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Lyrix in Pix: Look…Love Me Dear

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Vignettes from the workshop - 1

Author’s Note: These are an assimilation of opinions and observations made over the 5 days spent at the workshop. The piece and the ones to follow will be a pastiche, so my apologies to the readers.

The tea nearly escaped my nostrils as I struggled to stifle a chuckle. One of the volunteers had just requested all the participants to leave their cell phones at the registration desk and a passer-by in the corridor on hearing this did a double take, withdrew a Blackberry and an additional phone from his pockets and retraced his steps back to the front of the auditorium. Quite obviously my initial apprehension of Kamal Haasan’s involvement in the workshop being purely titular, was misplaced. So it came as much less of a surprise later to know that the man was involved in even details such as designing the logo of the workshop.

Ravages has already introduced and setup (pardon my newfound screenplay parlance) the major characters, so let me jump headfirst into character development. As the only pure screenwriting professional there, Anjum Rajabali carried the larger load when it came to the instructional material as well as the number bottles of water consumed. On the podium he was all emotion but never digressing from the central plot. The intensity he brought to the lectures was very indicative of where he would find his writing stimuli, in the internal dialectics of his characters. Professor K. Hariharan was far more clinical in his approach with prepared slides and pinpoint scene deconstruction. Over the course of the workshop I had the opportunity to discuss various topics with the man and every one left me at least a little more curious than when the conversation began (always the hallmark of a good conversation for me).

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Notes from the first Chennai International Screenwriting Workshop

Editor’s Note:
Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan aka ‘ravages’ needs no introduction to the Indian blog audience. He was fortunate to be part of the Chennai International Screenwriting Workshop and we are fortunate to have him share his experiences, as a guest blogger.

Hello folks,

So, I was one of the 250 people selected to attend the first Chennai International Screenwriting Workshop conducted by Kamal Haasan and IIT.

A 4-day workshop, followed by 2 days of seminars, to put it in Kamal’s words, are “the first baby steps” to find the next generation of screenwriters for the film industry.

Kamal Haasan assembled together a team of speakers — Anjum Rajabali, K Hariharan and Atul Tiwari — while contributing in some sessions himself.

Taking the brunt of the teaching/instructing work was Anjum Rajabali. Anjum is the head of the screenwriting department at FTII Pune and Whistling Woods, Mumbai. Anjum, for those who don’t know him, is the writer of Ghulam, Drohkaal (the film that later became Kurudhippunal) and Legend of Bhagat Singh. From setting up the premise, to developing the plot, laying out the structure and developing characters and characteristics, the workshop covered quite a bit of ground. But most of it was at a basic level, intended to give those who’ve never had to write before a good foundation. For me, it was ground I’d already covered but still there were some useful pointers.

Kamal, not that it surprised me, was articulate and intelligent. In one session, he talked to us about Hey Ram and his thought process in writing the film. While not always sticking to the point (Kamal has a tendency to meander, talk about various other things that strikes his fancy), he managed to give us all a clear idea of what kind of research a writer needs to undertake in writing for a film.

Anjum talked to us about premise, plot and structure, while Hariharan covered characterisation (with hilarious examples), timing and detailing. Atul Tiwari covered dialogues and chipped in with anecdotes during other sessions.

While the idea to conduct the workshop in Chennai is Kamal’s (similar workshops have been conducted in Bombay and Delhi), his maximum input was in the seminar where he brought some of the best Indian directors — K Balachander, Balu Mahendra, Shekhar Kapur, Rituparno Ghosh — and screenwriters from different parts of the world, to share their experiences with us.

But perhaps the biggest contribution Kamal made was as a learner himself. Unlike a few stars who’d make token appearances at events, Kamal spent the entire duration of the workshop, never missing a session, as attentive as the 250 of us.

On the final day, we all had our photographs taken with the workshop leaders - Kamal, Anjum, Hariharan and Atul. After which was the little surprise. The screening of a short trailer of Marudhanaayagam. A good end to the workshop.

I will try and write more about it in coming days. Till then, au revoir.

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Lyrix in Pix: Megam Kottattum

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Lyrix in Pix: Andhi Mazhai

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Photos, videos from the screenwriting workshop

SivajiTV and IndiaGlitz and ChennaiOnline (1 | 2 | 3) have videos of the media event on May 28. The former is more complete, including questions from the press.

A wide range of photographs are available from Behindwoods, IndiaGlitz, OneIndia, Chennai365 (1 | 2), SivajiTV, ChennaiOnline, Top10Cinema.com.

Also see news reports from Sify.com, The Times of India, Thatstamil, News Today, ChennaiOnline (English | Tamil), CineSouth and TamilCinema.com.

[With inputs from Ananth]

[Picture courtesy: BehindWoods]

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Lyrix in Pix: Kanne Kalaimane

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