Posted by: S/J | 07/08/2009

Baaton Baaton Mein – Anuraadha Tewari

Hi everyone. We got another interview! This time it was none other than writer Anuraadha Tewari, who worked on Rahul, Supari, Yaadein, Fashion and now Jail…can you believe it?! She worked on some of the best movies ever! This was our first ever phone interview, so we were nervous…but talking to Anuraadha totally put as at ease. She’s so chill and laid back and a lot of the time when she was talking about her personality, it was like she was talking about us…which is really cool to find, especially when the other person is so brilliant and fun! We had so much fun doing the interview that we wanted all of you to share the experience, so that’s how we wrote it, as the conversation went on…it’s nothing like listening to it, but it’s close.

Yes, the interview is long, but it’s worth it. We feel there’s no point in doing an interview and not get to know at least some major aspects of that person, so we hope reading this not only are you bit more enlightened about Anuraadha and how she works and the things she likes, but also that you get to know a bit more about Filmistan and the people who are in it… and also learn a little about life in general.100_2982

Sona: Hi Anuradha, this is Sona.
Anuraadha: Hey Sona, Hi!!!
Sona: How are you?
Anuraadha: I’m good, how are you?
Sona: So, you’re not sleeping yet huh?
Anuraadha: No, not at all…I never sleep this early! What’s the time there?
Sona: It’s 11:15 a.m.
Anuraadha: Oh okay alright, so tell me what’s up?
Sona: Ok, this is Jasmine (Sona pointed to Jasmine while saying this even though we were doing the interview over the phone, it was quite hilarious!)
Anuraadha: Hi, how are you?
Jasmine: I’m good.
Sona: Ok, so should we start now?
Anuraadha: Yeah, totally you’re on ISD dude!

Us: Tell us a little about yourself personally and creatively.
Anuraadha: I have no clue where to start. Ok so… I did my Masters in Mass Communication.
Jasmine: Oh just like us, we got our Bachelors in Mass Communication.
Anuraadha: Oh really, oh okay so I went to MCRC, Jamia Milia Islamia and Lady Shri Ram College, both in New Delhi. I majored in Film Direction as well. After that I came to Mumbai and assisted Mahesh Bhatt. Later, I started working with Anupam Kher’s TV company as an independent Writer-Director. I was also heading channel V for a while after that and then a Dot Com Company and then as the National Creative Director of Crest Communications among other things until 2002 . . . some serious corporate jobs till I decided to chuck it all and follow my creative pursuits again . . . that’s when I went completely independent and started freelancing. And I’ve been writing ever since.

Do you enjoy freelance work much better?
Anuraadha: Oh totally. Completely, there’s no comparison.

yaadeinWhat first got you interested in writing for films? Is that what you always wanted to do?
Anuraadha: No. Actually no. I was always interested in writing and I’ve been writing since 1st grade. I was always interested in poetry and films.
Sona: Yeah, I read your poetry online it’s really good.
Anuraadha: Thanks. I’ve been writing, but I was set to do many other things including an MBA. Instead, I decided to join Mass Communication out of sheer peer pressure and because it sounded it really cool. All my friends were joining Mass Comm. And then when I was working Mr. Mahesh Bhatt, he made me realize that I could also write movies, even for others, he believed there was a good storyteller in me and that I should never lose it. . . and so I was like, yeah. . . that’s cool! So, it was really like that.

Who or what do you cite as major inspirations for your work?
Anuraadha: Well, it’s got to be movies. It is really. . . I think I’m passionately in love with cinema. I think since I was born. If you really want to know than as a kid I was really filmi. Even before I started education. My mum didn’t know how to get me to study, so she got these Filmfares (magazine) and she started teaching me ‘A’ for ‘Amitabh Uncle, B for Bobby, C for Chintu Uncle, D for Daboo Uncle…
Sona and Jasmine: Awww that’s cute! (Laughing out loud)
Anuraadha: I just learnt it like in a day! So that’s how I much I love cinema (laughing out loud). So I just watched movies and loved them a little more. And of course there’s literature and both are competing in my head. And lastly life and people . . . and their stories. I think I just love stories.

Sona: The Filmfare part was so funny!
Anuraadha: Yeahhhh but it’s true.

