Shibani Bathija: Our films are like our food
Screenwriter Shibani Bathija is feeling good and looking even better. Having won two awards in the Best Story category for My Name is Khan this year – at the IIFA Awards in Toronto and the Zee Cine Awards in Singapore – she’s in her best creative space, writing an English feature film.
She’s shed 38 kgs off her person and the only weight she carries around now is that of a heavyweight writer in the mercurial film business – a well-earned title. Three out of the four films she has written so far – Fanaa, Kabhie Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK) and My Name is Khan (MNIK) – hit bullseye, save for Kidnap. That is a good ratio.
The celebrated writer spoke to Firstpost about her switch from being a TV programme developer to a storyteller, and the recipe for writing a Bollywood script: Excerpts:
When and how did you decide upon screenwriting as a profession?
I was working in Sony television in developing programmes and a part of my job was dealing with a lot of writers. And there is a lot of pressure in television to produce and I was always on their case for getting a certain quality of work and I realised it was just not possible for them under such pressure. So I wondered if I was just a frustrated writer taking out my angst on them. I was being a complete bitch and I thought I should do something about it. So I started writing on weekends. It took me a few months to write the first film script, as I was more of a film person anyway. Karan Johar was very kind to read it and pass it on to Aditya Chopra and I started working for Yash Raj. Eventually, a couple of years later, Fanaa happened with Aamir Khan and Kajol in 2006.
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