Birthday Boy Rajkumar Hirani’s 5 Tips on Screenwriting

Filmmaker Raju Hirani shares 5 tips on what makes a good script 

Updated20 Nov 2017, 04:16 AM IST
Entertainment
3 min read

Given his track record of successful films – Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai, 3 Idiots and PK, one would think writing comes naturally to Rajkumar Hirani. However, the writer-director admits that he also gets bouts of self-doubt while penning a script. We got the Hirani to sit down and share some of his scriptwriting mantras with us:

1. Be Patient

Rajkumar Hirani: “Writing tests you completely. You go through so many dark days when you won’t get a single thought all day and then you doubt yourself. You may wonder if you are really good or just a fluke. You may sit for a month and not be able to crack anything. You have to patiently keep trying, keep digging then you may come up with something. It’s not easy to retain that patience.”

Rajkumar Hirani at Aamir Khan’s look test for <i>PK&nbsp;</i>
Rajkumar Hirani at Aamir Khan’s look test for PK 

2. A Majority of the Film is Made on Paper

Rajkumar Hirani: “I don’t feel confident to goon set until every scene works. To be in cinema, you need to be patient. Don’tbe in a hurry to go on sets. Some people think that if you go on sets, then the film is being made. But I believe, a majority of the film is made long ago onpaper.”

3. Your Only Reason to Make a Film Should be the Script

Rajkumar Hirani: “Abhijat and I put a lot of time and effort in scriptwriting. We are not in a race to make a film every year. You should be happy with your complete script and that should be the only reason to make a film. That requires tremendous amount of patience and collaboration with people who have the guts to invest that kind of time and money in your vision.”

Rajkumar Hirani on location with Anushka Sharma for the film <i>PK&nbsp;</i>(Photo: Raju Hirani Films)
Rajkumar Hirani on location with Anushka Sharma for the film PK (Photo: Raju Hirani Films)

4. Pick Up From Life, Don’t Copy Others

Rajkumar Hirani: “The stories that you get from life are very interesting. Find unique stories. What happens in our industry is, if one thing works, people think that it worked because of ‘x’ reason. The first time someone would have put an item song, or shot in Switzerland, a group of people would have reasoned that the film became a hit because of that reason. The first time it worked was because it was a unique idea. When everyone started doing the same thing, it became a formula. Never follow a formula, Abhijat and I try to find a new thing to say every time.”

5. Never Decide What the Audience Will Like

Rajkumar Hirani: “We have told ourselves never to decide what the audience will like, because given the diversity of our country - one cannot judge that. Check whether what you are writing entertains you. When I was making Munnabhai MBBS, people told me why take an action hero like Sanjay Dutt for a film like this?  Why shoot the whole film in a hospital, it will never work. Shoot songs only abroad. This was the conventional wisdom then. You have to have the courage to break the rules.”

(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 12 December, 2016. It is being republished to mark Rajkumar Hirani’s birth anniversary.)

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Published: 16 Mar 2015, 09:12 AM IST
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!