What are the major challenges that you faced when you first started. . . surely it wasn’t easy to get a position with Mahesh Bhatt?
Anuraadha: No actually no. It was really the reverse for me; it was so damn easy when I arrived. I had a job on day one.
Sona and Jasmine: That’s so cool!
Anuraadha: I was in Bombay in the morning and in the evening I had job. I just got really lucky and things really seemed to work for me in the beginning. . . and than I got stuck in the middle. I actually had my challenges a lot later in life.

So what were the challenges?fashion2
Umm…so many! (Laughs) What happens is when you’re a little too young in the head then you don’t quite get the value of things and how things work. You can sort of screw it up a bit for yourself by just not understanding yourself or the system you’re getting into and that definitely happened to me. Also, I didn’t know what my niche was at all and where I fit it in, what kind of stories I wanted tell, I didn’t know nothing. I was just one cocky thing who was doing her own number. So my challenges were with myself a little bit later. You wake up one day and say, “Dude, I don’t think I know enough.” I went back to the drawing board and sort of re-taught myself cinema and writing in particular. And more than that I realized, while I knew how to make films I didn’t know how reach out to people at all…like to an audience.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?
Oh, I love everything!
A. I get to tell stories. Which is fun job anyway.
B. I can always watch a movie because it’s part of my job.
C. I can wake at 1 in the afternoon and work through the day in my night clothes. I can take a day off because I feel like it (laughs)…I can take a month off because I feel like it.

What process do you go through when you’re starting a new script?
There’s no real sort of…either rocket science to it or a serious sort of regiment. Par, I do have a pattern that I noted myself. Basically, I always start with characters. I like to build the characters in my head first…sometimes I keep notes, sometimes I write sort of a freestyle essay. I just write whatever comes to my mind about the characters. And than I sit down and I visualize the characters in my head. I need them to feel like real people, so I do that first and than get into the plot, the story, the structure and everything else.
Jasmine: That’s interesting. You would think that it would be the other way, that you would develop the story first.
Anuraadha: No. . . that never feels real.
Sona: You know what I noticed, a lot of writers say that. I’ve read many times, where the writer develops the characters first.
Anuraadha: That’s the way to feel a film first. You see what happens is that when you learn structure, a lot of people tend to get very ‘structure struck’ and get a lot of structure and no soul.

Tell us one favorite thing you loved about each one of your previous movies (“Jail,” “Fashion,” Supari,” ” Yaadein,” “Rahul”).
Rahul: Well Rahul was great because that really was my first script.
Sona: Oh, it wasn’t Yaadein?
Anuraadha: Oh no. Yaadein actually started earlier, but yeah. First thing, because I was working with Mr. Prakash Jha, a very skillful filmmaker. I wrote seven drafts all by myself and I thought they came out really well and the best thing about it was to have envisioned a story entirely from a child’s perspective and relive the innocence. . . of course finally the film that got made wasn’t anywhere to close to it, but it was my first film ever and I really cherish the process. . .

Yaadein: Well I’ve written about it pretty extensively (laughs) (check it out on Facebook). I love Yaadein, it was such a trip. It’s really a cult film and working on it was a cult by itself. Everything and just Mr. Ghai and his accent.
Sona and Jasmine: So he actually does talk like that? supari
Anuraadha: He does! He talks like that and he says this is my Rohtak English you know. (Rohtak is a town in Haryana and this is where Mr. Ghai got his degree in Commerce). And of course working with Hrithik and Kareena that was really and it was a big budget film, so the feel of something grand was of course really cool. After I got over the shock of what it was going to be like, I just leaned back and enjoyed the ride. It was great all the way to the end. I love everything about Yaadein including Jackie Shroff’s wigs.
Sona and Jasmine: He was wearing wigs? They did a really good job with it.
Anuraadha: Yeah. And playing “Antakshri” with Hrithik and Kareena who were dedicating songs to each other (:D) We were just singing and having fun! That was great, Yaadein I can go on and on.

