Thursday, May 29, 2008

What is a ScreenPlay

Imagine your life. Everything is going on fine, and you are happy about it. You are enjoying your life. Suddenly, something happens which twists your life exactly the opposite and you are in a very serious crisis. You don’t know what to do to come out of that problem. Every time you try to come out, you are getting more and deeper in to it. Finally, some incidents start happening and then you come out safely or you lose something and perish.

Now, imagine this is running on a screen in front of you. This makes a good movie. The situation I gave in the first paragraph is what an ideal screenplay must be like.

What is a Screenplay? How should a screenplay be?

This question has haunted many filmmakers in the past. We know that a good film must have a good story, and the story should be believable by the viewers. If the story becomes unbelievable and if the focus is lost, then the film becomes a flop. But, how can we determine a story will be logical and whether it will be taken by the people or not? The concept of the screenplay comes exactly in to the picture at this juncture.

A screenplay is a story told in pictures. It is something which presents the story such that the viewers are able to blend with the story. A lot of research went in this field, and what is now considered to be the screenplay format, has been developed from those studies.

Syd Field, an authority in screenplays, suggests that a screenplay must have three definite parts; what he calls as the three act structure: The beginning (setup), the middle (confrontation) and the end (resolution).

The first part, the beginning, introduces all the characters in a story, shows their relationships. The second part focuses about the confrontations between these characters and finally the third part offers the resolution.

In the first part, while it ends, an incident happens which spins the story towards the second part, the confrontation. This incident is called Plot point 1. For example, imagine an incident happening in your calm life which makes you to panic, towards how to resolve it. The start of the incident or the sequence which takes you to this incident is called the plot point. It leads the story directly in to the second part, the confrontation. Like wise, near the end of the second part, some incident happens which turns the story directly to the third part, the resolution. This is called the plot point 2.

A screenplay must have the beginning, the plot point 1, the middle, the plot point 2 and the end. Before ever opening the pen (or rather, before typing in a single character), these five elements must be known, in order to write the screenplay.

Once these are known, then the scene building process takes place. One after the another, the scenes are written, towards how the story begins, how the plot point 1 occurs, how it takes the story towards the confrontation state, the plot point 2 and then how it ends. If this process is followed, then a successful screenplay is written.

Also, the first part must be within 30 pages. The second part, 60 and the third part is 30 pages long. The entire screenplay must be contained within 120 pages. Usually, a page in a screenplay takes a minute in the screen. So it accounts for 120 minutes of the film. That’s about 2 hours.

This is the art of screenplay. These things must be taken into account to write a gripping screenplay. Like painting, like cycling, like music, it’s an art by itself, and which must be practiced well, to attain perfection.

Some of the well known experts in screenplays: Robert Towne (Chinatown, MI 1&2), James Cameron (Aliens, Terminator 1 & 2), David Koepp (Jurassic Park) , Michael Mann (Heat), Quentin Tarentino (Pulp Fiction), Ted Tally (Silence of the Lambs).

Click on the film names here, to see and download the screenplays.

See their movies, read these screenplays and feel their genius!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

ScreenPlay : an Example

A sample screenplay. The way a screenplay has to be.

I'll tell about the name of the movie at the end. If you read it, you can easily find
it out.

