Writing for a quintessential Bollywood potboiler might not interest Juhi Chaturvedi, the dialogue writer of ‘Madras Cafe’ and the script, story and dialogue writer of ‘Vicky Donor’.
She admits that she finds stories in the everyday life of people. Though she chooses not to pen larger-than-life movies, she admits that there is a huge market for such films.
“There is a huge audience for potboilers but at the same time, they are not loyal to a particular kind of film. Give them intelligent cinema or realism, they enjoy that as well.
I know people who go for ‘Madras Cafe’ and also go and watch ‘Chennai Express’. I feel that they have a hectic life through the week and every Saturday, they have a designated budget and they want to enjoy themselves. It is our conscious decision which side we want to be in — the doors are always open to do all kinds of films. I don’t think I would want to write for a potboiler; my conscience will never allow me to,” she notes.
Writing the dialogues for ‘Madras Cafe’ was not an easy job. Juhi says that she had to put in effort to be realistic.
“Because of the sensitivity of the subject — where we are talking about a civil war, assassination of the prime minister of a country — I had to forget that I was writing for a film. The history was more important for me. To get a hold of reality, I started reading books on the subject and gathered a lot of information. I also met people from the ministry. Shoojit (Sircar) gave me a clear brief to maintain a realistic language. At no point was it filmi; we could not cross the boundary. We did not want to make it over-dramatic and stuck to plain and simple language. We assumed that was the kind of language used, given the fact that they were all bureaucrats and had a particular background,” she explains.
Describing the idea of her previous film, ‘Vicky Donor’, as an abstract inexplicable moment, she says that she is happy with the kind of appreciation that the film received. “Sometimes, you don’t know how to explain an abstract moment. Fortunately, it worked out and the appreciation that the film got was a huge encouragement for me. Again, it was a very sensitive subject — we were talking about infertility. It was funny, witty and humourous but the underlying sentiment was very touching. So you don’t want to offend and hurt people who are already unhappy. But the movie opened up more conversation regarding the topic — the word sperm is been used a little more generously now,” she says.
Ask her if awards matter and she replies that they are inconsequential and don’t drive her to strive for excellence. She is quite candid about the fact that she doesn’t want to spin fantasy tales and it is the common man that inspires her. “When I have to look for characters, I dig them from all those people whom I have met in my life. My characters come from the real world, their problems are real. We tend to ignore simple things and how insightful they are. I look up to Woody Allen and Satyajit Ray for the simplicity that they stuck to. They did not try to weave big plots,” she sums up.