If he made you laugh and cry, and doled out major emotions through Kota Factory in the past, with Tabbar now he kept you at the edge of your seat. A prolific writer and a phenomenal actor, Sandeep Jain talks to International Business Times about Tabbar, Kota Factory, and more.

Sandeep Jain, Tabbar
Sandeep Jain, TabbarInstagram

When did you start writing the script for Tabbar? What is your writing process like?

The writing process started when Harman Wadala came to me with the pilot episode in September 2020. The inciting incident was so interesting that immediately I could see an ocean of emotions that could be explored through the story. I immediately said yes as it gave me the opportunity to dive deeper into human emotions and present them in an interesting way. Though enjoyable, the schedule was very hectic as the shoot deadlines were tight. I worked approximately 15 hours a day, almost every single day till the shoot wasn't complete.

For me to start writing a project, the most important thing is to have a clear primary conflict and the themes associated in which I want to explore the story. Plot without themes never excites me and neither do themes without interesting plots. Thus I always try to push myself to explore various themes in an interesting way. The writing process includes many different ways depending on the type of project. Few things come from personal experience but you can't be dependent on it.

I read a lot of articles and blogs around the topic which I want to explore. I talk to a lot of people who fit the universe of the story. Then there is some alone introspection time with the story/characters/situations of the show. Specifically, this show was written in lockdown. So I was constantly on calls with other co-writers. We used to discuss every possible emotion/situation which excited each one of us and could fit the story. Also from a structure point of view, there is a difference between show and movie writing. And I always keep that in mind while breaking down the story in episodes.

Sandeep Jain

Sandeep JainInstagram

Were you expecting the show to garner such acclaim while writing it? Did you know it would create ripples?

Yes, there was some form of expectation from the show from the very moment, when during the shoot I saw how the initial scenes were turning out. It gave the feel that every department was in sync with the script and felt that something good was being created. The feeling further enhanced as we moved ahead, as the music got implemented, as the edit got complete. But, having said that I never expected the response to be so good. Also during the creative process, I generally don't think much of the results. I only think if it can be enhanced in any way possible before presenting it to the audience. Rest, the amount of ripples a story can create can be told, only when the stone is thrown into the water. But the reactions are very overwhelming as it is loved both by critics as well as the audience alike.

How close or detached are you to the script when you write? Kota Factory came mostly from your own experience. How about Tabbar?

I am extremely attached to a script when I am writing one. Even if I am doing something else during the day apart from writing, the script keeps running in my subconscious mind. I don't know if it's good or bad, but many times, interesting ideas have popped up during these writing mini-breaks. Also while writing something, the perspective to see things around changes, and your mind unknowingly tries to keep connecting it to the story as in how it could be used.

Yes, Kota Factory came from my personal experience as I have lived that life, and I have seen people around me who have gone through various issues in Kota. There were many friends of mine who did not make it to IIT while a few of my IIT Delhi batchmates were teaching in Kota itself. So I was very much well versed with the Universe and it helped.

When it comes to Tabbar, I haven't faced such a dark situation and I hope no one would ever have to but I will quickly share an incident from my childhood that was close to Tabbar's inciting incident. I was in school when the goons entered our house forcibly to steal and my father was held as a hostage with a gun in his mouth for an hour. Fortunately, everything ended well but it was a horrifying night for me and everyone in my family reacted very differently trying to handle the same situation. And if I look back at it, that is what clearly defines characters under a conflicting situation. We all had the same middle-class aspiration and values and yet we were starkly so different.

So the constant effort here as well as to follow each character's mind in detail, who starts at its own set of belief systems and how they evolve as the external impacts keep changing across the show. At the plot level, the story is primarily about the survival of a middle-class family. But at a deeper level, we have tried to play with morality conflicts, relationship conflicts, spiritual conflicts, which is something we all face at different scales in different situations and hence I tried to put that experience in it as well. I did quit my job after IIT Delhi quoting to my father that I am doing a startup but in reality I was trying to set my foot in Film Industry. And I was afraid to confess the truth to him before getting any success. Though I did confess after a year because of guilt. This is close to how Happy hides his IPS preparation thing from family as he is trying business. So, maybe layers like these from real life is what brought that relatability and connection to the characters.

Do you think of the people who should play the part when you write the roles?

I never do this and I personally don't think this is a good exercise to create fresh characters. Yes, at times I take references from real-life characters I have seen around but still I try to write a character note in detail to lock the DNA of the character. So it helps while writing as the situation changes but the DNA of the character doesn't.

Also, the good actors from our industry don't want to play themselves again and again. They want to play fresh characters and it is a similar feeling like I don't want to write the same character in the scripts again and again. Every creative person needs a kick that comes from trying something new. And hence referencing should be avoided as much as possible.

Has there been any change after Kota Factory in the way people perceive you? If you could share some instances.

A big change was that after Kota Factory people trusted me as a writer and started taking my words more seriously, though nothing major changed in me. Main ek raat pehle bhi vaise hi baatein karta tha, ya vaise hi joke maarta tha, jitna release ke ek din baad. But that is the reality, results change perception of people. Similarly, like the moment when my IIT was cleared, the perception of people around me changed and people were like "Iske thoughts hi kuchh alag honge."

But at the same time, the people who were close to me, nothing major changed for them because they knew my writing as well as me deeply. The major perception changed for the people who just knew me from far or were from the film industry. And it was good, because after Kota Factory, there were offers and I had an option to choose on the kind of projects I wanted to work upon. And I am happy Tabbar also received such a good response.

I don't recall any interesting incident from that time but something happened recently. I am about to get married and one of the members from my in-laws extended family said, "Ladke ne Kota Factory likha hai, toh thoughts achche hi honge uske". Now, I am not sure how they will react to my thoughts after watching Tabbar. "Ladka thoda light bhi hai, aur thoda dark bhi".