Screenwriter and producer Kanika Dhillon, who has written films like Manmarziyaan, Kedarnath, Judgment Hai Kya and Netflix’s film Guilty, feels that this is a great time to tell different kinds of stories on screen.
Kanika chatted with fans during a recent Facebook Live from The Indian Express page, where she opened up about flawed characters, her struggle with cooking during lockdown and writing for films is different from the web.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
How are you spending your days in lockdown?
I am trying to keep numb. However we are all very lucky to have food and shelter at home. There are many less disadvantaged people. So, just trying to do a lot of gratitude. Also, I have renewed respect for all those who help drive us home. I am trying to cook, but I am very bad at it! I have also started gardening because my gardener is clearly not coming.
Along with some of my friends, I started an initiative called ‘Feed the Hungry’. So far we have sent food to over 40,000 people. We are hoping to raise more money and send more food until lockdown.
How do you see the industry changing lockdown postings?
A lot of films are set to be released on OTT platforms. I just hope that once the lockdown opens, it’s safe, and people go back to theaters and we go back to making movies and then releasing theaters.
When you started going out, what inspired you in the industry?
I started as an apprentice in Shahrukh Khan-owned Red Chillies. So, there was this producer named Bobby Chawla, Juhi Chawla’s brother, a very dear friend and a mentor. He was the first person who saw my writing and said that I should write stories, and he definitely deserves to appear in films.
What kind of stories do you want to tell?
I like telling all kinds of stories. If you have seen my body of work, then I have written films like Judgment from Manmarziyaan to Kedarnath for Kya Hai and now Doshi, and all the genres are completely different. Even my upcoming film Haseen Dilruba, featuring Taapsee Pannu and Vikrant Massey, is a romantic thriller. I only like to tell stories and characters that excite me, anything that keeps me going is interesting.
Your female characters are flawed and have no qualms about making a mistake. Have you ever intercepted this, especially when the films are all about love stories and perfect endings?
Initially, Manmarziyaan were with people who had merit. Even the actors who we encountered before Taaspee (Pannu) and the final cast felt that the morality and moral compass was perhaps a little skewed, and they would probably not be accepted by the audience. Therefore, questions were being raised on him. But I like my flawed character and I have no other way of doing it.
Are authors free to find a voice in the industry?
Yes, even more recently because as you know, before the lockdown took place, such exciting stories were unfolding. We had new shows on the web, where anyone could write and create a wide variety of items. I don’t know how things are going to happen in the future but at least former Kovid-19, it was a great time to be a writer and find a voice.
What was the motivation behind the convict?
I have studied at Delhi University and had a lot of important issues about rape and women’s rights, which further centered around the right to consent. But we wanted to write a story that goes beyond that, which talks about privilege, which talks about the verdict of the victim and the accused, and how we put these people in a trial before any verdict is announced. So where does the main seed of the culprit come from?
Remember the glimpse of your acting in Judmental Hai Kya?
Do you like pulling my leg (Laughs) Sita had run away and I had to step in because I was a classical dancer and was on stage. We were shooting in London, therefore, we couldn’t find someone in such a short period of time to pick up and deliver those dialogues and do some dancing. This is how I stepped. I thought I was very bad.
Is writing for films different from OTT platforms?
Yes, it is different because the censorship is less compared to the theatrical format. We have more time to tell our stories, say eight episodes, while brevity is important when we write a film and we have to finish everything in two hours. There is more freedom to write on the OTT platform because we have different views. A family will not necessarily watch the series together so that we can explore deeper subjects, which would otherwise be censored. And of course, OTT requires a certain amount of bi-qualification. At the end of every episode, there should be a hook point so that you keep coming back for it and you can’t move from your couch.
A character you wrote that is closest to you?
I feel a lot of affinity for all my characters. They are all special. But I would still say Rumi’s character in Manmarziyaan, because it was my first independent voice that came out in a story. Rumi will always be very special and very close to my heart. A lot is reflected in Rummy.
Kanika Dhillon explains the joys and pains of being a writer
How not to swear over money, children, sex and paper envelope
How not to swear over money, children, sex and paper envelopes
We’ve had a lot of books about relationships, but none has ever made you laugh like that.
