Tuesday, 13 November 2018

A Special Film - Behind the Scenes of 7 Lives

A couple of years ago filmmaker Runjiv Kapur told me about a heartbreaking incident in north India. A young girl had been shot and brought into a reputed hospital 'brain dead'. The girl's parents, as can be imagined, were overwhelmed and devastated. The hospital authorities were aware of the sensitive situation and yet they could not let go of the opportunity to help people who were desperately in need of organ transplants.

They approached the grief-stricken parents and requested them to consider donating her organs. That one decision could help give a new lease of life to seven people. The window of opportunity was short -- as the transplants needed to happen within a few hours of brain death.

The parents found it in their hearts to overcome their personal loss and willingly agreed to donate their child's organs. The processes were put in place. The hospital went ahead with the procedures but at the eleventh hour some community leaders came to know of this and raised objections on the grounds of religion and tradition.

This is the heartbreaking reality of India, ostensibly modern, and yet caught up with medieval values.  While researching the story, I talked to a heart surgeon who specializes in transplants and he sadly pointed out that organ donations, even in the big metros, is rare. 7 Lives, a short film based on this true story, is an effort to create awareness about the important subject of organ donation.

It's a very special film for me also for the fact that it is my first produced screenplay. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to bring this issue to light. The film is being screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival, 2018 today and has been honored with a Special Jury Award at the 7th Delhi Shorts International Film Festival, 2018.

Here's hoping that the film will touch more lives and bring about a change in mindsets.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

D is for Deus Ex Machina

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Welcome to Week D of the A to Z Writing Series. My post for the week is 'Deus Ex Machina'. 

Did you say, what the heck is that? So, here's a little definition. Deus ex Machina is a Latin term which actually means 'God from the Machine'. The term originated in Roman and Greek Drama where at a certain point in the climax of the story God would drop down from the sky (via a crane, and hence the reference to machine) to provide a resolution to the story. 

In modern story telling using the Deus Ex Machina - or divine intervention - is considered to be poor writing. While it may be argued that in life, coincidences and random events do happen, when you're telling a story, use of such a device to resolve the protagonist's dilemma or crisis can often leave your reader dissatisfied.

Whether your story is a romance or a thriller, your protagonist is the one who drives the story with his/her choices. To keep the reader engaged and turning the pages, the writer needs to make life difficult for the Main Character.

Source: https://tvtropes.org
As the stakes are raised for the Character, the reader feels invested in the story and wants to know how things will turn out. So using a random/sudden event to resolve the crisis is not advisable as the reader will end up feeling cheated.

Notwithstanding such writing wisdom, one of the most popular movies of all time (Raiders of the Lost Ark) has used the 'Deus Ex Machina' to resolve the crisis that its lead character Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) faces at the end of the movie. Watch this short video by screenwriting guru Robert McKee who explains why despite using "divine intervention" the writers scored big with this movie.

Enjoy the clip and let me know if you can think of films/books where they used the Deus Ex Machina without completely destroying the plot.

Happy Writing!