Wednesday, 30 January 2019

The Memorable Women Behind the Angry Young Man


 By Jaideep Sen



Deewaar one of the two greatest Films ever made in Indian Cinema – the other being Sholay – celebrated its glorious forty-fourth birthday on 24 January, 2019. On the august occasion, I take a look at one of the female characters who provided the film with strength, style and substance. While many of you may think this is going to be an ode to Sumitra Devi, the mother of Vijay and Ravi who has gone into the hall of pride of Indian cinema, I would like to put the spotlight on Anita, performed with such flamboyance and great sensitivity by Parveen Babi-ji. Anita enters the film at a pivotal juncture in a high-end hotel bar and comes across as a upmarket escort who is instrumental in unintentionally saving Vijay’s life when he is attacked.  From here on Salim Saab and Javed Saab etched out a very understated, mature and progressive bond between Vijay and Anita. 

Parveen Babi as Anita in Deewaar
Consider this exchange between Vijay and Anita: When Vijay takes a dig at her and says, “tum jaisi ladkiyan toh kapdo ki tarah apna naam badalti hain”, she retorts sharply but with great dignity, “aaj pehli baar main kisi ko keh rahi hoon ki mere maa baap ne mera naam Anita rakha tha”. From there on, their relationship navigates to a level of mutual respect. Another classic moment in the relationship is Vijay’s discovery of a saree in Anita’s cupboard and her telling him its history. Later in the movie when she is killed, she is shown wearing the same saree. A subtle touch that not just gives gravity to Vijay and Anita’s relationship,  but reveals the writer duo’s amazing skill in giving respect to a woman and her unsung contributions in a man’s life.


I actually remember calling Salim Saab after watching Deewaar recently and mentioning that Anita is one of the most progressive characters in contemporary Indian cinema. In response Salim Saab remarked that Deewaar was their best written script. 


My personal favourite remains Sholay because I guess along with its powerful writing, I have been mesmerised by the magnitude of Sholay. This brings me to another stand-out character that the masters created in Radha, so poignantly and effectively performed by Jaya Bachchan-ji. Though widowed young due to Gabbar’s brutality the lady has a spine of steel, evident in the sequence in which she confronts Veeru and Jai when they are trying to rob and flee.  The clinical and piercing dressing down that she gives them, shakes up the two mercenaries, compelling them to reform. It takes great insights into the influence that a woman has on a man to write such gems and enhance the strength and standing of women in life and literature.


Raakhee Gulzar as Sudha in Kala Patthar
My post would be incomplete without a mention of Sudha, the selfless doctor played with such dignity by Rakhee Gulzar-ji in Kala Patthar. The sequence, in which she explains to a defeatist Vijay the circumstances in which her farmer father passed away in a remote village was the motivation for her to become a doctor and serve in the remotest of villages, is simply priceless. The amalgam of extraordinarily great writing and a heartfelt performance by Rakhee-ji would be a source of inspiration for any viewer. 


That’s the magic of Salim Saab – Javed Saab’s Writing. They write purely from the heart; each word has a purpose to enlighten and inspire and not simply entertain.  Once the actor has felt the vibe and performed it from the heart it leaves behind impeccable characters such as Anita, Radha and Sudha, who will forever add glory to the corridors of fame of Indian Cinema as the Most Memorable Women behind the Angry Young Man.


Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling.
Previous Episodes in the Series…






Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Inciting Incident - Giving your fiction a great start

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers
Welcome to Week I of Authors' Tips: A to Z of Writing.
If this is the first time you are visiting this series, here's a quick recap.

Authors share their tips on writing fiction - and each week we talk about various aspects of writing.

This week it's time to take a closer look at Inciting Incident


Every story has a beginning, middle and end. But what exactly is the beginning of a story? Do you start at the very beginning with the birth of a main character and move up to one particular point in your protagonist's life? Absolutely not. Doing that would be the easiest way to lose your reader (if you are writing a novel) or audience (if you are writing a movie)!

Beginning actually refers to the sequence of events  which is Relevant to your story. And the Inciting Incident plays a big role in acting as a trigger for your story (as well as the Main Character). Screenwriting guru Syd Field says, 'it sets the story in  motion' while Joseph Campbell calls it the 'call to adventure'.

Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash
No matter what the nomenclature, it's the precise moment or 'incident' that metaphorically ignites the Main Character's ordinary world, pushes him/her out of their regular day to day life. It is the spark that sets off a chain reaction -- one that will propel your Main Character to go off on a quest or seek a solution to the problem he/she has landed in.
It is a decisive moment and one that your character cannot ignore -- one that comes wrapped up with all kinds of potential dangers and/or consequences. Because if the problem simply goes away if it is ignored, there would be no story! So make sure your Inciting Incident is a moment that will trigger your Protagonist to react and push him/her out of his/her comfort zone.

