Tuesday 26 February 2013

Cutting Chai with Bhawana Somaaya - Day 54

Untold Stories
23.2.2013, Mumbai

The recent heinous gang-rape in Delhi has set off a national debate, one question of
which is: How does popular culture portray women? What is the gender equation in
cinema and TV? What impact does this have on the audience? The screenwriting
community meets every two years at a national conference to debate issues important
to society. The stalwarts collectively reflect and enlighten an engaging audience.

Two years ago the workshop was held in Pune. Last year at the Whistling Woods, Mumbai and this year they have moved to a more convenient address and a bigger auditorium St Andrews, Mumbai. Next week on February 25, 26 , 27 all roads will lead to Bandra where around 800 screenwriters and writer-directors from across the country are expected to participate in the conference and this includes Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Ashutosh Gowariker, Govind Nihalani, Anurag Basu, Rakeysh Mehra joined by the young turks of Indian screenwriting like Juhi Chaturvedi (Vicky Donor), Abbas
Tyrewala (Jaane Tu..), Habib Faisal (Ishaqzaade) and others.

The established and new luminaries will discuss and debate the burning questions
dogging the community, including the social responsibilities of screenwriters. Also
present on the occasion will be renowned writers from Hollywood, Tom Schulman
Oscar winner for Dead Poets Society. New forms of writing in both TV and cinema
are challenging established imperatives of storytelling. The conference will discuss

The Film Writers Association fights for the rights of the writer. The Copyright Act
has been amended, and the Minimum Basic Contract between writers and producers is
almost finalized. Writers are the architects of narratives that films and TV shows are
based on. The conference seeks to strengthen their position in the filmmaking process.

Says Anjum Rajabali, the convener for the conference that while it is wonderful
that the mainstream cinema is taking large leaps at the box office and television
viewership has setting new benchmarks, it is unfortunate that we have disconnected
from social realities. Themes which were the backbone of our narratives like the
struggle of the common man, rural exploitation; social injustice, caste oppression,
economic polarization and distress don’t seem to inspire our filmmakers any longer.

I have attended all the FWA workshops and found them enlightening. I will be parked
at St Andrews for all three days, will you?

Bhawana Somaaya/ www.bhawanasomaaya.com

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