Renowned writer-lyricist duo Siddharth and Garima, also known for their work in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and Bajirao Mastani (2015), in Akshay Kumar starter film Toilet Ek Prem Katha, has started their own YouTube channel -- 'The Fasterclass'. Here, they are teaching budding writers the nuances of perfect storytelling.
In an exclusive and freewheeling conversation with International Business Times, India, dynamic duo Garima and Siddharth spoke about working with Akshay Kumar, if they ever change the script of the film as per the demands of an actor, their first Hollywood crossover film and more.
Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us something about the YouTube channel?
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We're not telling you the dos and don'ts for being an exceptional writer. Rather, jostling up those nerves which will bring out the stories in you-from your childhood, to everyday events, let's get a word for each one of them. Whatever you see is a story to tell and we're here to help you with the ways you can play with words. Let's get started then? Because it's not a master class but a FASTERCLASS!! Edited by - Tenzin Kunchok @tenzoon7 Graphics by - Anish Pavitran @pavitrananish #Fasterclass #WriterBanoge
Garima: There were a lot of people who were messaging us and trying to getting in touch with us saying if we could give some tips to them on writing, so we thought that let's make it into a tiny entertaining campaign. That's how we started the YouTube channel. We wanted to do something productive and empowering at the same time.
Siddharth: We have been working in the industry for the past seven years now, seven to eight films we have written, so we thought to connect with people. At the moment it is our YouTube channel that we have started, the Fasterclass and we want to teach as many people as possible.
When it comes to writing films, do you think the industry has evolved in terms of scriptwriting and understanding the script?
Siddharth: Change is the only constant thing for us, people are ready to accept new ideas, with a fresh cast, and now people are more open to experiments. The audience was always ready. I guess, It is the producers, the actors who are accepting and attempting new roles, so things have changed, and thanks to the OTT invention.
Garima: I guess the scripts are being received in a different way these days. Sometimes as writers we do come up with the ideas that are inspired from real life and so the reception for that is better, we get more freedom to create and go into the zone that we want to go in.
When you write a script, do you make changes according to what the actors want or do you have your vision and change it only when it is necessary?
Siddharth: We have only written for content-driven films in our entire career. Be it Toilet: Ek Prem Katha or a few more which will be coming out soon. We didn't change them according to the actors because the actor only brings it a fabric change, a little bit here and there with the dialogues, that's it.
Garima: Anybody who writes or creates should be able to mould the script in a way that the actor owns it. So luckily for us, whatever the script we have written, actors have connected very well to it, we never had to change the screenplays which are why some of the films that have been successful and have worked. Tone changes are very normal, sometimes the actor comes up with a really good suggestion so we feel open to taking those. While writing we also have to keep the location in the mind and even during the shoot if we see something interesting around, we make sure that we incorporate that in the script or in the dialogues.
In '90s Akshay Kumar was monikered as Khiladi Kumar, and now he is doing socially-relevant roles, how is he on the sets, what are his inputs for the scripts?
Garima: Akshay sir is a person who was extremely adaptive to change. Toilet was not really his comfort zone if I may tell you. The films he has done before that were not as rural and desi as this was. Also, this was a socially relevant film with a lot of entertain in it, so which is where his personality comes in really handy. The best thing about him is that he is very jovial on set and gives us full authority to write. We didn't have any pressure and pressure while working with him something as big as Toilet. With all the Mazak – Masti, he is the most professional actor we come across. He comes on set on time, he does reading one night prior to the scene shoot, so those the things which are great and wonderful about him.
Siddharth: He is a very intelligent actor; he knows his audience and he knows the connect that he has with the masses so he was very comfortable with the script. We did many readings, he wanted to get comfortable with the dialogues of the film because the dialogues Toilet has a different tone, the Mathura-Brij tone, and he picked it up really well. If senior actors are so adaptive and reflective in terms of writing then it is very good.
Siddharth: We are writing a couple of things and we are going to direct our own film. On the writing front, there's a film with an LA-based production house, basically Bollywood-Hollywood crossover kind of thing and it loosely inspired by Elvis Presley love life.
Garima: Apart from this, there's a film with Akshay sir, we are writing one for him. There's another issue-based film that we are working on and we are hoping to finish writing it by the time lockdown ends.