You can say my passion is finally paying off. The success of Rang De Basanti (RDB), which I co-authored with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, has opened the floodgates. Right now, I am working on four projects. I ask for Rs 30 lakh for a script.
As a teenager, I was awestruck by the flickering images on the big screen. In 1989, I joined Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai, to do a course in filmmaking and spent over a year preparing a documentary on Jewish priests in India.
The Hindi film industry in the early 1990s was not very receptive to my kind of story ideas. Perforce, I had to find other sources of income. In 1991, I joined J Walter Thompson as a copywriter.
I gradually moved from print advertisements to TV commercials, where my training as a filmmaker gave me a head start. Films happened after I met Mehra at Rediffusion in 1993 and we made several ad films together. In 1996, he asked me to write the script of Aks. While the film did average business, my work was appreciated. Mehra and I spent the next three years working on the screenplay of RDB.
Apart from my nascent career in script writing, I was also focusing on my primary career as an advertising professional. I believe this is the age of multitasking. However, it has to be a very disciplined approach.
From 9 am to 7:30 pm, I am devoted to my profession as senior creative director with Meridian, O&M’s boutique agency. From 8 pm to 10:30 pm I am busy with story sessions. The next hour I spend with my daughter. From 11:30 pm till 3 in the morning I work on screenplays to meet my target of six pages a day. I can do with four to five hours of sleep a day.
It was RDB that helped me set my sights higher. I am turning director for one of my scripts. Advertising will not suffer, I still have a few hours to spare.
As told to Rajshree Kukreti