On the incorrect hierarchy of a film credit

Of scriptwriters and film credits

On the incorrect hierarchy of a film credit

The scenario: Hansal Mehta’s upcoming film ‘Simran’. Main (first) scriptwriter is Apurva Asrani. Enter: Kangana Ranaut, lead actress. The director gives her the go-ahead to edit parts of the story/dialogues (please note: a director has every right to get anyone of their choice to add/modify parts of the original script; officially, this also makes Kangana the “second” writer). But, the surprise: Apurva wakes up one not-so-fine day to find that Kangana’s ‘additional story and dialogue’ credit on the film poster appears AHEAD of his ‘story-screenplay-dialogue’ credit (possibly, to make the film more saleable?). Hell breaks lose.

 

Being a writer in the industry, this poster really saddens me. Maybe Kangana Ranaut did contribute to the script of Simran but there is no way the additional credit should be before Apurva Asrani’s the main writer of the film. How would Hansal Mehta feel if his associate director’s credit would come before his? Mr. Hansal Mehta, you have gained recognition and goodwill the last few years because of Shahid and most recently Aligarh, both of which you were riding on the wonderful script written by Apurva Asrani. This injustice clearly reveals your attitude towards writers. Your production house is called Karma Features, and am sure you know what they say about karma coming around. Please do the right thing. And Madam Kangana Ranaut, you have become a flag-bearer of sorts against many things wrong in the film industry. Let it not just be lip-service and turn your eye away from this injustice because this comes across as a blatant abuse of power and status. Again, I repeat, you may have contributed to the script and may have physically thrashed the keyboard and churned out words for your character and other characters in Simran but additional credit cannot and I mean CANNOT come before the main writer’s. So Please Do The Right Thing.
Saiwyn Quadras, Scriptwriter ('Neerja', 'Mary Kom')

 

“I stand by Saiwyn Quadras’ point of view. And most importantly, being an actor myself, I understand the importance of a creative actor, but I realise and support the indisputable importance of the creator, the writer! With you all the way, Apurva Asrani! Writer comes above all in any credit!”
Karan V Grover, Actor
“See, when an actor improvises over a writers work, it is her acting skills that she exercises. I don’t know if that is well explained to the actors as part of their process. In most cases, we have seen non trained actors, who lacked that skill earlier, being cast in lead roles!”
Aditi Roy Maelzer, Theatre artiste

 

“Actors who “boast” that we improvise on the lines should be asked, “Where were you when the page was blank?”… Saiwyn, is this the begining of a war of sorts? But, as writers, we will keep it Civil.”
Ramendra Vasishth, Dialogue writer
“Quite a pertinent point. Not only are the credits getting shared, they are getting stolen as well. It is unfortunate that people, after giving their blood and sweat, can’t be duly credited by the biggies.”
Purnangshu Paul, Writer/journalist

 

“Speechless! … Have shared the same fate for ‘Colours of Innocence’ too, with lot of other team members from Calcutta… When the Outside world does not know what has happened during the shoot… But I guess that’s how the world is sometimes… Unfair is the word!”
Joy Supratim, Cinematographer
“Guess everyone fears being rejected from the top brass. The sad part is they don’t know that these people even exist… people who are scared of writing the right thing coz it’s wrong in some celebrities’ books… And Saiwyn, I can totally understand your honesty as it’s definitely a scary thing if everyone falls prey to such pressures.”
Nivedita Basu, TV producer

 

This is a dangerous precedent. Most (good) actors contribute to the writing. They improvise their dialogues, and sometimes make it clear that they are not comfortable saying something and would rather say something else. Some actors even suggest new scenes to make the film better. But they don’t necessarily take / demand / are given writing credits. It’s just an extension of what they are doing. If everyone takes credit for every little contribution on a film set, then every person would be credited for everything. I know of directors who have started taking production design credits and editing credits. Why let go of other departments? The director is responsible for and should oversee every tiny detail in all sections. That doesn’t mean they should take credit for everything. If I decide every frame, should I put my name as Director of Photography? If I have a say in every cut point, editor’s credit needs to shared with me? How demeaning it is for the professional you have only hired to do the job! You’ll have “A Film By…” on the posters and trailers and give interviews everywhere… So, Captain, why do this with your own team?
Pratim D. Gupta, Film reviewer-turned-filmmaker

 

 

The above quotes have been sourced from the social media pages of Saiwyn QuadrasKaran GroverAditi Roy MaelzerRamendra Vasishth,  Joy SupratimNivedita BasuPratim Das Gupta, and Purnangshu Paul. See also: Question Over Kangana Renault’s Claim for story credit on Simran by Suresh Mathew, in ‘The Quint’.

 

O, famous scriptwriters of India, unite and protest. Ye have nothing to lose but the comfort of your respective a/c rooms.

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Piyush Chauhan is an apple farmer from Simla with an immense interest in films of all sorts, especially, Hindi. He has reviewed Hollywood films in the past for a semi-trade film magazine. And is a certified mountaineer. In his spare time, which isn’t much these days, he imagines climbing the impossible mountains. He dreams of, someday, touching the peak of Everest on his own as well as of introducing himself to popular Indian cinema as an actor-producer.

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