One of India’s premier screenwriters, Anjum Rajabali, has begun a residency at Simon Fraser University’s Praxis Centre for Screenwriters through to February 23, 2012.
During that period, Rajabali will conduct a five-day intensive scriptwriting workshop on the state of Indian cinema and introduce his own film, Raajneeti.
Having worked with a number of India’s best-known directors and actors, including the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, Rajabali heads the screenwriting programs at both of India’s major film schools - the official Film and Television Institute of India and the new Whistling Woods International, founded by Bollywood producer/director Subhash Ghai.
Rajabali has been a critic of the Bollywood system in regards to screenwriting. In 2003 he wrote an article entitled ‘The Unimportance of Scriptwriting,’ lamenting the “miserable” status of the Bollywood writer, working in an environment where scripts are regularly designed on a whim by producers and stars.
Ten years later, the industry has stabilized and is looking to crack international markets, increasing the demand for variety and narrative coherence and resulting in more opportunities for screenwriters.
Rajabali’s relationship with SFU stems from his interactions with SFU’s Field School in Art and Culture ofContemporary India, headed by Patricia Gruben. The field school has twice visited Whistling Woods International, where Rajabali has conducted dissertations on the subject of Indian cinema.
Aysha Viswamohan, a professor of film studies at the India Institute of Technology Madras, will join Rajabali during his visit.
Rajabali’s five-day scriptwriting workshop runs from February 14-21, with five evening sessions. His discussion on Indian cinema ‘Breaking Bollywood: Current Trends in Indian Cinema’ takes place on Friday, Feb. 17, while a screening of Raajneeti takes place on Feb. 21, both at 7 p.m., at the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.