Planet Bollywood
An open letter to Naseeruddin Shah
- Uttam Gada           Let us know what you think about this feature article

Editor's Note: Uttam Gada is the writer of original script of the film 'Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota'

Dear Mr. Naseeruddin Shah,

First of all let me wish you a very happy birthday!

I was thrilled when Paresh Rawal, a dear friend, who had read my script titled 'UDAAN' recommended it to you and having read it you 'loved' it and 'right away decided' that this will be the film for your debut as a director.

The film version of this script 'Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota' is now being released. I saw the film last week.

Millions of people who have admired your acting skills (yours truly included) are eagerly awaiting YHTKH with great expectations, to watch what kind of a film you have made.

As a writer of the film, this places a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. What kind of film you make would depend, to a large extent, on the script. And viewers would question me - what kind of a script I have written.

This gives me a right to ask you certain questions. More so as you did shut me up when I was vehemently objecting to the changes you had indicated, with "Now you have done your job. Let me take over as a director. Let me make the film from my point of view. I have handled more than two hundred screen plays - so just rest assured - I know what I am doing."

My question to you Mr.Shah, is, if you loved the script, what was the need for you to rewrite yourself almost 80% of the script?

My question to you, Mr. Shah is, if you loved the script - which has four parallel stories running, at a plain reading, the stories must have been interesting enough and narrative flow must have been smooth enough - what was the need, in that case Mr.Shah, to arbitrarily change all the stories and screw up the entire narrative structure?

If you loved the script, the characters must have been etched out clearly, to get you involved at the reading stage. Then, Mr. Shah, what was the need to change almost all the characterizations? For example - what was the need to replace a middle class Marwari mother-in-law with an American woman? And change the stock broker from a regular North Indian to a drug snorting Muslim?

I am not passing any judgment about your capabilities as a screen writer, nor am I staking any claim as to the merits of my script (nor do I want to whine here about my five month's hard labor going down the drain). The end result is before the world.

All I am doing is asking a few simple questions:- If the script was in such a mess that you had to rewrite almost all the scenes, change all the stories, recreate all the characters and rework all the dialogues, Mr.Shah, what was there in the original script that you loved so much and that immediately made you decide to make a film out of it?

And my question is, Mr.Shah, if you possess the screen writing skills, why dismantle and over write somebody else's script - why not write one on your own?

And if you could not control the creative rush and deployed your skills as a writer to such a great extent - why the credits read - 'WRITTEN BY UTTAM GADA' and not 'WRITTEN BY NASEERUDDIN SHAH'?

Just as you have built your reputation and goodwill, for thirty odd years, with a certain quality of acting, I too have built my reputation and goodwill as a writer of the stuff of certain quality , for thirty odd years, with twenty one plays, more than 5000 performances, in three languages and in five countries.

I am asking you, Mr. Shah, how do I tell every one - "Hey guys! This is NOT the stuff I wrote! Please, you know me, I don't write lines like 'You want to see my exploitation tool?'(Hemant, threatening to open the towel he is wearing, and asking his sister!) And, Mr.Shah, how do I convey to them that - the extended toilet talk is not my creation! And so on and on and on..

As your film is now releasing, it will enter the public domain. The world will wonder - Is this the script Mr. Naseeruddin Shah fell in love with? Is this the script Uttam Gada wrote?

I too have decided to place my script (the exact version you read) in the public domain, at www.uttamgada.com - for any one to download and read it. From anywhere. Anytime.

Now I can tell the world - 'before blaming me, please read my script and decide for yourself what is the source of the incompetent, unaesthetic and at times atrocious writing that has gone in to YUN HOTA TOH KYA HOTA!'

With this, all the questions I have raised will no longer be my personal questions.

Hundreds of talented people, who trusted you and slogged on this project, thousands of people world over who are passionate about Indian cinema and who are concerned about the lack of good, original scripts, a generation of writers who may be contemplating screen writing, and above all, the posterity, they all will ask these questions.

Mr. Shah, now we both owe the answers to them.

With warm regards.

Yours sincerely, Uttam Gada.


Uttam Gada can be reached at: uttamuttam@gmail.com
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