"Rang De Basanti" writer Kamlesh Pandey on Sunday said he was so driven to make the Aamir Khan-starrer that he took on the job for "very less" remuneration.Â In his career of over 30 years, Pandey has penned blockbusters and acclaimed films like "Saudagar", "Tezaab" and "Delhi 6".Â
At a session organised by the Screenwriters Association (SWA), Pandey said today there is a new plan which ensures fair pay to writers.Â "Actors set their own fees, so a writer should also set his/her fees according to how hard one has worked. For example, I took about a year to write 'Rang De Basanti' and it took six years for it to be a final film. The money I got, the spot boy would've got paid more," Pandey said.Â
"I don't feel sad about that though. I agreed because I wanted to make this film at any cost. It was my decision because I could afford to do that. That I could work for less money," he added. The writer said money was not a factor for him in his initial days as he was cushioned by an advertising job.Â
"I moonlighted as an advertising professional and a film-TV writer. I kept the safety net of advertising for a long time, till 1992, and then left it.Â
"Whether a job or something else, you have to have something for yourself. It wouldn't work if you only depend on writing. If you are a new writer in this expensive city, it's difficult to survive purely on writing." Pandey further noted a writer must always keep in mind the time his story is set in and update it accordingly.Â
Citing an example from "Rang De Basanti", the scribe said when he was penning the Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra-directed movie, six films on Bhagat Singh had already flopped.Â "I was turned down from everywhere because people called it 'another film on Bhagat Singh after six flops'. I told them it's about young India. Bhagat Singh is a device. 'What he would do if he was here today, what are the children of today doing?'
"But people didn't get the script. In fact, we had gone with the film to a big superstar's son. But his mother said 'My son won't die!'" he said. Asked if a writer should always hold their ground when there is a suggestion from the producer or actor to tweak the script, Pandey said they should roll with it as long as it helps the story. "The climax of 'Rang De Basanti' was set in the Lok Sabha where the men go and carry a shootout. We debated a month over this that it would never get censor (certificate). You can't use Lok Sabha for this. Aamir said he had an idea.Â
"For some other film of his, he had kept a situation that the men enter a radio station and give their statement from there. It worked and I said 'It's fantastic, let's do this'. So it isn't that you don't listen to anyone. Whatever works for the benefit of the story, do it," he added.Â