In my mind only Abigail can play Sia in Humse Hai Liife: Hitesh Kewalya!
Well, have you ever thought where a story evolves? In the mind of a writer. Where does it take shape? In his imagination. Where do you finally see it? On the screen! This journey from a creative mind to a visual medium is a story in itself and an interesting one too.
Rangmunch.TV introduces you to Hitesh Kewalya, who writes the story, screenplay and dialogues for Humse Hai Liife along with his sister Roopal Kewalya, on Channel V, and also adds the Nanda Kisor and Hallo Hi Bye Bye touches to Bua ji and Mamiji in Is Pyar ko Kyaa Naam doon through his dialogues. Talking to Hitesh, only makes you respect the Writer Fraternity even more as a clan, that silently work in the background, knowing fully well, that the name in those credits may just scroll away while the characters and stories they create, would go on to live in the hearts of the audiences forever.
Rangmunch Team had the priviledge of talking with Hitesh, who revealed some fascinating facts about his journey with Humse Hai Liife, the High School Drama on Channel V ….right from its conceptualization to the way it’s being portrayed onscreen!!
One fine day I got a call from Nissar (Parvez-Producer) as they had been toying with the idea of making a youth based show. When I came on board, at the onset it was very clear in our minds that we wanted to present a real story and not just a fluffy teenage romance to the audience.
What we had initially conceived was something more edgy and dark than what we are seeing right now. I happened to see a documentary in a film festival called the Boxing Ladies (by Anusha Nandakumar, SRFTI). Its a film about three sisters who undergo training to become boxers. It was not about the boxing, but the struggle the movie portrayed that gripped my attention. I then thought, our story needs to have a balance between both youth issues- the struggle of a boxer as well as her personal life. That’s how it all started. I began working on the initial story, gave the girl a past and then all of us jammed in and took it forward.
The Characterisation of Sia, the Protagonist!
….When writing a story, the biggest challenge is to create the protagonist. The protagonist of your show is someone who portrays certain values and virtues that reflect the kind of show you want to make. It is extremely important that the viewers relate and connect to him or her. I want every small town girl to look at Sia and identify with her. I want every girl to relate with Sia emotionally or otherwise. Therefore, etching out every aspect of a Character then becomes a mammoth task. It is like an ever-evolving process. Sia has to react differently in each situation. We also have to keep in mind that there is going to be a scenario where the girl who is so focused towards her passion and goal, will perhaps fall in love as well, and when that happens, how would she react then? Since the story revolves around Sia, hence in my opinion, she is the toughest one to pen down.
Aspects of Story telling...
Once your story is chalked out and your characters are relatable, everything else just falls in place. You don’t have to worry or bother about what others are doing. When telling a story, as a Writer, Director or a Producer one has to remember that the audiences are watching it because they connect and identify with your story. As long as we are true to our characters, and the story is engaging, we know a show will find its audience and people will watch it. Unveiling of story is like an onion. You peel off one layer and there is another one beneath it. If you can maintain the level of curiosity among the viewers, they will keep coming back to watch the show. You can’t keep comparing yourself to others or for that matter start following what they do. That’s not an ideal way to work on a story, as that way you are forcing things in a manner that is not organic to the entire set up.
Cliche Cliché Cliché …
Clichés always work on Television, but they should be carried out with an element of unpredictability attached to them. As a case study, in the first scene Gautam, Sia’s brother is shown running with a pair boxing gloves. Till the time he runs and comes, you know he is going towards Sia, but just when you think he will give it to her and there is going to be a regular brother and sister emotional scene, Sia slaps him. Now that thappad (slap) was the element of unpredictability, which the audiences did not anticipate. Therefore, we try to play around clichés but tweak it wherever necessary, so that there is an element of surprise and freshness in the way its presented.
Hero.... as in a Fiction!!
…..In any story-the word Hero means a person who is strong. Even if you look at history, a Hero is someone who touches death, over comes obstacles, and reaches the roof. Touching death is a part of his weakness, and the transformation that happens from weak to strong is what goes into making a Hero. You can even take an instance from our day to day life - for me, beating traffic and reaching a place on time makes me a Hero too (laughs). The protagonist is however, different from a Hero. Here in Humse Hai Life, Vishal could be the protagonist- but then there always has to be a Hero in a story!
When Sia met Abigail ...
