Screenplay: Are there any Rules for this Game?
It is said that if you have Tact, and lots of it, then you succeed, naturally. Suppose, you are not tactful, again and naturally, you fail and considered as a failure.
The moral is, whichever way you succeed, you naturally have some tact. Even if you think you have succeeded and others think that you are a failure by the present worldly standards, then again you are alleged to be bereft of tactfulness.
The Screenplay, in the make-believe world of cinema, is something like what we normally and most often inadvertently refer to as Tact.
Tact is defined by the dictionary as an acute sensitivity to what is proper and appropriate in dealing with others, including the ability to speak or act without offending.
The Screenplay is generally known as the script for a movie, including descriptions of scenes and some camera directions.
Thus if a film succeeds at the box office or even otherwise, but gets critical acclaim is always credited with tactful screenplay.
If a movie hits the box-office bonanza, the screen play is good. And naturally the flop show has no screenplay as such.
Do you remember the story of the six blind men and the elephant?
Each expert in the movie-land has his own theory and practice of what is called screenplay. So is the case with film reviewers. No one knows what screenplay is or even if they know and make a good film based on it, they won’t tell anyone the secret of screenplay.
In the world of cinema, you are credited with tactfulness if you don’t teach others what you know or what you learnt.
It is a fact; however, that screenplay is the skeleton-muscles-views-and-nerves of cinema. You will never be faulted if you deduce that the reason for hundreds of films flopping is because of faulty screenplay.
Though this is neither the space nor time to give a detailed disposition on the art and science of screenplay, we may explore the broad contours of screenplay…..more in a way to appreciate cinema better.
Fundamentally, screenplay is the essence of audio-visual story telling. It would be fallacious to assume that all the films that have not become box office hits have bad screenplays.
The mechanics of box-office have many factors, a few known but more unknown. Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Kshana Kshanam‘ is an example. It was declared a flop on its first release, but had a hundred days run on its second and third and subsequent releases. It is still a favorite of the audience, whenever it is telecast on TV channels.
So were the two of the greatest Hindi movies which were declared flops on first release: Moghul-e-Azam and Mera Naam Joker. The fault is not with the screen play. Could be the mood of the then audience. But, should the screen play writer not take into account the mood of the audience, who are the consumers of celluloid products?
The two super hit Hindi movies ‘Teesri Manzil‘ and ‘Baazigar’ were remade in Telugu, with disastrous results. Those who have seen both the Hindi and Telugu films would instinctively know that the Telugu versions had bad screen play.
From the audience point of view, it would suffice to describe screenplay as a multi-disciplinary technique for effective audio-visual story telling.
Effectiveness clearly implies the sustained interest of the audience from commencement of the cinema to the conclusion. In a nutshell, screenplay is the presentation of a story.
Any story can be told interestingly. Among our friends, some tell us a joke and we instantly burst into laughter. The same joke told by some others makes us yawn into instant boredom.
Normally, screenplay consists of conceptualization, characterization, camera point of view, clarity of narration and communication with the audience. It also involves the use of right equipment, right techniques and right mood creation for the right situations. It also means that every scene is a logical extension of the previous one. It ensures that the unity of command of the central theme running thought the cinema.
A good screen play takes care to see that there are no contradictions in characterization. There are about 80 plus different, yet unique camera shots. Screenplay requires the proper shot for clarity of narration with appropriate editing. It also takes care of communicating….visually, verbally, emotionally, symbolically and completely.
How is the present scenario in Tollywood?
Imagine an aspiring writer approaching an aspiring cine director and narrating a story line. The director gives
a patient hearing and then tells him, “The story is good, but come back again to me within a few days with the full screen play. Remember the important things: There should be at least 3 fights and 6 songs. The entry of hero and heroine should be highlights. There should be at least one car chase. The climax should be a tight fight, guns, bombs and all. Don’t forget a couple of sentimental scenes with mother and sister or even with father and brother. One more thing…see some English and Hindi movies and then create some interesting incidents… no it is not copying… we don’t believe in plagiarism. We just get inspired by good films in other languages. I know you have spark but nothing wrong in imitating. Original stories get awards, but there will be no moolah at the box office”.
This is the reason why around 600 films lie in the backyards of Prasad and other Labs, because there are no takers for their release. If the audience likes a film, it has a good screen play. If they don’t, then there is nothing.
We may not be the acknowledged authorities on screenplay, but let us hope that the movie-makers do not make a mockery of screen play and play with the silver screen, the only mass media entertainer, taking the consummate audience for granted.