip. She has simple emotions. She laughs and gets angry easily. She’s a child in that sense.

(This scriptwriter used to write for Balaji Telefilms)

As told to Rahul Bhatia