Friday, 14 August 2020

#7Lives is now streaming on Amazon Prime US and UK


If I'm absolutely honest I'm often discouraged by just how difficult the screenwriting journey is. Staying positive over months and years, slogging away at scripts, pitching producers and agents and dealing with rejections can be exhausting. I have often been tempted to throw in the towel. What has stopped me from doing it? 

Well, the sheer compulsion of writing a story that's visual and visceral. 7 Lives was one such script. It is based on the true story of a young girl whose parents want to overcome the pain of losing their most precious daughter by remembering her in a way that would give meaning to her life and theirs. They wanted to donate her organs but alas their wish was never to be fulfilled. 

When Runjiv J Kapur, my filmmaker friend, approached me to write the script based on this story for a short film, I was excited but also a bit scared. Would I be able to do justice to the story? For me, 7 Lives will always be special. Not only because it was a subject that was compelling to me as a writer but also because 13 years after I started writing scripts, I finally earned my stripes -- an on-screen credit line. It's been a long wait but well worth it! The film is now streaming on Amazon Prime in the US and UK.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

From Book to Screen - Writer Gabriel Constans' Journey

The wise screen writer is he who wears his second-best suit, artistically speaking, and doesn’t take things too much to heart. He should have a touch of cynicism, but only a touch. The complete cynic is as useless to Hollywood as he is to himself. He should do the best he can without straining at it. He should be scrupulously honest about his work, but he should not expect scrupulous honesty in return. He won’t get it. And when he has had enough, he should say goodbye with a smile, because for all he knows he may want to go back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                               – Raymond Chandler


Screenwriting is a hard taskmaster. And a screenwriter is also a very patient person, one who slaves away at honing his craft, filling his drawers with many many works-in-progress until one of those hit the jackpot. 

Today, I'm very excited to interview my Twitter friend Gabriel Constans, who has been writing scripts for the last 12 years. His first produced script, a LGBT romantic comedy -- The Last Conception -- releases on multiple streaming channels this week. It's the perfect occasion to find out more about Gabriel's journey as a novelist and screenwriter...

Congratulations, Gabriel, on the release of your film. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey as a writer. 

Thank you. My journey as a writer started in high school, took a hiatus during my late twenties and started again in my thirties. It began as a journalist writing nonfiction stories for newspapers, journals, magazines and web sites. Luckily, every article I wrote (mostly profiles of people doing good things in the world), was published in some outlet in the world.

Then I began to write short stories and discovered how difficult that was to do - at least to write a good one. After a few years I was able to get a number of them accepted in various magazines and journals and eventually put together a collection for two books (one for children and the other for adults). The first is called “Solar Girl and Lunar Boy” and the one for adults is titled “Saint Catherine’s Baby”. That was followed with my foray into writing novels. These include “Loving Annalise”, “Buddha’s Wife” and “The Last Conception”.

While writing fiction I also put together a number of nonfiction books that are primarily about grief, loss, health, sexuality and autobiography. These include “Good Grief: Love, Loss & Healing”, “Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call”, “The Penis Dialogues: Handle With Care”, and two books with smoothie recipes.

About twelve years ago, I began writing screenplays, which as expected was much more difficult than I’d imagined. Since then I’ve had two of them produced (one based on my book The Last Conception), another in development with Kiss the Limit Productions (Buddha’s Wife), and five other scripts I’m trying to get optioned and/or produced.
How did the idea of The Last Conception come to you and what was it about this story that fascinated you?

The idea for the book, which the screenplay is adapted from, is in some ways a continuation of my novel Buddha’s Wife, which explored what life may have been like from Yasodhara’s perspective (Siddhartha’s wife before he became The Buddha). Historically, their son Rahula never married or had children and followed his father (and mother) by becoming a monk in their order. I wondered what would it be like if in fact he did have children and their lineage was kept secret to the present day. Traces of the story The DaVinci Code can be seen in this premise (without the violence). What if someone in today’s world was suddenly told that she was the last in line of The Buddha and had to have a baby to keep the bloodline alive? I included several other factors and twists in the story as well.

How did the book to screen adaptation happen? How easy/difficult was it to find the right producers for the project?

After The Last Conception was published as a book, by Melange Books (a great publisher and team), it took me several years to write the screenplay and then another two to find a producer willing to take it on. All together, about four years. As most writers know, especially screenwriters, getting a screenplay accepted, let alone seen or even looked at, is very difficult. It is similar to finding a traditional publisher or agent, in the amount of time and rejections involved. Once the script is optioned, it doesn’t mean it will get made and if it is produced there is no guarantee that it will be distributed and shown anywhere. The odds are “not” in your favor. One quality that has helped is that of persistence (in writing and querying).

What are you currently working on? 

