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Scripting Bollywood

 | Book Awards 2022 | English Non-fiction

Scripting Bollywood

Did you know that Shama Zaidi, who scripted Garam Hava and Mandi, introduced the master filmmaker Satyajit Ray to the concept of the colour palette in films? That Sooni Taraporevala, the writer of Salaam Bombay!, spent her student years at Harvard working various jobs as a dishwasher, server, security guard...? That Juhi Chaturvedi, who wrote Piku, goes back to her childhood to give flesh and blood to her characters? Or that Sabrina Dhawan took two years to complete another script after Monsoon Wedding? Fourteen women screenwriters in Bollywood, who have penned everything: classics like Umrao Jaan and Rudaali; potboilers like Aaina and Dil To Pagal Hai; spy thrillers like Raazi; and spunky comedies like Vicky Donor, talk about their craft and let readers into their lives and inspirations. These candid, insightful conversations are personal, powerful, real!

Full Title: Scripting Bollywood: Candid Conversations with Women who Write Hindi Cinema

Author: Anubha Yadav
Publisher: Women Unlimited

Award Category: English Non-fiction
About the Book: 

Scripting Bollywood is a first-of-its-kind volume that focuses on the life-world and writing practices of women screenwriters in Bollywood, an industry that is traditionally dominated by men. Through candid conversations, 14 women, who have penned everything: classics like Umrao Jaan and Rudaali; potboilers like Aaina and Dil To Pagal Hai; spy thrillers like Raazi; and spunky comedies like Vicky Donor, give their take on female writers and their relationship with the commercial Bollywood framework; women and the collaborative process of filmmaking; how their own realities give rise to memorable stories; and the liberating experience of writing for digital platforms.

The book is a treasure of insights into the work of these wonderful screenwriters, and how their life experiences have shaped their creativity. A rewarding book for everyone interested in cinema! —Vishal Bhardwaj

A record of how women screenwriters have enriched Hindi cinema with their unique point of view. A must [read] for those who want the back story of the finest cinema ever written. A very timely book! —Ronnie Screwvala

About the Author: 

Anubha Yadav is an academic and writer based in Delhi. She has been teaching broadcast studies since 15 years at the University of Delhi. A member of the International Screenwriting Network, she has spent a decade researching in the area of screenwriting studies, and has published and presented papers in India and abroad. Yadav’s short stories have won awards, and her writing has been published in several journals, magazines and news outlets, including Huffington Post, Hindustan Times, The Times of India, and The Wire, among others. Her debut novel is The Anger of Saintly Men.


I cannot write in third person, like an outsider. I have to become the character to seamlessly drive the scene, the plot, the film. If I have to write about an extremely ghatiya insaan (lowly person), then I have to believe that I am that and see what all I can do. It is interesting to allow yourself to completely surrender to the character. Whatever it is saying or doing will come out naturally only if you keep your judgment aside. For me, as Juhi it might not be the right thing to do at that point of time, but the character has to do it. It can happen only when I set aside my logic and intellect. You have to believe that there are all kinds of people in the world. Everybody will not please you, will not be your friend or have a clean soul. In Piku, Rana Chaudhary’s (Irrfan Khan) sister is caught stealing her mother-in-law’s gold ring. If I see it from my point of view, her actions are wrong, but aise bhi log exist karte hain (such people also exist). As a woman, I try to understand her actions. Why did she steal her mother-in-law’s ring and give it to her mother? It could be [out of] love. She doesn’t earn, but she still wants to give her mother something. I just try to find the humanness. I don’t even know how that scene came to me; it just did, and I went along with it.

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