Saturday, 12 May 2018

Salaam, Salim Saab!


A writer is the backbone of a movie. If a filmmaker does not have a script, he/she can’t make a movie. And yet, screenwriters continue to be undervalued by the Bollywood film industry.  Writers need to be celebrated and valued as much as directors and actors. 

I approached one of my dear friends JAIDEEP SEN to help me in my aim to showcase the work of legendary scriptwriters in the Bollywood film industry. Jaideep (or Raja as he is known in the industry) has spent years working with veteran filmmakers like Rakesh Roshan and Sajid Nadiadwala. He has scoured hundreds of scripts as Creative Director at Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, one of the top production houses in India. He is also a writer-director in his own right.  

Raja responded with an enthusiastic ‘Yes’ to my request and said he would be happy to contribute articles showcasing the little known aspects of screenwriters. What’s more, he would love to put the spotlight on one of the most iconic of writers in the Hindi film industry, SALIM KHAN, who needs no introduction to movie goers in India. He along with his writing partner Javed Akhtar have penned some of the most legendary Bollywood films.  

In Raja’s own words:  “My world is illuminated when the lights go off in a cinema auditorium and the film begins. I’m a filmmaker who worships at the altar of the God of Storytelling, Salim Khan Saab.”
So, what better way to begin a new section on Bollywood writing than to pay tribute to a Master Storyteller in the words of one of his most ardent devotees! 

Welcome to Salaam, Salim Saab!, a new series on this blog by Jaideep Sen. If you are a writer, I hope you are all inspired. If you are a viewer and lover of films, it will help you gain insights into the World of Writers, the challenges they face and the movies they write. I hope you enjoy this series and please don’t forget to share your thoughts and feedback!
And now, over to Jaideep Sen!
                          

MERA NAAM SALIM KHAN

Salim-Javed – 15 years of collaborative brilliance that sparked 21 ingenious films and then an “unfortunate” parting that broke the Zanjeer of unison.

During the days of their unmatchable glory, the telephone at Salim Saab’s residence would hardly stop ringing. Every evening at a specific time, he would keep the receiver off the hook for his “me time”. 

However, once the duo had split up, the show went on for one half of the duo but for Salim Khan, it was a different story.  The phone stopped ringing; so much so that he would check whether the line was working. The dial tone was still live but his professional connections with the film industry had died. 

And then, after a span of almost four years, the Resurrection happened. Rajendra Kumar, iconic filmstar turned producer, came to meet Salim Saab with the young and fiercely talented film director Mahesh Bhatt. They were collaborating on a film and had not been able to crack the closure of the story.  

The idea of the proposed film was in the same universe of perhaps Salim-Javed’s best script ever written, Deewaar (though my personal favourite is Sholay). Only this time around it was a story of two half-brothers.

As soon as Salim Saab heard the plot, he had a solution for the story problem that had been bothering Rajendraji and Bhatt Saab. They gracefully accepted the idea and from then on, Salim Saab nurtured it and brought the story to life as his first work as a solo writer.  

The film—Naam—was an acid test for Salim Saab since he could sense naysayers with drawn claws ready to tear his baby apart. But he knew this was that one script that he had been waiting for to reintroduce introduce himself as a “Solo” Writer at the age of 51.

It was a momentous moment when during the recording of the background score of the film, at Mehboob Studios, Salim Saab saw his name on the credit rolls as a solo writer for the first time. The blur on the screen was not due to some technical glitch but the moisture in his eyes. He wiped his eyes and  quietly left the studio. For, deep in his heart, the “Braveheart”—the nomenclature given by Bhatt Saab—knew he had completed his journey from Rejection to Redemption! 

Salim Saab in an interview had once mentioned how the Film Gandhi had changed him and made him into a better human being. That’s the impact that Naam has had on me: its core values of selfless love and motherhood was taken to a much higher level. 

In a sense it was even stronger than that of Deewaar and Mother India because here for the first time the selflessness of the Mother—performed so beautifully by Nutanji—was not that of a birth mother but a mother who chooses to do the right thing by her boys, one of whom is not her biological son.  