My current efforts are completely centered around finding producers/financing for the other scripts I’ve already written. Once one of them, a coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in the south in a small town and trying to protect some endangered sea turtles, gets accepted somewhere, I’ll began writing another script based on a kindred author at Melange Books.

Good luck with your writing and we hope to see many more books and films penned by you!

About The Last Conception and where you can watch...

The Sikand family learns that their only hope of continuing their “ancient bloodline” is their skeptical gay daughter Savarna.

The film is available on the following channels:

Amazon Prime, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Fandango Now, Microsoft/Xbox, and Vudu, as well as cable and satellite dish networks InDemand, Rogers, Dish Network/Sling TV, DirectTV and Vubiquity.
To find out more about Gabriel Constans and his writing visit his website.

Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Doomed Characters

By Jaideep Sen

The minute I was reminded by my wife Anjali yesterday morning that today is GURU POORNIMA the thought to do an ode to my Ultimate Guru, Salim Khan Saab, popped in my head. I have been wanting to do this piece on the Doomed Characters, Vijay from Deewar perhaps Salim Saab-Javed Saab’s greatest script ever - I say perhaps because Sholay is my personal favorite even in terms of writing - and Vicky from Naam which is unarguably Salim Saab’s greatest script as a solo writer. Today, it found a fresh burst of oxygen.

Through the lockdown I have watched both Deewar and Naam a few times and that lurking sense of losing both Vijay and Vicky forever looms large on the films especially through the second half like a predator shark which is on the fringe waiting to attack. It is this feeling which makes both films emotionally so palpable.

Both the characters are scarred by life: Vijay by the extreme humiliation his father has gone through, the abject poverty his mother and brother have faced plus that embedded tattoo of “Mera baap chor hain” not only on his forearm but his soul too.

Sunjay Dutt as Vicky in Naam
Vicky on the other hand is a loose canon with an aim to work abroad and hustling to generate money to get there but is shaken to the core of his existence when he learns that the brother whom he has taken unintentionally for granted till now is his half-brother; his world turns topsy turvy and he becomes desperate to do something for his mother and brother.

Thus, set out two turbulent characters to achieve what they feel is rightfully theirs breaking the law of the land because for characters with such a tunnel vision what matters is the light of a comfortable life for their mother at the end of it & not the method of achieving that light. They become so propelled emotionally that they don’t mind taking on the law. Unfortunately, the Law is an emotionless adversary and when it catches up with them it’s perhaps a bit too late.

Amitabh Bachchan as Vijay in Deewar
Here the emotional masterstroke that Salim Saab-Javed Saab in Deewar & Salim Saab in Naam have brought is the sense of awakening that happens in both Vijay, so stoically played by Amit Ji, and Vicky played with heartrending vulnerability by Sanjay Dutt at a juncture in the films where the audience feels that they might just about achieve their redemption and make it out alive. But then the strong arm of the law delivers that one fatal blow and it’s all over.

The dialogue of the mother “Bhagwan kare goli chalate waqt tere haath nahin kaape” that overlaps as soon as Ravi fires the bullet on his brother Vijay in Deewar leaves the audience emotionally numb - so powerful was the moment in the film.

The fine print of this superlative writing is also to without being obvious send out a strong signal to the audience that come what may don’t cross the threshold of the law because premature death is waiting around the corner for a doomed character.

That’s why Salim Saab is the Guru because along with compelling powerful cinema, there’s also an emotional takeaway of the value system one needs to pick up from reel life and apply in real life.   

Jaideep Sen is a filmmaker and a connoisseur of the art of storytelling.

Read his earlier posts in this series here....

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Co-Authoring a Memoir #LifeUnstoppable

In what seems like another life I used to be a journalist. The 1990s were the heydays of economic journalism in India. New broadsheets were being launched and niche publications were coming up at a frenetic pace. The first among the "A&M" (advertising and marketing) supplements - Brand Equity -  was brought out by The Economic Times. I had recently transitioned from a general magazine to this new niche publication and was learning the ropes of the sector as I became part of a small team of writers/reporters/editors that was tasked with bringing out the weekly supplement.

One of the many people I interacted with from the A&M world was Mr. D.K. Bose. He was heading Thompson Social, a division of the top ad agency in the country, HTA. Mr. Bose's insights helped me learn more about the ins and outs of the industry. Sometimes during our conversations he would talk about his boyhood years and his early career. When he told me that during his stint at the Met Dept (before he went into advertising) he would commute by camel cart to work, I had reacted spontaneously: someday you must write about your experiences. 

Fast forward - 30 years. I had moved away from journalism and into fiction writing. However, among the handful of people I had continued to stay in touch with from my journalism days, thanks to social media, was Mr. Bose. One day he happened to mention that he had plans to write his biography. I was happy to hear that and told him so. A couple of years passed by and I casually inquired how his biography was coming along. He informed me, a bit dejectedly that it had come to a standstill. He asked if I would be interested in looking at it and giving him my feedback. I agreed and after reading it gave him my honest feedback.

