Wednesday, July 15, 2009



Written by : Rahul Deveshwar

The Indian film and television industry is looking for good, original screenplays, There is a huge opportunity for scriptwriters who understand the art and craft of screenwriting and also a demand for fresh voices and out of the box thinking with the diminishing appeal of the formula masala film.

Learn to write scripts for film and television from Rajashree, an award-winning filmmaker and bestselling novelist, who has taught at FTII, Pune, and some of the best film schools in Mumbai. The scriptwriting workshop will be conducted over six weekends in Goregaon, Mumbai, (11 am to 4 pm on six Sundays and two Saturdays) from the 18th of July. The students would be given certificates at the completion of the workshop,

Rajashree has been working in Bombay after studying direction at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. She’s assisted Mansoor Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. A film she wrote and directed, The Rebel, was screened at many film festivals, and won the National Award and the Golden Ten Award. Her critically acclaimed first book, Trust Me, is a lighthearted romantic comedy set in the Bombay film industry. According to figures given by The Times of India and The Sunday Telegraph, Trust Me is the biggest-selling Indian chick lit novel.

Rajashree would be the main person conducting the workshop. There would also be guest lectures by professionals from the film and television industry.


The students will be taught scriptwriting by interactive sessions and theory classes.


The students would write at home and then read out their work in interactive sessions in which they receive feedback as well as suggestions. They would be required to work on assignments that strengthen their understanding of the concepts being taught and a full-fledged script (screenplay and dialogues) for a 10-minute film.

1. Writing concepts for 4 films and brief character sketches of 3 characters every week.

2. A scene - One Character, One Space - in which situations, characters & states of mind are depicted by audiovisual means
3. One-page character sketches of a fictional character & a real person the student knows personally
4. A detailed character sketch of one person who can be the protagonist of a film
5. Writing a scene in the international format, in which the character of the protagonist is established.
6. A scene-by-scene analysis of a classic Indian commercial film in the form of a step-outline / one-line script

7. Scene-by-scene analysis of a feature film the student likes
8. Visiting a place for an hour, taking notes and writing an actuality trip report in audiovisual terms

9. Interviewing a person and writing a report about that

Script for a Short Film
1. The basic idea
2. The synopsis
3. What is the premise of the film? What is the theme? What are the socio-political and ethical ideas being conveyed?
4. Character sketches of the main characters, keeping their physiology, sociology and psychology in mind. The back story – what has happened in the life of the character before the film begins? How does the character change and grow through the film.
5. The Step-Outline of the film, in which every scene is described in a paragraph.
6. Screenplay with dialogue for the short film

Workshop on the Step-Outline of a Film: Starting from scratch, the teacher and students would write a brief step outline for an original film screenplay in class.


Film-making: As a scriptwriter, it is necessary to understand the process of making a film - pre-production, production and post-production. A brief overview of how films are made would be given to the students.

Storytelling: The audience is looking for a good story told well. Fiction films are basically about telling stories through visuals and sounds. What are the elements of a good story? Where do stories come from? Life as a source – memory, imagination, experience – yours & others. The nature and role of intuition Universalizing the personal experience. Importance of research.
Adaptation from literary works The difference between actually being inspired and stealing ideas

Audiovisual Writing: Films are an audiovisual medium so a script is basically a description of the visuals and sounds that will be seen and heard in the film. What are the elements of visual story telling? The discipline of writing a screenplay. The ‘outer manifestation of inner feelings’ which Satyajit Ray talks about.

The Format: The format for writing the Synopsis, Step-outline, Screenplay and Script for a film.

The Elements of Scriptwriting: Action, Character, Setting, Theme, Structure.

Characterization: How to create 3 dimensional characters. How to establish characters on screen. The Protagonist and the Antagonist. Dramatic Need of the protagonist & its relation to the plot. The way the character grows and changes during the film. Establishing characters on screen. “Show, don’t tell.”

Structuring: Understanding the way screenplays of films are structured and learning how to use these elements in your own work: The 3-act structure. Set-Up, Confrontation, Crisis, Climax, Resolution, etc. Plot, Sub-plot, weaving them together. The structure of commercial Hindi films.

Learning from tradition: The art of dramatic writing has been written about for thousands of years. We would talk about Bharat’s Natyashastra, Nav Rasas & their relationship with Indian films.

The Importance of Conflict: Drama comes from conflict. We would analyse the types of conflict: Static Conflict, Jumping Conflict, Rising Conflict, Foreshadowing Conflict. How mystery, surprise and suspense are used.

What does the film ‘say’: Films reflect the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times when the film was made and the Weltenschaung, the worldview of the film-maker. We would discuss the Premise, Theme, Ideology, Ethical & Socio-Political Ideas conveyed through films.

Film History: An overview of the history of Cinema in India and the rest of the world

Film Analysis: The concepts discussed in the practical and theory classes would be explained by viewing and analyzing films. Films from the following categories would be screened and analysed:
Classic Commercial Indian film
Short films
Contemporary Multiplex Indian film
A documentary film
A classic of World Cinema
Contemporary World Cinema

Television: Writing for fiction and non-fiction TV shows.

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