MUMBAI: By now, one will really know Milap Zaveri’s strength as a comic writer. But the writer has also dabbled in direction. In the second part of the exclusive interview with Business Of Cinema, Milap Zaveri talks about the road ahead of ‘Grand Masti’ and about his mentors Sujoy Ghosh and Sanjay Gupta and how a writer turned director option didn’t quite go his way.
BOC: As a commercial writer, do you pay attention to the three-act structure, and emphasize on the Beginning-Middle-End Structure?
Milap: In Hollywood, films don’t have an interval. But in India, we do. So sub-consciously, when you write a script, you keep the interval in mind. You have to start with a bang so that people get excited, you have to set an interval with an even bigger bang because that’s what is going to get them back to the theatres after the break.
And obviously the finale has to be good. However good the first-half is, or first act, second act is, if the third act doesn’t work the impact of the entire film gets diluted. Very often people come out and say ‘woh last 15-20 minute mazaa nahi aaya.’
I faced a similar problem in ‘Masti’. The film was a non-stop sex comedy. The last twenty minutes we went into emotions, a sad song
BOC: Has that flaw been overcome in ‘Grand Masti’?
Milap: (smiles) Yes. In ‘Grand Masti’, I think there must be four minutes of emotion in the whole film!
BOC: Do you think as a writer you have got your dues in the industry? Writers have been voicing their frustrations more recently.
Milap: I feel, today, writers are still better off than when I started out. When I started out, there was no social media, multiplexes weren’t as many, and the media wasn’t so strong. Today I feel, writers have been getting noticed. I have been lucky to get accolades for my dialogues in ‘Shootout At Wadala’. And that doesn’t happen very often.
I think it last happened for Rajat Aroraa for ‘The Dirty Picture’, ‘Once Upon A Time In Mumbai’. So Rajat, I think, is one of the people in the last five-six years who has done so well that he has actually made people talk about writers. If you’re successful, you give hits, people will appreciate you, talk about you. If you don’t, then the writer is often neglected.
BOC: You directed your first film – ‘Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai’ with Riteish and Jacqueline. So why you didn’t continue with direction?
Milap: (grins) Unfortunately ‘Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai’ was a failure. It didn’t get any support from the producers, the way it was marketed. Today, how much ever you make a film, you have to spend a certain amount of money in publicity. The film set me back very badly for a long time. I went into a shell, didn’t even write much for a couple of years. I kept trying to make a film again.
Sanjay Gupta once told me, “chalti gaadi ka bonnet nahi kholna chahiye.” I feel I did that with ‘Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai’. I was doing great as a writer and had just given a hit in ‘Heyy Babyy’.
Besides, I made a sci-fi love story with Riteish when Riteish is known for comedy and hence, it backfired. Also, ‘Aladdin’ didn’t do quite well, so even the pairing of Riteish and Jacqueline failed. It was a setback.
Now if I ever direct again, I will make sure that the film opens on a Friday with stars that will get people to theatres.
BOC: Do you write with a star in mind? Like in ‘Shootout..’ you wrote with John Abraham in mind?
Milap: If the film already has a star cast ready you will always write to the cast. With ‘Shootout..’, I always knew John was in the film with Anil Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee. So I already knew the cast and that helped a lot because I knew I can write to their strengths.
With John (he had never done a dialoguebaazi role before), it was a challenge to write dialogue for him. With Anil and Manoj, I knew whatever I write; they will deliver it with great panache.
Like for ‘Grand Masti’ too, I knew the cast is the same and I know their strengths. So I accordingly wrote the lines looking into what Riteish will be great at saying, what Aftab will be comfortable at. Riteish may be isn’t comfortable at times with a line which is too vulgar so that I gave to Aftab.
And in scripts where you don’t have a cast, it’s like a wishlist. You think a certain actor will hopefully play a part. So you write it according to that person and then if some drastic casting changes take place then you adapt.
BOC: ‘Unglee’ is immediately next on the pipeline. Tell us something about the experience.
Milap: (smiles) ‘Unglee’ will be my first ‘non adults’ film this year after ‘Shootout At Wadala’ and ‘Grand Masti’. It has a great crew: Rensil (‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘Kurbaan’), Karan Johar. It’s been a challenge for me because it’s a film with a certain social message but told in a very entertaining manner. It’s got the spirit that ‘Rang De Basanti’ had but it is more massy because of Emraan and Sanjay Dutt. So it has all the punchlines, dialoguebaazi.
BOC: You tweeted that ‘Grand Masti’ is your last film as a screenplay writer. So is this a conscious decision to focus on dialogue writing or plans of penning a new film?
Milap: It was a conscious effort. I always find screenplay writing more difficult and challenging and less rewarding the way a dialogue is appreciated. So I took a conscious effort to do more dialogues this year. My next few projects, ‘24’ with Anil Kapoor, ‘Unglee’ with Rensil D’Silva, ‘Villain’ by Mohit Suri for Balaji, ‘Main Tera Hero’ with David Dhawan again for Balaji, I have penned the dialogues. If something excites me screenplay-wise in the future, I may write a screenplay again and it’s the same for direction.
“Baadshah ki gali main aake uska pata nahi puchte, ghulamon ke jhuke hue sir khud ba khud raasta bata dete hain!”
– Manoj Bajpayee, Shootout At Wadala
“ Police ki goli main itna loha hai ki ek baar thok di ki zindagi bhar tere khoon mein iron ki kami nahi hogi!”
– Anil Kapoor, Shooutout At Wadala
“Tujhe itna marunga ki dard ko samajh nahi aayega kaun se zakhm se bahar niklu”
– John Abraham, Shootout At Wadala
“Ek star kam mile lekin ek crore zyada mile, mujhe ek crore chalega!”
– Milap Zaveri on Box Office
“The page is empty, the pen is full. I am yet to write a lot of things including my own destiny!”
– Milan Milap Zaveri