Her first novella Almost Single sold more than 100,000 copies and she had the lucrative option of turning it into a Bollywood movie. Instead, first-time author Advaita Kala worked on the story and screenplay of Anjaana Anjaani, scheduled to release this week. “Siddharth Anand's call came out of the blue. I had been refusing offers from film-makers wanting to adapt Almost Single and other offers of script writing and I thought word had got around that I wasn't keen on movies,” says Advaita, on her first brush with films.
Intrigued by the premise of the story that came from Siddharth's wife, Advaita sketched out the characters. “I developed the bio and lived with the characters for a couple of days but was not sure. In four days I called Siddharth and said I'd like to give it a shot.” Advaita began writing the script, a different experience from penning a novel. Guidance came from a scriptwriter friend in Delhi and Siddharth played an active part. “Siddharth knows the grammar of Hindi cinema. I like the way he goes the distance to get things done for his film. Writing a screenplay can also be a lonely process like writing a novel, but along the way when others get involved, it becomes a fun collaborative effort,” says Advaita. She wrote the first draft with an approach similar to that of writing a book. “I sent them as chapters to Siddharth,” she laughs. Even before the release of Anjaana Anjaani, Advaita was asked by Sujoy Ghosh to write the story for his next film, Kahani. The film that goes on floors in October stars Vidya Balan. Advaita doesn't go by box office diktats and looks at Sujoy's work beyond Aladin. “Sujoy is an ideas man. His Kahani is in a different creative space than Aladin. I am excited and proud to be part of Kahani.”
The author has had more offers but stops short of disclosing them. “I am a great starter but not a finisher. I don't want to have egg on my face taking about something and leaving it midway,” she laughs. Her penchant for trying out new things has her thinking of writing a play. “I love writing conversations in English and like the works of Tennessee Williams,” she says. But before that, she wants to write her next book, which maybe a novel adaptation of Kahani. In the meantime, she is in no hurry to see Almost Single being adapted into a movie.
“The story is centred on a woman and you need a film-maker who can understand those sensibilities. The other day a woman director referred to my protagonist as ‘fat' and I objected saying she had body issues.” Advaita recalls how The Independent referred to her protagonist as ‘Bridget Jones in a sari'. That is past. Advaita's focus is her second book.
Keywords: script writing