Belinda Luscombe has been writing about relationships for Time magazine for 20 years. And she actively practiced them: her marriage is almost 30 years old. So she discovered six areas that cause the most problems – everyone: intimacy, quarrels, finances, family, sex, mutual assistance.
In the book “Happiness Together” – instructions for technical inspection of relationships. Is everything going as it should or is it time to “change the oil”? There are many situations from family life in which you will probably recognize yourself, and tips to fix anything that is junk. With a fair amount of humor.
Do we have envelopes?
“My husband Jeremy does it with envelopes,” Belinda says. – Every time he asks if we have envelopes, although I have already shown him a thousand times where they are. On the shelf. Next to the handles. So what? My husband, going to send a letter, each time asks: “Do we have envelopes?”
Why can some trifle, insignificant imperfection in a loved one drive you to a frenzy? Because a wedding is not a happy ending at all. Married life is like clearing a path of snow: you start out full of enthusiasm, but it turns out that the activity requires much more endurance.
Of course, people get tired of relationships. This is as natural as the fact that food goes bad and the fire goes out. But we have learned to preserve food and keep the fire going. So you can come to an agreement with nature.
We are Incorporated
Imagine your marriage is a business partnership, “We Are Incorporated.” You manage finances together. Manage children together. Both of you are managers of your property – apartments, villas, cars. You combine the duties of a chef, taxi driver, travel agent and teacher.
Use proximity as a weapon, not a weapon. Cultivate a team spirit – it helps you achieve results in tedious and tedious tasks. Discuss resentments and grievances. This means that you spend time with a person not because it is pleasant, but because you create something together – a marriage, a family, a couple.
This is called “relational thinking,” and it is the key to a long and happier marriage.
Children are a laborious project, like putting together a three-dimensional puzzle, which also snaps and throws dirty clothes all over the apartment. One mother once said that upbringing is as much teamwork as robbing a bank: “One is robbing, the other is driving a car that will be used to get away.”
But remember, you are not together because of the children. Sometimes go on vacation without them. And remind yourself that it’s a good idea to nominate your partner sometimes.
Belinda Luscombe: “When my husband was looking after my son, the son fell out of the bed. When I was looking after my son, the baby fell out of the stroller. And which of us is the worst parent? ” – Source
If you think your partner is a lousy parent, try to moderate the criticism. After all, your skills are hardly perfect. This is the great meaning of having two parents: they bridge each other’s shortcomings.
Have a fight? Eat something
Belinda once asked Mark Zuckerberg what changed when Sheryl Sandberg, the first woman on the board, came to Facebook. Mark said: after her arrival, they forgot what hunger is. She made sure that there was always food on the tables during meetings.
Here’s a lesson from one of the richest women in the world: Never start an important conversation on an empty stomach.
If the relationship is broken
“Repairing” a marriage is exhausting. Sometimes it seems that getting a divorce is easier, as it is easier to buy new headphones than to untangle the wires from those that are. But think about this.
Scientists found 645 unhappy couples, and after 5 years they interviewed them. It turned out that those who got divorced did not feel happier than those who kept their marriage. And the couples who stayed together were glad they hadn’t parted.
Our thinking is aimed at solving problems, although in reality we need a different kind of thinking, “carousel”: now your horse is down, but wait a little – and it will rise again.
The book “Happiness Together” will surely appeal to those who appreciate humor. Belinda will make you laugh more than once and look at relationships from a different – more funny – angle. Family life can be boring, it can be difficult, but add a healthy dose of self-irony and it turns out that everything is not so bad.
Despite the humor, the conversation will go on the most serious topics, and you will find a lot of practical advice.
- Life lessons from the cat litter box
- “Financial violence against a partner”: how not to swear over money
- After hardship comes real hardship: parenting
- What the marriage ninja do
- Marriage without sex: the intimate side of union
- What to do if cheating occurs
We don’t find soul mates like beautiful seashells on the beach. We become soul mates. One of us is waves, the other is sand, and together we form a wonderful beach. Marriage means that you have tied your destiny with someone and said to this person: “It looks like the journey with you will be exciting.” So make it that way.
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How not to swear over money, children, sex and paper envelopes
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