Naam  has stood the test of time, going far beyond the all-important ‘commercial’ and ‘critical’ success. Even as I was writing this piece, a writer friend, Shaan Yadav, messaged me to say that after seeing my Whatsapp status—which was about Naam—he was tempted to revisit the film and experience it all over again. And in his words: “What a beautiful film it is!” 

That’s the contribution of a Legend to writing and society, whose humble calling card is: Mera “Naam” Salim Khan.




Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Finding Readers and Reviewers

Have you ever met an author who doesn't want her book read? Neither have I.

When readers leave a review for the book that they have read -- be it on Amazon, Goodreads, or their own blogs -- they spread the word about it. As Tim O'Reilly famously says, "Obscurity is a greater threat to authors than piracy."

Sites like NetGalley offer a great opportunity for authors to find readers and conversely, for readers to discover new authors and books. While publishers/authors have to pay a subscription fee to NetGalley, readers and bloggers can read books for free in exchange for putting up a review. It also takes away the problematic issue of vetting every review request. I seriously wish there was such a site for Indian books.

Here are some ways to engage with readers and reviewers. 

Goodreads - Putting up a book on Goodreads and getting marked as "want to read" spreads the word about the book. Those who have physical copies of their books to offer also run giveaways on the site.

Blogger Community - There is a large blogger community who read/review books on their blogs. Sites like Indiblogger offer an opportunity to network with this community.

Social Media - Every author has a web presence, be it a business page on Facebook, Twitter account, Instagram, etc. A sustained campaign ahead of the book release will result in higher visibility for your book. And organising a giveaway through your blog/website or sites like Rafflecopter can generate interest for your book.

Newsletters - Sending out a newsletter is one of the best methods to grow your audience. The risk is that your newsletter may end up in the spam folder.

Sharing other authors' work -  Teamwork can get your book greater mileage. Joining hands with other writers and sharing each other's books on your timeline will enable you to access a larger viewership for your book.

A word of caution. Sending out PDF files of your book randomly to reviewers is not a great idea as it's an easy way to get your book pirated. Instead, consider sending out Amazon gift cards to interested reviewers who can then purchase your book and review it. Or else send out .mobi copies.

While every method has its pros and cons, there is no doubt that getting your book reviewed is the only way to find more readers.

Do share your methods of getting your book read and reviewed.







Saturday, 21 April 2018

Scene Building Tips for the Busy Writer

Pic Courtesy:
Writing is a bit like a long distance race. First and foremost, you have to be passionate about it--ask a runner why she runs and you'll know that it's all about passion. But is passion enough to make you a good professional athlete or a writer?

For a writer, passion is a great starting point but it's not enough. You need to train, prepare, hone your craft, practise, practise, practise.

But where is the time to do all that, you may ask. The large majority of writers struggle with day jobs, caring for children, pets and parents and multiple other activities. And, there are only so many hours in a day. Passion will get you to a point where you find the time to write. But passion alone is not enough. You need to learn your craft. That would mean reading about the  art and craft of writing as well as reading books--both within and outside--the genre in which you are writing.

Reading is important because that will define and develop your tastes in writing.

Skipping these essential elements will only make you struggle harder and longer at writing your own magnum opus. I often hear newbie writers gripe that they end up spending their precious writing time staring at a blank computer screen and wondering what exactly should go into the scene. After all, they have carved out one hour from a hectic 16-18 hours of their waking time to devote to their passion and they have no time to waste! Sure, they have an overall plot idea and a basic outline, but are clueless about getting the ball rolling on a particular scene. 

Crafting a Story one Scene at a Time

Scenes are the building blocks of your story. Each scene builds on the last to craft a complete story. Through scenes you create compelling characters, convey their emotions, build conflict into your story and engage your readers. Normally there would be scenes to establish setting, deliver important information (exposition), transition scenes that get the characters/story from one place to another (either in terms of location or time).

So, before you sit down to write a scene here are some tips to reduce your staring-at-a-blank-page time.

