Business Standard

It gets heavy on soul when you can't tell your stories: Bhavani Iyer


Press Trust of India Mumbai
Bhavani Iyer views life the way she writes her films: with unflinching empathy, so even as her list of personal scripts pile up, she is saddened but not bitter.
Credited with writing acclaimed films like Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black", Vikramaditya Motwane's "Lootera" and Meghna Gulzar's "Raazi", Bhavani says sometimes being a film writer can get "a little heavy on your soul."

"Because there are stories that you want to tell. Those may be the stories that everyone wants to hear but you're not a factor that can decide that these are the stories that need to reach people.
"There are other pillars which decide which film needs to reach the audiences. I've suffered because of that with a lot of my personal stories I want to tell. Whether it was 'Lootera' or 'Kaafir' taking the time that it took," she says.
But the weight of her personal scriptsas many as 37still waiting to come to life on screen can sometimes pulls her down.
In an interview with PTI, Bhavani says she often finds herself in doubt: "Why are my stories not good enough? Or considered not important enough to be told?"

"The stories are always in my conscience, living, present and breathing. I sometimes have to apologise to them, that I'm not giving justice to them. But now I've got confidence. All those producers who said 'Kaafir' won't work are wrong. I'm right.
"I'm a storyteller people want to listen to. This has empowered me. It was not a commissioned story. I wrote it for myself and it has now been accepted," she adds.
Even as she delves into genres as diverse as romance and thriller, what remains constant is Bhavani's sensitive gaze at conflict - both of the heart and in the land.
The writer credits this to the books she read growing up and her upbringing.
"My maternal grandfather was a poet and my paternal grandfather was a priest. Therefore, literature and spiritualism were part of the dining table conversation.
"I've always been able to understand things from a loftier perceptive and learnt to remove myself from the equation and not make it just about me when I'm looking at any issue. The perspective, which is the most important tool for a writer, is probably ingrained in me from what I've seen."

Born in Bengaluru, Bhavani grew up wishing to be a novelist with a shelf dedicated to her books. Finding herself writing for films now, she calls the journey "unreal."

"I didn't plan the filmography that I have. I didn't plan I would have films like 'Lootera', 'Raazi', or the show '24'. The writing is pretty evident in them and not been overwhelmed by anything else - by a star power, for example."

The writer moved to Mumbai for her graduation and joined an ad agency. Later, she worked with a popular film magazine and confesses she wasn't a good journalist.
However, the stint altered the course of Bhavani's life when during one of her earlier interviews, she met filmmaker Anurag Kashyap.
The director read some of her short stories and encouraged her to write for films. He introduced her to Motwane, who had just finished assisting Bhansali on "Devdas".
"I wrote two scripts for Vikram, first one was 'Bombay Talkies' not the one which came out and 'Lootera'. Bhansali read 'Bombay Talkies' and loved the rhythm of the writing. We planned a meeting of 30 minutes which lasted for four hours. Within 8 months, I was on board for 'Black', and then life changed," she adds.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Jul 28 2019 | 3:50 PM IST

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