As Robin Bhatt receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jaipur International Film Festival (JIFF) 2019 for his noteworthy writing in films such as Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Baazigar, Raja Hindustani and Omkara to name a few, he tells us about his writing process, his learning curve and future projects. Excerpts:
How do you feel about receiving this prestigious award at JIFF?
I think it’s too early. (Laughs). But anyway, I have a lifetime to go and write stories and become a perfect writer. (Having said that) any kind of appreciation or award that a person receives definitely feels good.
You have written scripts for different genres. Please tell us about your writing process and how difficult or easy is it for you after all these years?
I learned script writing by watching other films. We had no schools when I started writing. I used to read books about script writing that were popular at my time to understand the structure of writing. Then I used to look for those structures in the films that I used to watch. That’s how, slowly, I taught myself. The one thing that I learned from the very beginning, thanks to two directors that I worked with, Narendra Bedi and Mahesh Bhatt, is that every story must have a beginning, middle and an end. So until and unless I have a perfect beginning, middle and end in my mind, I won’t start writing a script. My strategy is to first write the story with these three things so that you know where you are starting and where you are going. Once you’ve achieved that, you can now start formatting it into a full-blown script. See, everyone can write but it is actually a technical job and you need to learn how to write perfectly.
So what would you say is the genre you enjoy the most?
All genres. I have written a rom-com like Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin and a family comedy like Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke. My scripts vary from hard-hitting stories to romantic stories. Baazigar was another very interesting project. So yeah, I have enjoyed experimenting with genres. I want to do something to shock the audience, always. That’s how I started and luckily, things started working in my favour.
You have worked for a really long time in the industry. What do you think has changed as far as writing in the industry is concerned in the past few years?
Yes, they are more professional now. More discipline has come into writing now. Earlier, I know producers would do a project and they would start shooting with only half-baked stories. That is not the case now. People have understood the value of perfect stories and they are ready to give time to the writer. The more you work on your stories, the better they become. Also, new talent is coming forward to get into this profession so it’s a good thing.
Today's time is called the Golden Age for writers because they are getting the kind of recognition that they deserve. What are your thoughts on that?
Today might be the Golden Age of writing but still, writers are not getting what is due to them. Be it the matter of credit or money, writers are not getting enough. I am the president of the Screen Writer’s Association and our endeavour is to get enough credit for the writer and money also. Most of the times you see that FM radio programmes or publicity material do not even mention the music director’s name. They ignore songwriters even when they are very important members of any song. That kind of recognition has to be there for a writer. In India, writers as compared to the world cinema stage, are paid very less. But also, there is a lot of work for everyone now thanks to television and the newly emerging and exploding digital platforms that get a lot of work for the writers.
What is next for you?
I am working on a script for Rakesh Roshan. Then also I am working on a script for Ajay Devgn. There is another script for Sanjay Dutt as well.