ScreenPlay by David Koepp

Tim stares out the back window of the Explorer with Grant and
Malcolm in it, behind them.  The image is bright fluorescent green.
        Oh, cool!  Night vision!
As Tim watches, the door of the rear Explorer opens, and a hand
reaches out, holding an empty canteen out to catch some rain water.
Grant pulls the canteen back in, closes the door, and takes a
drink.  He and Malcolm wait.
Tim continues to stare out of the back window with the goggles.
He swings his legs - - but suddenly stops.  He feels something.  He
pulls off the goggles and turns back.  He moves into the back seat with
Lex who is tapping her hat, and reaches forward to still her hand.
        Did you feel that?
        Can you feel that?
She don't answer.
Tim leans over to the front passenger seat and looks at the two
plastic cups of water that sit in the recessed holes on the dashboard.
As he watches, the water in the glasses vibrates, making concentric
circles - -
- - then it stops - -
- - and then it vibrates again.  Rhythmically.
Like from footsteps.
               (not entirely convinced)
        What is that?  M-Maybe it's the power trying to come
        back on.
Tim jumps into the back seat and puts the goggles on again.
        What is that?
        What is what?
Tim turns and looks out the side window.  He can see the area
where the goat is tethered.  Or was tethered.  The chain is still
there, but the goat is gone.
They all jump, and Lex SCREAMS as something hits the Plexiglas
sunroof of the Explorer, hard.  They look up.
It's a bloody, disembodied goat leg.
        Oh, Jesus.  Jesus.
Tim whips around to look out the side window again.  His mouth
pops open, but no sound comes out.  Through the goggles, he sees an
animal claw, a huge one, gripping the cables of the "electrified"
Tim whips the goggles off and presses forward, against the
window.  He looks up, up, than cranes his head back further, to look
out the sunroof.  Past the goat's leg, he can see - -
- - Tyrannosaurus rex.  It stands maybe twenty-five feet high,
forty feet long from nose to tail, with an enormous, boxlike head that
must be five feet long by itself.  The remains of the goat hang out of
the rex's mouth.  It tilts its head back and swallows the animal in one
big gulp.
Gennaro can't even speak.  His hand claws for the door handle,
he shoulders it open, and takes off, out of the car.
               (freaking out)
        He left us!  He left us alone!  Dr. Grant!  Dr. Grant!
        He left us!  He left us!

This is how a screenplay must be presented. The reader must be able to visualize the
scene in his mind. See how the 'Boom Boom Boom' enables you to visualize it.

This example is given by Syd Field, the authority in screenplay writing,
in his book "ScreenPlay".

I'll post more about screenplays shortly.
But first take a look at this sample screenPlay from JURASSIC PARK !!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mummy 3 - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor !

The Mummy 3 Poster ! Access the home page here. Slated to be released on Aug 1, 2008 !

The teaser Trailer has arrived !! see it here.

See the High Definition trailer here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A saint called Abhayanandha

What will you do if a complete stranger came to you and said, “You were not born for this purpose . . . Your lifetime purpose is different. Leave your job and go to Kasi, where someone will guide you to your mission”?

I’m sure you’ll give him a ‘yet-another-jackass-on-the-move’ look and go away. But, someone listened to this, left his job, went to Kasi, went on to become a great saint, built a famous temple, performed miracles and then left the world with fame and respect. That person is Swami Abhayanandha.

Swami Abhayanandha was born as Venkata Kuppaiya, in the later part of the 19th century. He was a ranger by profession, and was in charge of the Anaimalai hills, Pollachi. It so happened that one night, he was patrolling around, in Anaimalai, and he lost his track. He was moving inside the forest in search of the route and suddenly was encountered by a hugely built man, black all over. That man said the above given words to the young Venkata, and then showed him the way and disappeared. Venkata found the right route and then, headed to Kasi, the holy city, as soon as he can, without once doubting the words of the black man. At Kasi, he was encountered by a sage, and became his disciple. After some years there, Venkata became Swami Abhayanandha, meaning ‘the one who has no fears, and offers shelter to everyone’.

Abhayanandha came back to Coimbatore. He built a temple nearby his house, for the goddess Soolini Durgamba. He also placed a Shivalinga, which he took from Kasi, in the temple. Also placed was a small idol of Subhramanya. The temple was built in the early few years of the twentieth century.

The temple soon became very famous, due to the miracles performed by Abhayanandha. He used to drive out demons which affected people, and which took over the people’s bodies. Also, he used to bless his devotees, foresee the future, drive out diseases. It’s a famous story, told even now; that as soon as a person turns the street corner where the temple is situated, Abhayanandha would tell to the people around him that such and such person is coming, for such purpose, to meet him. It will turn out exactly as he predicted, and he will give a smile, in return!

