Date:07/09/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/fr/2007/09/07/stories/2007090750190400.htm
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In the company of ideas

After scooping his way to glory with “Chak De India”, Jaideep Sahani speaks on life as a scriptwriter and more. Anuj Kumar

Photo: Anu Pushkarna

Hitting a goal Jaideep Sahani accepts only those subject to which he can relate

He is the man behind the girls. Yes, we are talking about Jaideep Sahani who scripted the daring “Chak De India”. In an industry strewn with copycats, Jaideep brought in a whiff of originality with scripts such as “Jungle”, &# 8220;Company”, “Bunty Aur Babli” and “Khosla Ka Ghosla” and now with “Chak De India” he has turned the Bollywood formula on its head.

An engineer by training, Jaideep says it was a visit to Teksons book shop that made him explore scriptwriting as a vocation. “One day I saw the script of ‘Gandhi’ in the shop and found it fascinating. It was like a flowchart, which, results in a 70mm film. And later it developed into a kind of opportunity to project different parts of you, which you can’t express in real life, on the big screen!”

Reference point

Jaideep’s characters evolve from his personal reference points. “I accept only those subjects to which I can relate. For instance, I had worked for quite a few years in the advertising industry as a consultant. I knew how all the scheming happens, so with the underworld as the background I put my experiences of the corporate world into it. That’s how ‘Company’ happened. Similarly, the first half of ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ was taken from my personal experience in Delhi, where my cousin lost a plot to a property dealer. The second half was my fantasy, as to how the problem could have been solved.”

As for “Chak De…”, Jaideep says while he was resting after “Company” he saw a small newspaper story where the women’s hockey team had won an international tournament. “I felt why has the girls’ team been given so little coverage. I shared the idea with Aditya (Chopra). He liked it and said stop everything else and concentrate on it. I started my research by spending time with hockey players.” Jaideep denies he has based Shah Rukh Khan’s character Kabir Khan on former hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi. “It’s just a matter of chance that Negi’s story matches with Kabir Khan. There are many cases, like in Columbia, football players are killed for not performing well for the club. I had no idea about Negi’s story while writing the script, and he joined us after the script was ready. In fact, his name was suggested by M.K. Kaushik, who was the coach of the team that won the Commonwealth Games’ gold. On day one, when Negi read the script, he cried and it was then that we came to know about his story.”

On turning the conventional Bollywood formula on its head where a superstar is one of the coaches and the script is the engine, Jaideep says having Shah Rukh on board helped. “He is the only star apart from Bachchanji who has seen life from close quarters. So he knew what we were demanding from him from the first reading.” Jaideep says he makes sure to be present during the readings. “We writers are a little selfish. It is to ensure that the actor understands how I have chiselled the character. After that it is his call and how the director wants him to play it.”

Fresh ideas

They may be few and far between, but fresh ideas are finding their way to the box office. Analysing the trend, Jaideep says, “It is very much like the scene in other industries. The days of monopoly are over. Like MTNL is facing competition from private mobile companies, films are facing stiff competition from other sources of entertainment. Gone are the days when Bollywood had a monopoly over entertainment. My premise for writing ‘Bunty aur Babli’ was that youngsters in smaller towns are getting the same satellite channels that the youth of South Mumbai get to see. Then why are their aspirations and ambitions treated differently?”Jaideep is now busy with another Yash Raj film “Aaja Nachle”, Madhuri Dixit’s comeback film. Jaideep hints at the personal reference point. “You know I studied engineering in Bidar, a small town in Karnataka. The film is about what happens when a new thing comes to a small town.”

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