Saturday 28 May 2022
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Tanakpur ‘writer’ blames the director for ‘bad’ film

I am a member of a WhatsApp group where Varun Gautam, to whom the screenplay of Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho is jointly credited along with director Vinod Kapri, is a member, too. Last night a few of us went to see the film. A friend and I dozed off in the middle of the movie. On return, we wrote in the group that we did not like the movie; I said treating the film like a play was the main flaw in the production.

A senior journalist who accompanied me complained that the film went so much into detailing that the focus was lost. One was not sure if it was a commentary against beliefs, a backward village, the police system or the legal fraternity. He said the film suffered from a tediously slow pace and it lacked a sense of direction.

From his experience in print and electronic journalism, he guessed director Kapri, who happened to be a news editor in a television channel before taking to films, had fiddled with the story the same way as some editors tamper with a reporter’s original report.

Subjected to such criticism, Varun Gautam gave us his version of what transpired behind the camera. I have edited what he wrote only for grammatical and orthographic errors (and changed the journalist’s name):

Vinod Kapri

Sorry! I didn’t want to say this, but since Nachiketa ji has started the topic, I would like to clarify certain things.

Vinod Kapri was a novice in the field of cinema when he approached me to develop his idea into a film. When it shaped up, he started moulding it according to his thoughts. This was not acceptable by me, but he was rigid and the end result is there for all to see.

I was against bringing in any kind of slapstick comedy or playing to the gallery because this kind of subject needed a realistic approach.

When you crave all the mileage in one film and stop listening to those who have more experience than you, you end up making such a film.

The first draft that I had written was entirely different and I still feel that I should shoot that and prove that how a good subject should be treated.

If somebody tells you that he knows what works and what is sold in the market in spite of your knowing that his claims are misplaced, what can you do?

The producer hired me as I’ve had a proven track record. There is a difference between a news editor and a film director, and I hope Vinod Kapri has realised this by now.

I was kept away from the shoot as he started feeling insecure. Annu Kapoor knew from day one what my job was. I challenge Vinod to come and read out a scene from the film with proper diction if he claims that he has written the script.

I was shocked when I saw that my name was not there in the trailer. Then another shock came when the poster carried his name as writer-director.

I was hurt. I called him and sought an explanation. He apologised and blamed some production controller for the goof up.

The next day a friend called me up to tell that my name was missing in the Wikipedia article and the IMDb page about MTHH.

I called Vinod again. This  he said he would get it rectified. I have all the conversation saved.

When I went for the premier, Vinod did not introduce me to anybody and didn’t mention my name anywhere.

I could have filed a case against him on the basis of my contract, but I didn’t do it. As I believe in forgiving. Vinod will realise my worth one day.

I had sensed his intentions long ago, but I wanted to see how a man who once called me ‘Guru’ changes.

At this point, the senior journalist suggested that Gautam take recourse to law. The writer responded thus:

Varun Gautam

Forget it, Nachiketa ji. Such people come and go in this industry. I have seen a lot of them. I believe in hard work and honesty. Whatever is due to me cannot be snatched away by anybody.

In the poster of the film, if he (Vinod Kapri) dares to take credit for what I have done, it is a crime obviously. How could he say “written and directed by Vinod Kapri”? While in the credits it is shown that I am the co-writer.

qismat ki baat hai ki 29 saal likhne aur apna kaam khoob saabit karne ke baad mujhe Vinod Kapri ke saath credit share karna pada jo main kabhi nahi chaahta tha. [It’s my fate that after 29 years of writing and proving my worth in the industry, I had to share credit for my work with Vinod Kapri, which was never acceptable to me.]

He was right. He knows my capability as a writer. It was I who narrated the subject to Annu bhai when Vinod Kapri didn’t have the confidence even to narrate his story.

Anyway, manipulation doesn’t work always. You need to have the talent, and it works more if you are a good human being.

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Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sirf News Surajit Dasgupta has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life, the first national affairs editor of Swarajya, executive editor of Hindusthan Samachar and desk head of MyNation

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