Supari: Well Supari was interesting too. I don’t remember if that was really the first thing that I started writing because it got made in two and half years. And we wrote a large part; actually we wrote all of it at Holiday Inn’s coffee shop every night from 12 to 7 in the morning. We had such passionate discussions and we would have Sunny Deol drop in once in a while and we would get even more excited about the story. Actually if you really want to know, after we had worked on it for two-three months. One fine day we had this set of people next to our table who leaned across…clearly a CSW (commercial sex worker, a.k.a prostitute) and her pimp. This pimp leans across and says you know we have a great story to tell you. Can we? We have a great script. It was really cool…as we sat with straight faces while the lady told us what was clearly her own story . . . It was WOW! None of us knew how to react later and in true Filmi style we said we’d get back to them . . . get back???? Working on the film was fun, but it took two and a half years, which is a different story, I didn’t even see the final cut.

Fashion: Fashion was something I really liked because I think firstly it was a film I was doing after evolving as a writer myself. I was writing the film after many years, I think it was a stamp of my own maturity. So, I liked most of the things that we did for it. It was, I think, my most emotional journey as far as the script was concerned, ‘stolen’ from so many lives. It was really good experience.

jail Jail: As far as Jail is concerned. Jail was interesting because when I was brought in, the script had been written twice over. But it was written from a man’s perspective about men, so they wanted to bring an emotional aspect to it and they brought me in to do that. So, we did just that and reworked the script, started from scratch, restructured and relooked at everything… and it became a more humane one…it’s been a true collaboration between me and my co-writer Manoj Tyagi (who’s written Page 3, Corporate and Satta earlier)…I personally think it’s a better script than Fashion ☺

How do you cope with writer’s block?
There’s no one way to deal with it. Sometimes you start doubting yourself as a writer, and than you think no it’s just a block, this is normal. What I think is that there are two reasons why you have a block. Either your mind is really tired or you’re just out of ideas. So you have to take a break or feed it with some stimulus and better ideas or then of course just get drunk. . . (laughs aloud)!

What advice do you have for anyone interested in trying to succeed in Filmistan (Bollywood)? Is “Bollywood” a scary world?
Bollywood is a great place to work and it’s not a scary world, like it’s believed. It’s actually just a really tough place . . . a very tough one . . . cause it challenges just about everything in you . . . so you have to be really armed with conviction . . . about the fact that you really want to do this, no matter what . . . about what is it that you want to do in it and most of all conviction about your own abilities . . . cause you’re going to be tested on all these fronts at any given point . . . so step in if you REALLY have it in you . . . that’s the simple, honest truth.
Tell us some of your favorites –
Pastime: Watching movies, I also like to learn something new each year. This year I’m into the arts – the Renaissance period…
Food: Chinese by and large. I’m vegetarian, so I actually enjoy whatever the world has to offer as long as it’s vegetarian food.
Movie: Indian – Just like every Indian, I do love Sholay…a lot. There’s Parinda and Satya as well . . . The Godfather. Guess I love Gangsta movies!
Filmmaker: Frederico Fellini though I really like Almodovar and Alejandro Inarittu as well. . . back home it would be Shyam Benegal. As far as Indian directors are concerned, I can’t call them filmmakers because they aren’t consistent. They have sparks of genius, but not all their work is like that. I feel that Shyam Benegal has been a consistently good one.Rahul
Book: Too many. But the Tao Of Physics is something I keep going back to every once in a while . . .
Song: There are too many, can’t choose. But guess I really like ‘Pehla Nasha’ . . . there’s a certain innocence to it which is beautiful . . .
City in the world: Istanbul, Cape Town, Paris and Madrid

And lastly. . . Anuraadha close your eyes and tell us your favorite thing to do in Mumbai. If it were a Sunday morning, where would you take us?
Well. . .I guess it would be at Indigo, near my house, with friends and drinks and we would be really loud till we’re thrown out . . . That’s one thing I noticed about Mumbai that I haven’t seen anywhere else in India. . . it’s a great city to connect with people, with friends and just hang out . . .

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Responses

  1. Nice. Very interesting. I disagree about the Yaadein being a cult favorite. I was not a fan of that movie. But loved all the other movies she worked on. But congrats girls!! 🙂

  2. Hey Neetu,

    Thanks for the love! But Yaadein is a cult favorite, because most people hated that movie and there are a small number of people, like me and Jasmine, who loved it…and most people find that strange, but the people who love it, laaauuuve it!

    Sona

  3. Thank you so much. Its very nice. I like it.:D


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