Ace Bollywood scriptwriter Ritesh Shah, who has created a buzz by penning powerful on-screen women characters for films like “Pink” and “Kahaani”, says the industry is reshaping itself by breaking the cliche of song-and-dance routines and trying to deliver something “new and interesting” to its audience.
An upbeat Shah says the audience can now expect at least 15 good, content-driven films every year.
In an interview to IANS on the sidelines of the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet, Shah said: “Bollywood is changing. If you look at the biggest stars of the industry today, they are also opting to do films with a semblance of a story and a strong female character.”
“It shows how stars like them are also being pushed by the industry to do content-backed films.”
“Out of the 15 or 16 films that have really worked at the box office last year, almost 14-and-a-half are content-driven where the story, character, treatment and dialogue are given priority. From now on the audience can expect at least 15 good films every year.”
While stating he would always like to be a part of films that are impactful as well as commercially viable, the avid Salim-Javed fan said there is nothing wrong in vying for commercial success.
“I believe a film that has great reviews but is not seen by more than 50,000 people, is not a good thing. A filmmaker cannot be so indulgent or self-satisfied to make films only for a select group of people.”
While talking about his initial struggle as a screenplay and script writer, Shah said he took a conscious decision to work in films that would mean something to him and to those who come to see it.
“I got better offers in the second half of my career after ‘Force’ and ‘Kahaani’ happened and it was a conscious decision to work in films that would be impactful but not limited to a specific set of people.”
The winner of the Stardust Award for Best Screenplay in 2016 also didn’t rule out the chance of venturing into direction or acting.
“At present, I like the fact that I am a mainstream writer and I make my living out of writing. But never say never to anything in our industry.
“Tomorrow, if someone is not able to understand a particular character or if there is a small part that is highly important but nobody is willing to do it, I might as well take the plunge and say let me do it,” Shah said with a smile.
Talking about his future projects like the action-packed “Commando 2” or the Arjun Rampal-starer “Daddy”, Shah said he would love to stick to scripts that reach out to a larger section of society while making sense.
“Me, Raja Krishna Menon and Suresh Nair, the same writing team of ‘Airlift’ movie, are working on the remake of Jon Favreau’s 2014 Drama film ‘Chef’. That was a tough job and it has given us a lot of creative satisfaction and hope,” he said.
Shah said he looks up to the Academy award-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and filmmaker-cum-writer Billy Wilder as his inspirations. The Salim-Javed scripts from the 1970s also continue to fascinate him.
Talking about the 2016 hit “Pink” that brought him awards and accolades, Shah said a film like that is not made very often.
“In the 11 years of my film career, I never had to discuss a film with so many people like I did in the case of ‘Pink’. That tells me ‘Pink’ has impacted the lives of a lot of people.”
(Milinda Ghosh Roy can be contacted at email@example.com)
By Milinda Ghosh Roy