TLFMagazine -An interview with Ritesh Shah

Meet the writer of PINK Ritesh Shah

Meet the writer of PINK  Ritesh Shah

Since its release PINK has been stirring a storm of rave reviews from one and all. It  is apt, it is relevant, it hits you hard and it is also extremely well written. We caught up with the man of the moment, writer Ritesh Shah... here are the excerpts from the conversation
by TurboMac

PINK has been appreciated by one and all. What propelled you to write this story?

 Director Anirudh (Tony Da) came up with this idea of three girls getting involved in a situation like this and it immediately attracted me because there were a lot of things that I also wanted to say about the reasons, the mindset leading to such incidents. That was my motivation of coming on board as a writer.

Indian cinema has come a long way, filmmakers are changing the way they work then why do you think that even with a story like PINK, a star like Amitabh Bachchan was made a part of the film? Do you think audiences, still, only watch movies that have a good star cast?

We didn't think about it that way. We needed a good actor for the part of a lawyer who is himself suffering, his partner is dying , he is losing his mind and yet he is motivated to fight. Who better than Mr. Amitabh Bachchan to play it? If he was just a star we would not have taken him, we took him because he is an extremely good actor. A few good films do fail because they don't have an established starcast but some also work and yet it is always an advantage to have at least one popular face. Just as successful brands and even government directives sometimes need one. It attracts people's attention. It is the audience which can change things. If they patronize good non star cast films more such good films can be made.

When you work on a story like Airlift, which is based on real incidents, What kind of research goes into it? What are the challenges you face?

A lot of research goes into it not only for scripting but also for production design (art direction) and costumes. Usually physical interviews with survivors, old newspaper/magazine articles, photographs from that era, books, news footage and commentaries form the basis. But since we are making fiction and not a documentary there is this whole new struggle to strike a balance between drama and facts - to make characters heroic yet believable. In a film like Airlift we managed to create a balance but at times we can also fail. Human beings do.   

Do you think a girl child makes a difference in the outlook of a man? How has your life changed after the birth of your daughter?

Not really, I think by the time we attain adulthood most of our beliefs and attitudes are already cemented. But I am only speaking for myself. Maybe some do because now they have a girl child and they think/feel they better be on the 'equality' side of the debate. However I was raised among many girls- my cousins, I had friends and teachers who were girls, girlfriends - I was gender sensitized already and I have only the women in my life to thank for that. My mother once told me that she was really proud of the fact that not a single girl had ever complained against me for having made her uncomfortable in any manner. However if we don't look at gender, the birth of my child has enriched my life completely. It has put me in touch with emotions I never felt before and I feel I became a better writer and better person after her birth. If you look at my career, my best work has come after she started talking and gave me a whole new voice. "Pink" is for her also. It is a prayer for a gender friendly world for her to grow up in.

If there is one advice you had to give to her on her 16th birthday, what would that be?

Be yourself. Be kind to fellow human beings and animals. Be with a man because you want to not because he is begging you - not because you are dependent on him financially or emotionally. Be compassionate - Biologists say it is a quality only we human beings have. You have taken from the world. Give something back to it whenever you can.

Do you think you will ever write a story on Kashmir? How would you want it to end? (Ritesh was born in Kashmir and bought up in Kashmir)

This is a very very difficult question for me to answer. I haven't developed the emotional maturity yet to deal with Kashmir in terms of a film. Mine is still a biased hurtful narrative without hope and without hope you cannot tell stories. When I rediscover my faith in Kashmir I will tell my Kashmir story which if not of a happy ending will at least talk of a happy beginning.