….I think I am still in the process of making the two meet. I have made certain observations about Abigail after having interacted with her and watched her perform from close quarters. Somewhere it becomes very important to marry the two; the character and the girl portraying it. Right now in my head only Abigail can play Sia. If it was someone else, then we would have had a different Sia. While writing scenes for Sia, I always keep Abigail, the person in mind. Since I know how Abigail speaks in real life, it becomes easier for me to incorporate it in my writing, as I know how she would perform in a particular scene. There are certain things that Abigail does, and if it works for us, then Sia does it too. Adding layers to a performer and a character is an evolving process. It’s like an orchestra. There might be a tabla, harmonium, a violin, but how much of each needs to be played and when is what brings in the harmony.
After a point in time, the audience become very particular about what they want to see of a character. If you do not show character consistency, then audiences start alienating themselves from what they are watching. Hence, we have to be alert at all times when we are projecting a character in a certain way.
Imagination Vs. Reflection….I wouldn’t be in my right mind if I thought what I wrote would exactly get translated on screen to the T. It’s not a cake recipe. Even cakes don’t turn out the same every time even though we follow the same recipe. A story is a Vision. Especially in Television or any creative medium, you just add your bit and pass it on. There is always going to be a value addition at every stage. No one person drives the entire scene. Everyone working on a show is looking at it from his or her perspective. The Writer, the Director, the Producer, and even the Channel at times comes back with their feedback. When you work on a story over a period of time, you eventually end up developing a vision that everyone agrees upon.
As a writer, when I first thought of this story, as i had told you earlier, it was very dark in nature, but eventually changes happened. I knew at the back of my mind, that the story may not be the way I had actually conceived it. As you meet different people and discuss things, a concept develops and takes its own shape. There is no hard and fast rule that one person sets the vision and the rest merely follows it. It doesn’t happen that way and it shouldn’t either.
For instance, we have decided on showing an elephant in our story. Now, whether we want to show a white elephant, a fat one, or a big one or some other, is something that all of us have to agree upon. Amalgamation of ideas always brings about a better product. I consider myself lucky to be working with 4Lions as they always give me an opportunity to share my thoughts and views. However, after all our brainstorming and discussions we always manage to reach a common ground at the end of the day. There have been instances when I have wanted to make some changes at the last moment, and have mailed them as late as the morning of the shoot and they have made those additions in the shoots because they agree it would fit better with the story...
….I don’t think Television or film scripts need flowery or poetic language at all times. I follow a very normal way of writing. Like for example, if I write about a beautiful morning, there could be many perceptions to a beautiful morning. Whose beautiful morning is it? Is it being shot in a chawl or elsewhere?
The Art of Writing...
The Art of Writing...
So I need to remember the character, the set up and the story while penning down my thoughts. If I end up writing something that is beautiful to read, but difficult for a Director to execute, then my writing would be of no use.
Humse Hai Liife ….The story!!!
...Humse Hai Liife is a story about what ultimately drives you towards your passion. This is a tale of Sia’s struggle. We may not show how she is going to go and win the Olympics, but Sia wants to be a boxer and this story tells you how she uses every opportunity to fulfill her dreams in a place where she perhaps has things working against her at all times. Her success and survival forms the crux of the story.
We are also trying to establish a character that is diametrically opposite to Sia; Pooj, who shares the room with Sia. Despite hailing from similar backgrounds both Sia and Pooj think differently. While Sia uses her scholarship at Elite to pursue her dreams to be a boxer, Pooj takes this as an opportunity to mould herself and become a part of the world and society she has moved into. She wants to befriend a bunch of people who she thinks are cool in order to find acceptance. With Pooj, we are trying to subtly show you the other side of human psyche.
The story is set in a school wherein you can bring in various angles and aspects. It can become a zone where you could just be having fun. But our idea is also to give a message while telling the story, not only to the youth, but also to parents who watch the show and relate to every character as they might be seeing their own child in one of the kids at Elite. Every character has its own story and acts in a particular way with the other for a certain reason. There is so much to explore that at times we are equally anxious for the story to unfold. You will also see, various other angles getting revealed as the story progresses.
We know, we are making a show, which would eventually cater to a wide range of audience, not just youngsters. We want every person who watches the show, to see it because a part of them connects with the story. Hopefully, we should be able to achieve that in the days to come.
We would like to thank Hitesh for sharing his Humse Hai Liife experience with Rangmunch.TV and taking most of us back to school, with his true to life High School Drama.
Interviewed and Edited by:
Niharika Vidya Sagar