Welcome Back with writers Rajiv Kaul & Raaj Shaandilya
Rajiv Kaul and Raaj Shaandilya are known for tickling the funny bone with their humorous writing. With more than sixty films under his belt, writer Rajiv Kaul has given us light-hearted movies like Ready, Welcome, Ishq and others. Raaj Shaandilya on the other hand, is known for spreading laughter through ‘Comedy Circus’ & ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’. In a chat with Pandolin, the writers talk about their new movie Welcome Back, the journey of being a writer and much more.
How did you get associated with Welcome Back?
Rajiv Kaul (RK): I have previously written three films with director Anees Bazmee – Shola Aur Shabnam, Sanam, and Welcome. One day, Anees casually asked me what was I doing and I said nothing. He then told me that there is a film that has to be written and I said okay, I’ll do it. That is how the story of Welcome happened. After seven years we came together once again to write Welcome Back. But we needed someone on the dialogue front and that is how Raaj (Shaandilya) came aboard.
Since this is a sequel, was it is difficult to write for characters that were already established in the first movie?
Raaj Shaandilya (RS): It was tough to recreate characters that were already established. On top of that, the characters of Uday Shetty and Majnu Bhai are very popular, plus the actors playing the characters (Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor) are very talented actors and experts in their field. For me writing dialogues for such established actors and characters was a little difficult. Also since I’ve previously written two major shows – Comedy Circus & Comedy Nights with Kapil – I constantly had this feeling that nothing should be missed anywhere, and I had to bring in a freshness too. Fortunately, I have experience in dialogue writing and could understand what will suit whom and according to that I wrote dialogues for the characters.
Did you feel any pressure while writing for Welcome Back because of the success of Welcome?
RS: Pressure! A writer is the only one who is under pressure. Writing a script or dialogues is fine but the main issue arises when you have to divide dialogues among the characters.
RK: I’ll tell you what happens. A writer will write the script and give it to the dialogue writer, but the dialogue writer has to see that he divides all the beautiful lines among all the actors. This is a major difficulty for any writer, he/she has to make sure no one feels left out.
RS: This has happened to me while I was writing for ‘Comedy Circus’. I used to write for both Kapil and Krishna and one would feel that the other got a better line. This has been happening since ages and will continue to do so and it is fine. The main thing for a writer is to bring that freshness into the dialogues that make it unique.
Can you tell us something about the research you did while writing Welcome Back?
RK: There is no research involved. A writer’s work comes from pure imagination. When I was told to write Welcome Back, something just struck me and I thought that a story like this can be created, which can connect to the first one. Research would be watching different films and reading extensively. Understanding what the audience will like is part of the research. But the best research is observing real life! For example, the two characters Majnu Bhai and Uday Shetty that were developed by me were inspired by two people I had known at some point in my life. I don’t remember their names, but one of them was a guy belonging to the underworld so, seeing him, I created Majnu. The other was a man running an Udipi hotel from whom I picked up traits and incorporated in the character. A writer gives birth to the character.
RS: I agree, research is all in your head. You might see a movie or read a book, but that is more like a reference. A writer will create a story or the character from his own creativity and imagination.
Your favorite character/moment from the movie is?
RK: I love the whole movie, but there is one scene in the first movie (Welcome) when the character is walking on a pipe that I like the best. There is also the graveyard scene from Welcome itself, which required a lot of research.
RS: My favorite character from the movie is Majnu Bhai. The character is very energetic and serious at the same time; the character of Majnu Bhai has everything that a powerful character requires.
Is there a process that you follow while writing?
RK: There is no such process or law that one can follow. For a writer there are no set rules, every thought is running and you just keep on writing and making the story. There are no such books that you can follow, again, it is about using your own imagination.
RS: Yes, definitely your imagination and creativity is all that really matters. And each writer has their own way of writing.
Making people laugh is difficult. What inspires you to write comedy?
RS: Today’s hectic lifestyle leaves people unhappy and to be the one who gets laughter in their life is one of the biggest inspirations for me to write comedy. The other thing that I believe is that a writer is a one person who is the happiest and the saddest, sad because they don’t get paid well and happy because they know they won’t be paid so there is nothing to lose (laughs). As far as inspiration is concerned, you can get inspired from so many places or people, it could be a police officer, or a cricketer.
Raaj, you have written for Comedy Circus & Comedy Nights with Kapil, how was it different than writing for a movie?
RS: Writing for a movie and a show is extremely different. While writing for a movie, you only have one chance to get it right. On the other hand, if by chance there is some error in an episode, there is always a next one. There is no possibility of trial and error in a movie. The limitation of a character is another thing that makes the two very different. In movies, characters are limited, which is not the case while writing for a show. There are many things that distinguish the two from each other.
Your name is in the ‘Limca Book of Records’ for writing the most comedy scripts for shows. How many scripts did it take for your name to appear in the book?
RS: I have actually written over 1000 scripts but the number of scripts mentioned in the ‘Limca Book of Records’ is 625.
Your favorite comedy movie & writer is?
RK: There are many movies that I like but Dulhe Raja and Welcome are two of my favorites.
RS: I have a long list of favorite movies. Films like Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Andaz Apna Apna and Welcome are movies that I can watch again and again.
Are you planning to venture into other genres of writing?
RS: I love to write comedy, but yes I will be writing for different genres soon.
RK: I have written more than 60 films dealing with different genres, but writing comedy, even though it is difficult, has its own charm.
Can you share something about your future ventures?
RK: I will be working on a suspense film that will have elements of thriller, romance, and a bit of comedy of course.
Lastly, any words of wisdom for budding writers?
RK: Work very hard and make a name for yourself. But remember to take the credit you are due.
RS: I completely agree with this, taking credit for your work is very important. I firmly advise writers who are coming in the film industry that even if they get paid less or not at all, never ever forget to take credit for your own work.
RK: A writer writes a script of more than 800 pages, but when it comes to publicity his/her name is not visible. The only writers who made this possible are Salim-Javed but unfortunately they separated. They started the tradition of mentioning a writer’s name in the banner. That was a proud moment for writers. I wish that in future a movie’s banner will have the writer’s name first. The credit normally goes to a director, an actor even to a producer, but it is a writer who actually creates the story. A writer is the one who has to appease everyone – the director, the actor, the cameraman, but there is no one to appease the writer.
RS: This will surely change; we will bring about that change. It has already started. When I was called to the stage of ‘Comedy Nights’ people started realizing that behind the show, there is a writer responsible for the core ideas.
RK: Also, one of the technical problems is that our newspapers and magazines run only because of the actors, it is all still very actor-centric. This is not the case in Hollywood where writers are given credit for their work.