By Arun Fulara. Posted on October 20, 2015
From a number of years, the bridge between writers and the producers has been increasing. It is an open secret that the ones who pen the scripts are some of the least paid people in our film industry. Anjum Rajabali, Executive Member of Film Writer's Association has been incessantly fighting for equal rights. The new Copyright Act (2012) and the recent legal verdict in the Jyoti Kapoor case have given writers some confidence and the dignity they truly deserve. Yet, the battle is on.
Film writer Abhijeet Deshpande wrote an open letter to the film fraternity with regard to the unfair treatment that the industry metes out to scriptwriters. Despande, who has written films like Shaitan (dialogue), Aage Se Right and a number of Marathi films, has come out in support of the writer's protest that took place a couple of weeks back.
In the open letter, Abhijeet expresses doubt that "when the writers’ rights will be legitimised who will benefit? The writers?" He starts off with urging producers to give the writers their due credit, pay them more and share the royalty residuals. He goes on to elaborate that, "the last decade saw the revenue models of the film industry change owing to the proliferation of the TV satellite rights market. Films no longer had to hit it big at the box-office to be viable. Projects were being made on paper, rights sold and successes celebrated irrespective of the film’s box office destiny. The script and its importance could have never been relegated as much as it was during these times. In the last year and half everything has changed. The four major broadcasters throttled the satellite market."
Abhijeet then goes on to lay the bare truth of the current fate of writers: "Many turned to television where they happily wrote crap because at least they were paid regularly. Most of us spread ourselves thin over multiple numbers of projects and saw the writing quality wither. A few others, who couldn’t bear the frustration, became directors and thus the drain of good writers and good writing continues."
In the end, Despande sums up his open letter with a matter of fact that, "it is time the entire industry acknowledged the pluralistic nature of the film business. We all need each other. The producer cannot work in isolation and think that it is the power of money that gives him colossal leverage over the rest. In fact financing might even be the most lethargic way to be a part of a highly specialised and creative business like films... The Minimum Basic Contract (MBC) conceptualised by Anjum Rajabali and Saket Chowdhary does not by any means juice the producer out. It creates a system where writers can write without the basics being contested. The negotiations with the producer bodies will begin in a day or two."
We hope that the state of writers in our industry becomes better with time. After all, content is king. You can read the full letter in the Mid Day article here.