His next question was: would I be interested in helping him out with it. And so, began a new writing experience for me as collaborator and co-author of a memoir. Over the last 8 months as I worked with him on the manuscript, I had the privilege of gaining a peek into Mr Bose's life that has been peppered with many challenges and successes and ups and downs. It's a true story of grit and determination, professional highs and personal lows and inspiring at many levels.

It was also a learning experience for me -- writing a profile of a person as a journalist is different from co-authoring a memoir and putting yourself in the shoes of the narrator. Mr. Bose who taught me a few things about the A&M world many years ago, once again turned out to be a mentor, this time in helping me figure out how to collaborate on a memoir writing project. So, thank you, Mr. Bose for the honour and the privilege.

Titled Life Unstoppable: Making Challenges Work for You the book is now available across all Amazon platforms.

Blurb:  Nothing in life is risk-free. For every risk that you take, you acquire knowledge that can be shaped and applied to any challenging situation. This is one of the most significant lessons that Dwipal Kumar Bose has learnt from an eventful life spanning 75 years. 

Growing up in a middle class Bengali family, comprising twelve siblings, Bose has seen adversity at close quarters. Joining the advertising industry as a Voucher Clerk in the then SH Benson and rising to the position of President Ogilvy Outreach; switching lanes from advertising to social communication as the head of the first Indian social communications agency Thompson Social, Bose has been there, done it. 

Bose’s story is an inspiring tale of grit and determination, rejection and success. In narrating his life’s journey, the social communication strategist and behaviour change mentor goes beyond the tried and tested route of offering ‘success strategies’ but shares his own learnings and reveals how challenges can be made to work for you.


Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Objection to Being Objectified! #MFRWhooks #Excerpt #Novella


Single mom and bridal makeup artiste Shikha Verma is finally in a good place – both professionally and on the personal front. A chance encounter with a charming musician, who is much younger than her, has her throwing caution to the winds and breaking vows she’s made to herself. Walking away is the right thing to do. After all, she can't risk another heartbreak when she has only just recovered from one.

Yash Kulsreshtha has never been more attracted to a woman and the lady is definitely into him. Why then is Shikha hell bent on pushing him away? Surely, their age difference is not such a big deal! But before he can convince her she storms out of his life. Are Yash and Shikha destined to stay apart or will life hand them a chance at happily ever after?

This novella is a feel-good, emotional romance and the first book of the Soulmates Series.


As soon as she stepped out, she heard the strains of the guitar. He had pulled on a white shirt and jeans; his hair was tousled and his eyes closed as he sang about the hopelessness of unrequited love. She didn't have the heart to stop him but knew the longer she stayed the more difficult it would be to draw herself out of this strange push-pull attraction she felt for this stranger.

His gaze shifted to her. The mischievous glint was back in his eyes. He switched songs and mood mid-way and teased her with a line from a popular Bollywood number, "Kehdo na, kehdo na, you're my Sonia."

She glared at him and said sternly, "Your voice is suited more for those soulful numbers."

"You think so?"

She gave him a half smile and turned to leave, only to find her wrist being grabbed. "Uh-huh. Not so fast. You haven't given me your phone number yet."

"Why would I do that?"

"Didn't you say you don't believe in one-night stands?"


"That means you have to go out on a date with me. Otherwise what happened between us will forever be etched in stone as a one-night stand."

She wanted to slap his smug handsome face. "Will you stop being so juvenile!"

"Oh, just because you're a couple of years older than me?"

"A couple? I'm a good eight years older..."

"Ah! That must be why we were so hot together. Older women are way too sexy."

"Shut up!" There was a wobble in her voice and he instantly caught it.

"Am I embarrassing you?"

"No. You're just being a massive pain in the butt. Now, get out of my way."

"Think about it though...what's the big deal about age in man-woman relationships?"

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. "Yash...are you in there? We need to talk, please."

He rolled his eyes dramatically and mouthed silently. "Please tell her to go away."

So the dice had finally rolled in her favour.

Another knock, this time more urgent than the last. "Yash, please open the door. I really, really need to talk to you."

She cocked her eyebrow at him and he folded his hands pleadingly.

She gave him a wicked smile and called out, "I think you have the wrong room."

For a moment there was silence as if the woman was thinking what she should say next. As the moments ticked by Yash kept waving his hands as if that would make her leave.

After what seemed like an interminable delay, the woman responded, "Oh ok. Sorry to have bothered you."

Yash blew a relieved breath out.

As the click-clack of high heels receded down the corridor, Shikha smartly sidestepped him, twiddled her fingers at him and set off. "Cheerio."

"Hey....I object to being objectified," he called behind her.

She was already on her way out of the room but couldn't stop grinning at his remark. 

Wanna read more? Grab a copy here: 
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