Swami Abhayanandha, thus spread the glory of Mother Soolini Durgamba (otherwise called as Raja Rajeswari), throughout his lifetime. Many devotees were thrilled to see Abhayanandha performing the Yajna or havan during the Navaratri days, to the goddess. Thus, after having lived a complete life and serving the god, he attained the lotus feet of mother Durga, during the 1940s.

The temple he built is still there, in Coimbatore. It’s around 100 years old, and still it is a very powerful one. There is a huge photograph of Swami Abhayanandha in the temple, along with the paduka he used. During the festive times, the Pooja is performed in an elaborative, pleasing manner.

The temple can be reached at:

Sri Raja Rajeswari temple,

652 a, Telugu Brahmin Street,

Coimbatore – 641 001.

Phone:- 0422 2348700.

PS:- The Swami Abhayanandha whom I was mentioning all through the post is none other than my great paternal grandfather (kollu thatha).

'Adjust Maadi' - what did u say ?

‘Sir… konjam adjust maadi’. .

‘Sir... Konjam adjust pannunga’

‘Light a thalli ukkarunga’

How many times we‘ve heard these phrases in our life? Infinite times, right? Every human being in India has taken these lines as his/her own motto of life. If we go to a ‘swami’ or a sage seeking blessings, I’m sure he’ll preach these lines straight in to our ears, as his most valid blessing. Everyone is asking the other(s) to adjust, every time. Imagine going in a train. We are sitting comfortably in a reserved seat, and in comes a middle aged couple, searching with their eyes on both sides as soon as they step in to the cabin. We start to sit tight, anticipating what they are about to ask. They come straight to you, and the uncle asks: “Sir, konjam adjust pannunga... Wife ukkaranum’... And, the ‘adjustable’ wife stands there, posing like a maharani, looking elsewhere, as if she is certain that the place will be granted. And, then, out of sheer frustration and embarrassment, we move a bit and allow the lady to sit. After some time, the lady starts to push us, and ultimately, she is the one sitting comfortably and we, sticking our butt to the seat feebly, to fall down any time.

This happens most of the times while we travel, in buses or in train. Seems all of us are considering our fellow passengers like gods, almost ready to forget and forgive every time and ready to give us a seat, as if their life time motto is to ‘give Suppandi his seat and place him comfortably’.

Why do we have to adjust every time in this country? Seems everywhere we go, adjustment seems our #1 mission... Adjust this… Adjust that.. And, if we try to defend our basic rights by denying the adjustment, suddenly all of the people jump on us as if we have done some sacrilege, and we get a lot of advices like “konjam adjust panna dhan enna?’ or ‘yov.. thalluyya.. summa vanduttan pesittu’. People think that they have every right to barge in to other’s private space, in the context of ‘Adjust maadi’.

So, fellow citizens !! Always remember . . Take ‘Adjust maadi’ as your life time motto, and keep adjusting always, like the famous innerwear ad they show on TV.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Srinivasan Sei Intha Vishnuthaasan thaan !!

