mid-day's 39th anniversary: Success between beginning and end
A writer who brings small town-India flavour to hit scripts says a story is all about the first scene and last
Himanshu Sharma, 37
National Award-winning writer and producer
Chasing Himanshu Sharma is exhausting. After mounting international call bills, and generous pleading, he connects with us from the US, where he is working with frequent collaborator Aanand L Rai on Shah Rukh Khan's Zero. We know him as the writer of hit films, Tanu Weds Manu (2011) and Raanjhanaa (2013), and although he's only a few films old, it's been a long journey for him. Sharma, who had hoped to become an IAS officer and follow family tradition, changed his mind and decided to turn writer.
"Academics requires focus and dedication, and I wasn't sure I had that. I was doing theatre on the side, and that seemed more interesting." His first job was as health reporter for a news portal. Today, he is sought after for adding colour to stories from India's heartland. He admits that his vision is guided by his upbringing, first in Lucknow and then, Delhi. But with Zero, he is trying to break new ground.
"I identify with small towns, but I wish to expand my horizon and move my stories to urban India and other countries." Writing, he says, is a job of responsibility, and with accolades comes criticism. While he was appreciated for creating a strong woman character in Tanu Weds Manu, he took the brunt for "glorifying stalking" in Raanjhanaa. "[People don't understand that] contradictions exist. Both the women were real. They are human and must be projected thus. [We must showcase] their flaws and strengths, and, love or hate them. I don't see a reason to treat women characters any differently than we treat male protagonists," he argues.
And so, his approach to scripts isn't stenciled either. "The fascinating thing about a story is that it is like a new lock, that requires its own key. There is no pattern I can follow. Sometimes, a story comes first [to mind]. Sometimes, it's a character that I develop first, and write the story around it. But, I certainly need to know the beginning and the end of the film, right at the start. The middle can be sorted out later."
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