Today marks 11 days since the Writers Guild of America went on strike demanding higher wages and a stable pay structure. Some of the other demands include fair dealing and protection from artificial intelligence. As a result of the strike, which is supported by major filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan, production on several projects has been halted.
But its effects can also be felt in this part of the world, where writers have long been talking about the exact same problems. The only difference is that he has got the voice for the first time and talks will begin with the producers to sort out the issues.
Anjum Rajabali, who has written films such as Ghulam, and co-wrote the screenplay for Raajneeti, says, “Although their strike has no direct bearing on the Indian situation, it has brought public attention to the unfair treatment meted out to writers.” Here too screenwriters face serious problems professionally. Writing fees in India are not even close to the value that screenplays fetch for films. New and young writers are distressed because they Feeling exploited. The contracts offered by producers, studios and platforms are largely one-sided and the company demands all rights and protections, leaving the author vulnerable. And most importantly, the right to own work Getting credit. However, the contract stresses that credit will be given at the discretion of the producer!”
Apoorva Asrani, who has written the acclaimed film Aligarh and web show Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors, feels that a writer needs the backing of successful actors and directors. “In America you have Christopher Nolan and Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin, actors Jennifer Coolidge and Jimmy Fallon offering passionate support to writers on blogs, social media and even standing in picket lines. In India, where actors and directors are paid disparately to writers, nobody really wants to change the status quo,” says the 45-year-old.
Zeeshan Quadri, author of the film Gangs of Wasseypur, says that there is no unity among writers here in India. “All of us should be called for a meeting, there is no organized way here. There is no one to guide the writers. If something is going wrong it continues.
Mitesh Shah, co-writer of Helicopter Eela and Tumbbad, explains, “SWA has been talking about all this for a long time. But after the US strike, I have not received as many calls as I am getting now. Barring a few people from the industry, there has been very little support. I know some writers who are selling their scripts for cheap 50,000- one lakh, when the minimum wage should be at least 12 lakhs. A writer doesn’t write many stories in a lifetime, you don’t want them to die poor. The piece of paper is where it all begins.