1. Spend some time to read the previous scenes that you have written and figure out what happens next in your story. You probably already have an outline worked out. Or even some rough notes on what needs to happen in the story. It is always advisable to have a rough outline about your story.

2. Jot down some points of the things that you would like to happen in the next few scenes. It always works to have an end goal in mind. For instance, if you are starting out with a party scene where the Hero and Heroine meet each other, make notes about what is likely to take place in the scene and the next few scenes. Perhaps they decide to go on a date or the party ends on a note of conflict with the Hero being manhandled by the Heroine's friend.

3. It always helps to have a mood tracker for your scenes. For example, if you start on a positive emotion for one of your characters in the scene at the end of the scene or a couple of scenes, the mood could be a negative one. So, to quote the party example, the scene begins on a positive note with the Hero and Heroine's cute-meet but ends with conflict and tension. This postive-to-negative (or vice-versa) balance ensures that there is enough and more happening in your scene.

4. If you are still stuck, pick up one scene that you know has to be there in your book. Don't worry about its placement, for now. And don't be afraid to write in non-linear fashion. This helps you get started. The good part of this method, is that you can always tweak the scene later to fit in with the scenes that precede or follow.

5. Scenes are often designed to convey information (also known as exposition) to the reader about the character's traits and/or plot elements. But often it can lead to 'information dump'. To avoid that make sure your scene does double duty. For instance, in a romance novel, conflict and banter are often pegged with something that is going on with the plot. That helps keep readers engaged and yet provides them with the necessary exposition.

 6. As you write, you might find yourself deviating from your outline. So it helps to keep the outline updated. It keeps you on track and ensures that your story does not go down a completely different track! Or if the new track seems like a more compelling storyline, it helps to have an updated outline as a quick and easy reference.

7. Finally, here's a little cheat sheet... A resource that provides  16 different kinds of scenes that could be there in your story. If you're well and truly stuck, reach out for this list and am sure you will be able to find one (or a combination) of these types of scenes that fit your story!

Hope you find these tips useful. And do share your methods to kickstart your scene writing when you're staring at a blank page.

Happy Writing!











Sunday, 1 April 2018

#Ebook Promotion offer for Destiny's Girl

Time flies, doesn't it? Summer is already upon us and the temperatures are set to soar. It was only in February this year that I launched my book Destiny's Girl on Amazon. The response from readers has been overwhelming. Amazon Kindle Unlimited readership has soared to 95,000 (page reads) in this short period and I can't thank my readers enough. 
So here's a "hot" offer for those who haven't read the book yet. For a limited period, the ebook will be available for a discounted price of $0.77 on Amazon.com and INR 50 on Amazon.IN. But hurry, offer ends soon!
Still undecided? Check out what new readers have to say about the book. 
***** Maya desires revenge. Krish desires freedom from an overbearing business magnate of a father. Love is not the first among their list of priorities. But destiny brings them together. Adite's writing had a mellifluous flow where you can neither keep the book down, nor are you starved of the smallest detail that adds color to the story. Must read if you are love romance stories with strong characters. - Amazon Reviewer.
***** I have read all the books by Adite and I found this story the best one. It has all the ingredients to keep one turning the pages. And I just love the cover. A recommended read for all romance lover. -- Amazon Reviewer.

**** I came across the book on a writer's group on Facebook. It has been a while since I read a mills and boon-style book, but this was definitely worth the time and the money spent! It was the cover that caught my attention because as far as I have seen, most M&B stories focus on the male and the female. The author's decision to use this as her cover has paid off. For starters, I could not put it down from beginning to end. Both the lead characters Maya and Krish were developed with an incredible skill throughout the book. The sizzling tension and sexual chemistry between the two was quite captivating.-- Goodreads Reviewer.
So, hurry and grab Destiny's Girl at an unbeatable price: 
Hope you enjoy the read. If you do, please, please, please leave a review. Have a great summer ahead! 


Monday, 19 March 2018

Contemporary Romance in Indian Fiction

Recently I was invited by SheThePeopleTV to participate in a panel discussion on Contemporary Romance along with other authors at the Women Writers Fest. It was an interesting session and threw up some fascinating insights into how authors (and editors) approach the topic of romantic love in fiction writing.