Ettil Ainthu En Kazhiyum Endrum Ainthil Ettu En Kazhiyathu
Ashta Aksharam erkum Nenju Panja aksharam Paarkathu !!
Verasaivargal Munnal Engal Veeravainavam Thorkathu
Mannan Solluku Anji Enrum Merke Sooriyan Udikkathu
Raja Lakshmi Naayagan Srinivasanthaan
Srinivasan Sei Intha Vishnuthaasanthaan
Naattil Undu Aayiram Rajaraajar Thaan
Rajanukku Raajan Intha Rangaraajan Thaan !!
Well, try to get a deep meaning of these lyrics, for, they are gonna be very popular soon. Let Dasavatharam get released and then every TV will telecast this song. This song, ‘kallai mattum kandal’ has real good lyrics, and the filming has been excellent. I was impressed the first time I heard it, and then I took a look at the lyrics, and immediately, a deep urge started to peck me up, to write this post. Here I am.
This scenario of this song is like, a vaishnavite (worshippers of lord Vishnu) is forced to take up Saivism (Follower’s of lord Shiva), and he refuses. As a result, the king orders him to be thrown in to the sea, tied up with the big idol of Vishnu. As far as I saw the clippings, this is the scenario.
This story is happening in an old era, the period when Saivam & Vaishnavam ruled Tamil Nadu. Now, let’s take a closer look at the ancient Tamil Nadu and the culture existed. The earliest known Tamil work is Tolkaappiyam. Its period dates back to almost 8000 BC by some scholars, and some say it’s around the earliest years of the Christian era. But, it has many Sanskrit words, from which it becomes evident that the age is a very earliest one. We’ll discuss about this in another topic .
Anyhow, during the earliest known years of Tamil Nadu, it was under the clutch of Buddhism and Jainism. Saivam & Vaishnavam were sidelined by these religions, and most kings embraced either one of these religions. The earliest known Tamil dynasty, with proofs of its existence is the Pallava clan. The date: around 4th century AD. The famous known Pallava kings were Mahendra Varma & Narasimha Varma, father and son. It’s a well known fact that Mahendra Varma, a converted Jain, forced Appar (Thirunaavukkarasar) to die, as Appar got converted from Jainism to Saivism. He made Appar to be dreaded over by en elephant, threw him in to the sea, tied to a rock. But, finally, having seen Appar not affected by any of these, Mahendra Varma embraced Saivism. There is no historical proof about the miracles happening to Appar, but history distinctively states that Mahendra Varma got converted to a Saiva, during his tenure. These miracles are given in Thevaram, a holy book of hymns about lord Shiva.
The reason I’m stating all these, is that, in the ancient Tamil Nadu, there were rigorous disputes between religions. Initially it was between either Jainism & Saivism or Buddhism & Saivism. Later, after Aadhi Sankara expelled Buddhism & Jainism from the country, the disputes started between Saivam & Vaishnavam. There were great devotees from both the groups, and sometimes, the disputes were also common.
This song portrays such a dispute, where the Saiva king orders a Vaishnavite to be thrown in to the sea tied with the statue of Ranganatha. There is a slightest realistic proof in reality for such an incident. In this song, it comes as “Mannuga Thillai Valarga Nam Bakththargal [Found in thiruppallandu – sendhanar]”. Also, there is one line stating 'Thollai Thanthabothum Engal Thillai Maarathu', where there is reference to Thillai (Chitambaram – a major shiva shrine). Now, this thillai also has a Vishnu temple. Vishnu resides there as Govindaraja. Once, the famous Chola king Kulothunga Chozha removed the Vishnu idol from the temple, for renovating the temple. But this was taken as persuation by the vaishnavites, and it caused a problem, but all went well, due to the power the king had. Later, the idol was reinstated. Another version also exists, that the king threw the Vishnu idol in to the sea. It seems evident from the lyrics that this version is followed in the film.
The slow murmured humming of hymns from the Thevaram & Prabandham adds beauty to this song. Kamal has beautifully blended both Thevaram & Prabhandam hymns here (Thevaram - Mannuga Thillai Valarga Nam Bakththargal, Vanjjagar Poy Agala; Ponnin Sey Mandabaththu Ulle Pugundhu, Buvani Ellam Vilangga. Prabandham - Pallandu Pallandu Pallayirathandu, Pala Kodi Nurayiram;Mallanda Thin Thole Manivanna, Nin Sevadi Sevvi Thiruk Kappu). It adds a mystic effect, as if we are standing there, witnessing the song. As I was hearing it, I was really attracted towards the lyrics and the tune. Great work by Vaali & I’m sure Kamal’s influence was a major part in the music, as one cannot even imagine Himesh to give such a tune, even in the wildest of one’s nightmares (??!!).
This song has a haunting effect, with memoirs reaching back to the saiva-vaishnava connection, the problems and everything, combined together with the magnanimous filming of Kamal being thrown in to the ocean. WOW!!
Dasavatharam - Come what may, we are waiting for U !!!!!!

