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'Mr Bachchan has approved one of my new screenplays'

Published on : April 27, 2012
\'Mr Bachchan has approved one of my new screenplays\'

Friday, 27 April 2012 23:57 PIONEER


A  Fine Arts graduate from the College of Arts, Juhi Chaturvedi ran into a spot of bad luck when her first film, Shoebite, by Shoojit Sircar, starring Amitabh Bachchan got canned, over copyright issues. What should have been a great break for a dialogue writer, wowed recently by the likes of Salim Khan for the quality of screenplay of her new film Vicky Donor, became a pain in the neck.


But both Shoojit and her rallied to create the film on sperm donation that proved an unlikely summer sleeper hit. It must have helped that John Abraham guarded it with his name. He is the producer. The trio are collaborating on three more films, Jaffna, Hamara Bajaj, and one that, “Mr Bachchan has approved of, and will act in,” said Chaturvedi who works at the ad firm, Bates Asia.


Talking about the misadventure over Shoebite, she said, “Rensil de Silva wrote the script. I did the dialogue. I believe the problem was between UTV’s Ronnie Screwvala and Fox who were backing Manoj Night Shyamalan’s film, on which the story was based.”


When she got the idea for Vicky Donor, she thought Shoojit, who had directed her ad films, would find it “too cheapo.” He laughed and said he would call her back. And he did. Rest is history. Chaturvedi told us, “I think it was a desperate attempt to do something different. Probably because in advertising, you are constantly encouraged to ‘think big, think of a big idea’.”


She, “went through various drafts, and also had meetings with Dr Malpani, who runs a fertility clinic with his wife in Mumbai.” He also set up what she think is India’s first ever cryo-bank.


Chaturvedi commented, “I realised the topic was taboo but important, due to sperm counts going down by fifteen per cent, owing to factors like stress.”


As for the Lajpat Nagar setting, she told us, “I stayed there when I was a student (she belongs to Lucknow). I approached the characters as people whose appearance in the film made sense.


So there’s someone like Dolly, Vicky Donor’s mum, a widow, who runs a parlour and will take no nonsense from her wayward son. And Dr Chaddha, almost like the film’s hero, with his clinic.


“There are others like Shweta, the Punjabi neighbour who is typical, and I don’t mean to stereotype.”


From Malpani she learnt terms like “motility” that are used in the dialogue. Adding, “We were told that most of the people who donate sperm in this country do it for money. They are usually from low income groups. Or they are students. Occasionally someone will do charity. And there have been cases of some very rich guy in a Merc donating sperm. But such events are few.”


More women are donating eggs, but the topic is taboo. It was tough getting donors to talk. Those who did, unwillingly, said they, “did it for the experience.”


She surmised, “Maybe its because some people have evolved enough to feel empathy for childless couples. It’s a sensitive topic, so I avoided slapstick.”


Juhi said John Abraham was kicked when he read her second draft. “What made him sit up was the subject. But he didn’t interfere with the casting etc.” She felt, “if you are sitting on a strong subject, someone will pay attention. Look what happened to A Wednesday by Neeraj Pandey. Scriptwriters are undervalued. But I guess it depends on who you work with. As producer and director, John and Shoojit are secure in their field. They approve creative points of view. None of us is in the rat race.”


Juhi’s next project is “writing dialogue for Jaffna, a dark film about the conflict in Sri Lanka. John Abraham plays the lead. It will be shot mostly in India from September end.”


Then there’s Hamara Bajaj, “about a small town man and his ambitions.” The third film with Abraham-Sircar-Chaturvedi, is a script she doesn’t reveal, “that Amitabh Bachchan has agreed to appear in.”


She’s not giving up her advertising job for films. She wrote Vicky Donor at night, and ends with advice from Salim Khan who told her, “doesn’t matter how long it takes, don’t give into pressure.” He should know, because, Chaturvedi said, “The film where he bucked under pressure, flopped terribly.” We think she was referring to Immaan Dharam. Of course you haven’t heard about it! click here

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