Pooja Ladha Surti has a penchant for the most twisted storylines and the most interesting characters. The writer of Andhadhun, Ek Hasina Thi, and now Flesh, discusses her convoluted ideas and how she does what only she can
Described as a jovial and fun person by those who know her, it’s surprising that Pooja Ladha Surti offers such dark and convoluted characters and storylines. Whether the character of Lady Macbeth-esque portrayed by Tabu in Andhadhun, or the powerfully diabolical character played by Urmila Matondkar in Ek Hasina Thi, Surti does not hesitate to reveal and revel in the dark sides of his characters. In the special Eros Now, Flesh, Surti gives us an insight into the dirty world of human trafficking and tells us what drives it and why. Read on.
- 1 How does the idea of Flesh origin, and what kind of research did you do for the same?
- 2 So many people describe you as an extremely positive and loving person. How do you find such dark and twisted characters?
- 3 You and Sriram Raghavan are sort of “partners in crime” so to speak. What makes your association so successful?
- 4 Do you think of a particular actor when you write your scripts?
- 5 How is writing a screenplay for an eight-episode web series from a feature film different?
- 6 A story like Flesh could easily have been sensational. Did this ever concern you when you agreed to write the script?
- 7 Do you think Bollywood is coming to a period of reckoning where writers are finally getting their due? How can the film industry better support its writers?
- 8 What are you going to work on next?
- 9 Is there something you particularly like or dislike about OTT platforms?
How does the idea of Flesh origin, and what kind of research did you do for the same?
Siddharth Anand already had a general idea of the idea, and I was asked to break it down into eight episodes. Danish Aslam, the director, also got involved in the writing as there was very little time as usual. Filming began while we were still writing. In terms of research, we spoke to a well-known NGO that is very actively involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of sex crimes. We also ran into cops. And there is still the World Wide Web.
So many people describe you as an extremely positive and loving person. How do you find such dark and twisted characters?
“Intensely positive” sounds lovely, I wish I was all of that. Jokes aside, I’m one of those people who believe that the workplace should be bright and encouraging – work, that is, writing, is tough and often dark, anyway. As for the twisted characters, they are more fun than the happy ones, what to do?
You and Sriram Raghavan are sort of “partners in crime” so to speak. What makes your association so successful?
Sriram is not involved in this project at all. It was actually his brother, Shridhar Raghavan (who wrote War for Siddharth Anand) who asked me to meet Anand. For Flesh, I wrote and submitted drafts, which were then implemented by Aslam with Anand’s production team. In the films I make with Sriram, I have greater responsibilities. I co-write, I am the associate director, and finally I edit the images. My first film as a writer, Ek Hasina Thi, was also Sriram’s first feature film. Then he was doing Johnny Gaddaar, and I asked if I could change it. I’ve never analyzed it, sometimes people can work well together. There is a small group of technicians, assistant directors and even actors, who have been a part of every Sriram Raghavan film. It’s an equation of mutual respect, and it’s very important to me.
Do you think of a particular actor when you write your scripts?
Not always. In Ek Hasina Thi, I knew I was writing for Urmila Matondkar. In Andhadhun, we were adamant that only Tabu could play Simi. Usually we have a basic draft and then we throw it away, and once the actor gets on board, the writing welcomes and celebrates that actor.
How is writing a screenplay for an eight-episode web series from a feature film different?
It was a first effort on my part. I only worked on feature films before that. I think I learned many lessons in the process. There was no writer’s room, so the amount of work was actually quite staggering. I was also busy with Andhadhun’s editing and post-production work at the time. Aslam was giving me feedback and we worked together on some of the arcs. There was a deadline hanging in our heads, which is, again, a little new experience for me. That’s not to say feature films don’t have deadlines, but in the case of a series, the writer (s) have to deliver a lot more material in comparison.
A story like Flesh could easily have been sensational. Did this ever concern you when you agreed to write the script?
Even though I wasn’t involved in the rewrites and only gave the first drafts of the script, I was very clear when I agreed to write for the show – the dark and scary world of traffic. sexual is the background. The characters of Rajji, Radha, Zoya and others are in the foreground, in the center. They are negotiating a cruel, destructive and brutal world. Their fight, their story is the point. Or should be.
Do you think Bollywood is coming to a period of reckoning where writers are finally getting their due? How can the film industry better support its writers?
Not really. Writers are always grappling with a lack of time, resources and funds. I do not know of any comprehensive solution to this question. There are many different types of people in the film industry, and I guess each individual negotiates this terrain in their own way. For me, having an equation of mutual respect with my directors and producers is important. I think someone should be paid fairly and be credited fairly.
What are you going to work on next?
I am co-writing with Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas on a film, as well as a horror comedy titled Bhoot Police with Pavan Kriplani. I’m running the writers room for a web series for Sanjay Routray of Matchbox Films, the producer of Andhadhun. With Sriram and Biswas, there are a couple of scripts that we’re working on, all in different stages of completion.
Is there something you particularly like or dislike about OTT platforms?
The problem with OTT platforms is this: there is too much to see and too little time.
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Hi, I am Divya I am A Digital Marketer with 5+ years of experience in marketing on various platform. I love to write about technology and various blogs about Dermatology, Neurology, Urology and Giving Reviews about the best doctors in these industries.