‘Emotional turmoil often helps generate comedy’

‘Emotional turmoil often helps generate comedy’

By Bulbul Sharma | | 7 October, 2017
Bhoomi, Welcome Back, Freaky Ali, comedy, Emotional turmoil, Raaj Shaandilyaa, Bollywood films, Laughter Challenge, Comedy Circus, Tubelight, Harry Met Sejal, Comedy Circus, Limca Book of Records, The Kapil Sharma Show
Raaj Shaandilyaa.
Thrilled after the success of his previous few films—including Bhoomi (2017), Welcome Back (2015) and Freaky Ali (2016)— scriptwriter Raaj Shaandilyaa speaks to Guardian 20 about, among other things, his journey as a comedy writer, and on the difference between comedy and serious writing.

Q. How did scriptwriting happen to you? Was it a part of your future plan?

A. I was 14 when I wrote my first poem for an event when I was in Jhansi. And then, when I was doing my graduation from Bhopal, Laughter Challenge had started. I saw that show and I thought it is brilliant, so let us start writing professionally. After which I came to Mumbai to try for it in September 2006. Then I met some of the comedians, they were doing Laughter Challenge at that time. And then I started writing professionally… When Comedy Circus came and I wrote scripts for it, it was much liked by everyone. I wrote for seven years for that show, until 2013. I had never thought I will write professionally but when I thought it is good to make others laugh I continued writing and I am still doing it.

Q. You have written dialogues for comedy films like Welcome Back and Freaky Ali. But Bhoomi is a revenge drama, a serious film. How did this drastic shift happen?

A. I just wanted to break this myth that a writer who writes comedy, he/she can’t write a film that has lot of drama and deals with social issues. And I did it for myself. When I got Bhoomi I thought let me try. I would have tried my hand at this genre a bit later but luckily I got it (Bhoomi) earlier. I had been writing comedy, be it for films or television.So with this film I thought I need to give a new flavour to the audiences and myself. I needed to understand if I can write movies of this genre. So, for this reason writing Bhoomi wasn’t a sudden thing for me but it turning out to be Sanju Baba’s [Sanjay Dutt] comeback film was a happy coincidence.

Q. How different is writing an emotional script from a comedic one?

A. There is obviously a difference because they are different genres. When writing for comedy the only thing I look forward to is making others laugh but when I am working on a serious film I have to take care of both the aspects—comedy and drama. If people are crying, they should be laughing first. When we say making people laugh is difficult, it actually is difficult, especially in today’s scenario when people have so many problems to deal with.

Also, only when there is an emotional turmoil only then can you generate comedy. Writing a comedy and serious film is also different because both timing and emotions are also different. So, when I was writing Bhoomi I had a different mood and when I was writing Welcome Back or Freaky Ali I had a different mood and the upcoming movies also are of a different mood. Every film has a different mood, so I am just trying my hand at these.

Q. Malang is another highly-anticipated film that you are working on. Could you please talk a bit about the storyline and your inspiration?

A. Malang has a unique storyline altogether. It is a different type of a thriller, which is also a family film. Generally you don’t want to watch a thriller with family but this particular film will also be enjoyed by family audiences. Also, this film gives out a strong message that will again be unique. The movie also takes forward an ideology. Rest about the story I will only talk about the details when I will be able to fully frame it.

Q. Do you think scriptwriters are given the much-needed due in the industry both in terms of recognition and remuneration?

A. Farmers and writers in India both put in a lot of hardwork but they get nothing. If a film works actor and director walk away with the accolades, if it fails it becomes a writer’s fault. It has always been the case. But things are changing now. People have started to feel that a writer should get what he deserves. Along with recognition, they also get remuneration which they deserve.

Initially when I used to do Comedy Circus, they never used to give credits… Later, I started getting credits, so things are changing on television. That was also a different fight and post that we started getting credits and better compensation. It is also happening in films now. Only a film with better content is working now. Be it Tubelight or Harry Met Sejal, a film that lacked story didn’t work. You take Shahrukh [Khan] or Salman Bhai [Salman Khan], it doesn’t make a difference. Now if the film is good, it is written well, characters are well-etched, direction is good, it is only then that it works, and the audience has understood this. I feel that both recognition and remuneration for the writers will get better in the coming years.

Q. Many a time punchlines at The Kapil Sharma Show are considered derogatory towards women or even sexiest. What is your take on it?

A. Everyone has a different thought process. India is a very diverse country with many religions, sections and roughly 1.3 billion people. We can’t change the mood of all of these people. I always say that we are responsible for what we have written but we don’t take responsibility for how others have perceived it. The Kapil Sharma Show is a show which talks about husbands and wives, neighbours, and it also has a set like that, so we have to talk about certain things. We never humiliate women, children and old people anywhere in the show. It is only about the perception.

Q. To be able to enact comic scenes and make audiences laugh is considered most difficult. So, is it the same for scriptwriting?

A. We are born crying, nobody is born laughing. Making others laugh is the biggest task. Laughter also makes us different from animals. Be it films or television, comedy is given a lot of importance. As for drama and making people cry is concerned, it is the easiest task. If you hurt somebody they’ll immediately start crying, making them laugh is very difficult.

Q. You also hold the Limca Book of Records for having written 625 comedy scripts when you were doing Laughter Challenge. How challenging is to ensure that script is not repetitive?

A. You cannot buy punchlines, you have to create them, so obviously writing unique comedy scripts is very challenging. We always have to take care of the exclusivity of the content. For me the only difference is because now I have a habit of writing these, I can write these a bit easily and naturally.

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