Complete Lyrics of the song: (See the comments section for the translation)
Om Namo Narayanaaaaaya..
Kallai Mattum Kandal Kadavul Theriyathu,
Kadavul Mattum Kandal Kalladi Theriyathu.. (2)

Ettil Ainthu En Kazhiyum Endrum, Ainthil Ettu Aaen Kazhiyathu
Ashta Aksharam Aerkum Nenju Panjaraaksharam Paarkathu
Voonak Kannil Paataal Yaavum Kutramthaan
Nyanak Kannil Paataal Yaarum Suttamthaan

Mannuga Thillai Valarga Nam Baththargal, Vanjjagar Poy Agala,
Ponnin Sey Mandabaththu Ulle Pugundhu, Buvani Ellam Vilangga,

Pallandu Pallandu Pallayirathandu, Pala Kodi Nurayiram,
Mallanda Thin Thole Manivanna, Nin Sevadi Sevvi Thiruk Kappu

Illai Endru Sonna Pinbum Indriamaiyathu
Thollai Thanthabothum Engal Thillai Maarathu (2)
Verasaivargal Munnal Engal Veeravainavam Thorkathu
Mannan Solluku Anji Enrum Maerkae Sooriyan Udikkathu
Raaja Lakshmi Naayagan Srinivasanthaan
Srinivasan Sei Intha Vishnuthaasanthaan
Naatil Undu Aayiram Rajaraajar Thaan
Rajanukku Raajan Intha Rangaraajan Thaan

Neerukullae Mooikhinalum Neethi Saagathu
Nenjukullae Vaazhum Engal Jothi Saagathu (2)
Veesum Kaatru Vanthu Vilakanaikum
Vennilavai Aathu Anaithiduma
Kottum Vaanmazhai Nilam Nanaikum
Antha Vaanam Thannai Aathu Aanaithiduma
Saivam Endru Paarthaal Theivam Theriyathu
Theivam Endru Paarthaal Samayam Kidaiyathu..
(Kallai Mattum..)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Travellin' in buses - the queer factor

It’s over. The vacation I was enjoying in Coimbatore for the past 4 days. I started from Chennai on 30th apr night at 8:00 PM, and I (finally) reached Cbe on 1st morning 10:00 AM – a total of 14 hours spent on traveling through buses. But there is no other go – I tried for train tickets way back but then they were not available. All the tickets were full and also all the buses. So, nothing to trust except the Tamilnadu government buses.

I usually enjoy a lot, traveling in the buses. I’ll sit at the last seat, just next to the conductor’s, stretching legs (nowhere can you do this inside the bus except the last seat – Rajesh). A variety of people get in to the buses. Usually, there is space when the bus starts but by the time it crosses the city, the bus becomes too full. This time also, the same happened. I was sitting in the same place, and there were 5 other people with me, sharing the last seat; all of us ‘a bit’ big (??!!) for the seat. As a result, we all were trying out numerous ways to get a hold of our space, from the neighbor. The guy to my left was sitting with folded hands, pushing me with his tight hands, and so was the guy to my right. I was like a sandwich between them. To add to it, both were closing their eyes as if they were sleeping and at the same time, applying the pressure ;). After a while, I too started to play the game, with the same rules ;) and then after some time, we all adjusted.

Jokes apart, it’s a nice thing to sit inside the bus/train and see people travel; some will be happy; some, sad; some will be talking and some will be silent; some, of course are drunk; some will comment about the movie shown (I’ve seen this movie 20 times – those were the days when…… kinda).

To add to it, there was a dispute too, in my bus. It was a huge quarrel and finally we all made them to stop it – added another flavor to the journey. It’s also a nice sight to see the bus standin' in the night. The mist, the people, the climate, the mood – everything is great. Also, the roads in the night.

Sometimes, when the bus stops for a break, that location will be like a very lonely place – no one will be there except us. In such a place, the spree of thoughts will start naturally and that empty feeling in the mind.

I like traveling in the bus. Not only for the sake of these memories but for that unknown factor – something which brings in that feeling of ‘something’ .. ;) . .

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