Are darker themes replacing feel good romance? This was one of the issues that was debated.


Real life love stories often have a gritty edge to them. We read about women being stalked, being killed by jealous lovers. In the age of instant gratification and Tinder-dating, where does that leave romance and more importantly fictional romance? Is lust more relevant than love to readers?

The concept of romance has always been shaped by mainstream commercial movies and the classics. Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate love story and it ended in tragedy! But can it be classified as romance?  Love and romance, though often used interchangeably, they are actually not one and the same thing. Romance is what happens when a couple is sexually attracted to each other; it's the dating game, the push and pull of emotions, the surge of oxytocin. In 2012, researchers actually found high levels of oxytocin (often called the love hormone) in people who were in the first stages of romantic involvement.

Dating however is not an end in itself. Biologically, we are hard wired to find the perfect mate. Someone with whom we have that special bonding and without whom our lives would not be 'complete'. Call it what you will...but to me it sounds like Love. The subtext of it all is to find a Happily Ever After (HEA). And for that reason alone, HEA will never go out of fashion in contemporary fiction!

What are your thoughts on the issue? Please do share....





Sunday, 4 March 2018

Holi Book Launch - Sharvari by Ashvini

Hope you all had a fantastic Holi. May your life be painted with all the colors of Holi in the days and months to come.

On this festive occasion, here is a sneak peek into a romance novella written by Ashvini. Set in ancient India, Sharvari is the first standalone novella in the Royal Romance Collection. If you love intriguing and steamy romances with a guaranteed HEA, do grab your copy from Amazon

Sharvari (Book 1 of Royal Romance Collection)


Betrayed in love and war, Sharvari makes one final attempt to save her people by offering herself to the victorious rival King of Sindh, Brihadrath. The handsome king gives her hope of a new start. But life at her new home is ridden with challenges. While she is coping with a slew of palace intrigues and assassination attempts, the man from her past haunts her. Can Sharvari overcome the hurdles and find love again?

Excerpt






“Move!” The goad hit her shoulder. She heard another soldier forbid the first one from hitting her again. It did not matter. She had grown numb to the pain. The second soldier caught hold of her bound hands and yanked her back to her feet. Many pairs of eyes stared upon her dusky hued limbs, a feast to eyes, for the wolf skin tunic that had made for the most of her clothing had been cast off long before. Save for the ragged jute that covered her breasts and her loins, her youth was on a display.


Modesty was the last of things on her mind as her legs gathered whatever strength they could to walk in to the court. Her lips quivered at an odd lewd word she heard while walking ahead, the ropes still pulling at her hands. But her eyes stayed fixed on the ground, on the marble flooring of the court hall, on the art that adorned the floor, on the flowery carpet that covered the stairs to the throne seat and on to the feet that wore the intricately carved sandals.

The Victorious King! Her gaze froze there. A cheer erupted in his name. “Long live King Brihadrath!”


Sharvari felt her limbs go numb. With an effort, she lifted her gaze to sight the blue silken Dhoti held in place by an ornate golden waist band. She then saw the garland of flowers around his neck, a whiff of their fragrance swept till where she stood. Strings of precious gems shone against the sunlight. King Brihadrath knew to groom himself! Or at least he knew what it took to impress a woman at the first sight.

Is what I heard about him correct? She prayed it was. As disgusting as the idea was, that was the only way she could save them all.

Her eyes met his. Sharvari saw them widen for a second before his lips parted as he signalled to the general to come closer.

“Were women captured and dragged along?”

The forbidding frown that momentarily passed on his forehead locked her gaze upon his face. Sharvari thought fast. She was ready for this. At least she thought she was.

Found the excerpt interesting? Download the book here: Buy Link: hyperurl.co/m0d8cl




About the author

Ashvini is a management professional turned storyteller. She loves to dream history and waves romantic fantasies set in ancient India. She lives in Bangalore with her husband and daughter.