The Inciting Incident allows you as a writer to showcase other elements of your story -- including the character traits of your protagonist. In my book Wedding Shenanigans,  my Heroine Rayna Dutt is going through emotional turmoil when the book opens. She has just been dumped by her boyfriend and she is wallowing in self-pity and nursing a deadly hangover.

The doorbell rings and her ride to the airport has arrived. She has all but forgotten about her best friend's wedding for which she is supposed to catch a flight to Andaman Islands. At this point, she can refuse to go. But that is not an option for her because her best friend is depending on her for her trousseau and also because she can't let down the person who has stood by her.  So, the inciting incident of the doorbell ringing literally and figuratively catapults her out of her bed and into the beginning of the story.

The second important aspect is that inciting incident also helps you clarify the tone of your book. If it's a romance it would be a different kind of incident as against a murder mystery, where it would most probably be the discovery of a dead body or the disappearance of someone important in the life of the protagonist. The inciting incident happens to the protagonist and it propels him/her to take actions that set your story rolling. Be sure to have this incident as early as possible to keep your audience hooked.

Do you have any examples to share of great inciting incidents that you have read in a book or seen in a movie? Please do post your thoughts in the comment box below.


  Don't forget out to check out some of the other posts in this series....

I is for Improving as a Writer by Sudesna Ghosh

In Medias Res Explained by Preethi Venugopala

H for Heroes by Devika Fernando

Adding a dash of humour to your writing by Reet Singh






Saturday, 5 January 2019

Author Ruchi Singh releases her new book "Guardian Angel"

Hello Everyone. I'm very happy to introduce you to author Ruchi Singh and her new romantic suspense book, Guardian Angel. Many of you have probably read The Bodyguard (and if you haven't, you absolutely must!) which featured a strong woman protagonist in the titular role. This time Ruchi brings to her readers yet another awesome protagonist. Want to find out more? 

Read on... 

Congrats on the release of your book. Coming close on the heels of The Bodyguard, is this a sequel or prequel? Can it be read as a standalone book?

RS: Thanks a lot, Adite, and thank you for hosting me on your blog.


‘Guardian Angel’ is a spin-off from ‘The Bodyguard’ and can be read as a standalone book. It features Nikhil Mahajan, who is an important character in ‘The Bodyguard’, as the main protagonist.


Could you tell us a bit about your book and what inspired you to write it?


RS: Readers loved Nikhil’s character in the previous book. I was getting quite a few direct messages from the readers and in the reviews that they would like to read Nikhil’s story, even if it is set prior to the ‘The Bodyguard’, as far as timeline is concerned. So, in a sense, the readers inspired me to write this story.

Bodyguard had a very feisty female protagonist in Esha. Could you tell us a bit about your protagonist of Guardian Angel and why readers will love her?

RS: The female protagonist in Guardian Angel is feisty too in her own way. She is courageous, gritty and intelligent. I am afraid I can’t reveal too much about her right now.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book and why?

RS: Rescuing Nikhil in an efficient way was the most difficult part. I wanted to make it as plausible and realistic as possible. I lost weeks of sleep over it. I had to re-write the entire episode three times to get it right.

Could you share an excerpt from your book please.

As I said, I try to make my characters as realistic and human as possible, so the following is my favourite piece…

In the bathroom, he stripped off his clothes and looked in the mirror for the first time since the day of the bomb blast in Mumbai. He couldn’t recognize the man staring back at him in the mirror. His hair, matted with dirt, was stuck to his skull. The only things which were clean were his wounds and the skin around it which had been taken care of by the hospital nurse.

He had a full-fledged beard with a patch of bandage where the skin on his face had burned. The scar would definitely leave a reminiscence of…? Of what? What should he call the events of the past weeks? An incident? An episode? A misfortune? He drew a blank. In retrospect, past few weeks seemed like something which could not be explained in words.

Pushing his confused thoughts aside he examined his leg. The burns were deeper on the shin and thigh, the doctor had told him. He looked gaunt, a shadow of his former self. He must have lost at least ten kg, if not more. Sighing audibly, he unwrapped the new toothbrush and remembered his own electrical one in his bathroom back home. 

Everything unfamiliar, and every person a stranger. A new name. A new identity. His ordeal was far from over. He picked up the new tube of the toothpaste and felt like a beggar.

Taking the support of the wall, head bent down, he stood under the shower with the water running down his face, and wept. The adrenaline rush of keeping himself alive receded as he emptied the fears, worries, and helplessness of the past month down the drain with the bathwater. The thought of being able to see his parents soon made him more emotional. He sniffed and sniveled, and resolved to take back control of his life. And most of all, he resolved to do something about those monsters back in the Tral forest.

Thanks Ruchi. The excerpt is absolutely riveting. I sure can't wait to read the book. 

All the best with Guardian Angel and hope to read many more books from you! 

Check out Ruchi's new book here!