Rangmunch: What are those three most important things you take into consideration when signing up a project?
Subrat Sinha: If we talk of a TV show, I first see what kind of a subject is it? Does it inspire me? Will it hold my interest for the next six months to one year because that’s the kind of commitment one has to have for a daily soap. Will it satisfy me as a writer? Will I be able to contribute to the show?
Secondly, who are the people involved. What is their intention behind making this? Are they passionate enough? What are their sensibilities? Attitudes? Are they open to changes? Arey they willing to listen? How quality conscious are they?
Thirdly, how commited is the producer in terms of money. After all, at the end of the day, you can’t survive just on accolades.
Rangmunch: Do dialogues play an important role in setting up a character?
Subrat Sinha: They certainly do. But not dialogue alone. What the character is saying is one thing. That’s the surface. But what the character is not saying is far more important.
Rangmunch: What appeals to you about the show Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuch Kaha and what prompted you to be a part of this project?
Subrat Sinha: I had worked with Seema & Sudhir earlier. They are one of the best producers I have come across. Both are very Creative, have good sensibility and are honest. The best part is that they know how to respect writers because they understand what writing is all about.
One day Sudhir called me and narrated the story. I liked it immediately and became a part of the NBT team.
But as I started working on the project, what I loved was Vinita Coelho’s concept and story design and Sonal’s (Ganatra) detailing of the story and screenplay. The ease with which it flows. There is no forced drama. It has a very life like quality to it. And that suits my writing style very well.
I am so happy that we have a wonderful cast. A brilliant team to execute it. And an adorable creative team along with the channel creative team who have all come together to make NBT what it is today.
Rangmunch: Na Bole Tum as a show is gaining popularity with every passing day. What according to you is the USP of this show which bind the audience?
Subrat Sinha: It’s different :-D Viewers love the slice of life feel of NBT. There is freshness every week in the story and its moving at a very good pace, without melodrama.
Rangmunch: Why do you think viewers love every Mohan and Nanhi interaction? How much of a challenge is it to write their dialogues keeping their age difference in mind and yet make their conversations look sensible?
Subrat Sinha: Yes. It’s a fact that viewers love Mohan and Nanhi’s interaction. I guess, its because this is one relationship where there is no pretense. Where not only does Mohan treat his chawanni as an equal. And even Chawanni thinks that her Spiderman is her age. This thought was echoed by Guru in one of the episodes where he says “Baat to aise karti hai jaise Mohan uski class mein padhta hai!” Yes definitely, writing and direction do contribute to their chemistry. But I give complete credit to Nanhi and Mohan for the way they have made it come alive on screen.
Writing for the two was a challenge in the beginning. I relied on my interactions with my niece. She too treats me “jaise mai uski class mein padhta hoon”. But once I saw Nanhi and Mohan on screen, it was smooth sailing. Nanhi is an angel. I am in love with her.
Rangmunch: Guru despite being a domestic help, is Mohan’s inner voice and his pillar of strength. How do you ensure that his interactions with Mohan while being humorously sensible do not sound preachy?
Subrat Sinha: Your answer lies in your question. “Humorously sensible” The best way to do that for Guru is through comedy. Like it happens in real life. We get away with many things if we use good humor to say them. Guru’s default setting is such that no matter what he says, he sounds funny.
Rangmunch: How much of a challenge is it to write dialogues for a character like Mohan who is unlike the regular heroes of our Hindi soaps?
Subrat Sinha: Mohan is unlike regular soap heroes. But he is very much like us. He is one of us. Therefore its fairly easy to write his lines. But the credit here goes to the story and screenplay writers. The kind of scenes they come up for Mohan. They give me all the raw material. I just play with it. At times, I have used the lines as written by Sonal in the screenplay. For example, there was a terrace scene where Nanhi tells Mohan about butterflies. I merely translated what Sonal had written. It was so beautiful that I couldn’t think of anything better.
Rangmunch: Na Bole Tum is an unconventional love story told with subtle emotions and moments between the lead pairs and is not high on drama. How easy or difficult is it to create romantic moments without melodramatic lines and entice the viewers?
Subrat Sinha: We all just believed in the story and its characters and wrote it without thinking about enticing the viewers. When you flow with the characters and allow them to express themselves, they start leading you. They tell you what they want to say. They also tell you how they want to say it. They whisper it all in your ears. So you see, how easy it is.
Rangmunch: What was the idea behind giving names like chawanni, piddi, mirchi madam and spider man to the respective characters?
Subrat Sinha: If I say that I coined these terms, it would be a big lie. They have come from my various team members. But if you notice, three of the above are names coined by Mohan. Chawanni and Piddi for Nanhi & Adu’s respective sizes. Mirchi Madam happened because of Megha’s fiery interactions with Mohan in the initial episodes. And Nanhi started calling Mohan Spiderman after she saw him jumping from one roof to another to come to her. And since he always helps her, he is her superhero.
Rangmunch: Which is the easiest and most difficult character to write dialogues for in Na Bole Tum?
Subrat Sinha: Now, I know all of them very well. So none of them are difficult to write. Initially it was Nanhi’s character. Kids can sound super cute or super irritating. It was a challenge to not be the latter. If I have to say who is the easiest to write for, its again Nanhi. Give her anything and she creates magic on screen.
Rangmunch: As a dialogue writer have you ever felt the story could have been different? If so, do you in your capacity ever try and tweak things at your level?
Subrat Sinha: Not the broader story. But yes, whenever I feel I can contribute to the episodic plots I do communicate it to the creative team. By the time it comes to me for dialogue, there is hardly any time to make larger changes in the story. If I feel the need to twaek a scene, I do it only after Sonal, Seema and Ankur’s (Creative Head) permission.
Rangmunch: Do you discuss an episode with Vinita Coelho/Sonal Ganatra before writing it down or do you step in only after their share of work is done?
Subrat Sinha: I don’t get to interact much with the writing team primarily because I am based in Delhi. But whenever we can, we do speak over the phone.
Rangmunch: Did you ever have to write dialogues for a scene you do not approve of personally?
Subrat Sinha: Thankfully, never. I have a great team. If I feel there is a problem with any scene, they all step in to see how it can be solved.
Rangmunch: After you have pen down the dialogues for an episode, do improvisations happen at the execution level? If yes, to what extent and how often? Do you agree to those changes?
Subrat Sinha: Yes, they do change sometimes. But only for the better. Improvisations on set is a very healthy thing and it goes on to prove that your actors, directors are all thinking and reacting to your lines. I welcome all the changes till they don’t tamper with the soul of the scene.
Rangmunch: What would you like to tell the viewers who have been flooding the social networking sites with words of appreciation for your mind blowing dialogues on Na Bole Tum?
Subrat Sinha: Its very very encouraging. And it surely helps me to write better and better. So please keep pouring in your love and kind words. Afterall, taareef sunna kisey achchha nahin lagta?
(As shared with Swati Ghosh)