Hollywood's given us - "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse" - Vito Corleone in The Godfather. "See, I'm a man of simple tastes. I like dynamite, and gunpowder, and gasoline! Do you know what all of these things have in common? They're cheap!" - Joker in The Dark Knight. "There's no school like the old school and I'm the headmaster," Lenny Cole in Rock N Rolla. Now, I'm not a dialogue writer but I do believe in the saying, "You can write dialogues, or you can't". Taking that quote seriously, Bollywood's finest dialogue writer - Milap Zaveri, penned down the following lines - "Baadshah ki gali mein aakar uska pata nahi poochte. Ghulamon ke jhuke hue sir khud ba khud raasta bata dete hain," Zubair says in Shootout At Wadala. But little did he know that all that eloquent prose, grammar, poetry, a bit of gibberish and that elegant description he had spent hours working on: every audience member whistled away with glory. It's been three days since Shootout At Wadala has released and Milap Zaveri's dialogues are trending on Twitter already, which proves that making actors look good isn't about make up or dressing them well or give them a new hairdo. Oh no! It's about giving them the lines, the lines that get them the whistles, the lines that make them the cult. Be it Bhiku Mhatre from Satya, Mogambo from Mr India, Gabbar from Sholay, Joker from The Dark Knight, Tony Montana from Scarface, these iconic characters are and will be remembered through their dialogues. From hanging out at Costa, eating his heart out at Otters Club and posing away at Shootout At Wadala's success party, Milap Zaveri shares some unique and unorthodox strategies on his dialogue writing in Shootout that has resulted in the audiences going wild once again. Please whistle after each answer!!!
Whistle whistles and more whistles to you Milap. You can start now! Talk about Shootout At Wadala.
Shootout At Wadala was a period set up and dealt with gangsters. The film didn't deal with normal people. They were larger than life characters. Be it Zubair, Dilawar or Manya. I couldn't go with spoken language as far as dialogues were concerned. I had to make them sound like super heroes and villains. They are colorful people. They take in a 'shayarana' (poetry) andaaz. You don't have to be living with a gangster to understand how he talks. I had enough knowledge about them through the articles I read in the media, movies, research, etc. I was also guided superbly by Sanjay Gupta who has seen more life than me. We didn't want to make the film so real that it looked like a documentary. Shootout At Wadala had its reference points and we always wanted to make it commercial and larger than life as I said earlier.
Dialogue baazi is back, thanks to you. The last time we heard crowd going wild was during Dabangg.
I wrote dialogues for Kaante in 2001 for Sanjay Gupta. That got the same reaction like Shootout At Wadala. But back then, the multiplex cinemas were cropping up and the single screen theatres started getting neglected. Then came Dabangg after ages and took the dialogues to another level. The Dirty Picture did the same thing. Rajat Arora's dialogues packed a punch. Same with Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai. Rajat got period settings in both these movies and took it to his advantage. Shootout At Wadala isn't a Dabangg. It's got masala yet it's got some serious reality. That's the balance we had to maintain.
What was the most difficult character to write dialogues for in Shootout?
The most difficult character to write dialogues for in Shootout At Wadala was Afaque Bagran played by Anil Kapoor. He's the most real character in the film but yet I had to give him punches. He is a lot calmer. My favourite dialogue is when Anil sir tells Ronit Roy, "Chingari maachis ki dibbe mein kya qaed ho gaye, log sochne lage ki woh sirf cigarette jalane ke kaam aati hai. Humein yeh nahi bhulna chahiye ki agar chingari ko hawa lag jaaye toh woh chitaaye bhi jalati hai". It's not over the top line but makes sense too and sounds over the top. I knew that Anil sir's character hasn't abused once in the film and I maintained the dignity by not giving him one swear word.
Have you given up on directing films?
I would love to direct a film again after Jaane Kahaan Se Aaye Hai. But the biggest mistake I did was that I completely stopped writing. I gave it up. There was a six month gap before the film released and I didn't even make an effort of putting the pen on the paper. When you write more, you polish your craft. If I ever direct again, I will make sure I don't quit writing dialogues. I have also made a conscious decision of not writing screenplays any more. Now whatever writing I'll do will have to do with just dialogues. I also pull my partner Tushar Hiranandani's leg by saying, "No matter what you write in the screenplay, the whistling audiences do is for my dialogues" (laughs). Honestly, I've got a lot of support from Tushar and he is one of the best screenplay writer's we've got.
You started with Kaante for Sanjay Gupta. Wow! That's a long relationship.
(Laughs) The kind of cinema Sanjay Gupta makes suits me I guess. When my younger brother saw Shootout At Wadala, he said, "Just write dialogues for Sanjay Gupta now." This is my sixth film with him. He has adopted me when I was twenty one. Now I am his family. Not to forget, this is my first Balaji film too. Ekta too had a lot to do with me coming on board and I thank her for that from the bottom of my heart.
Which is that film that you'd love to write dialogues for and you missed out on?
If there is a film I'd give my right hand to writing dialogues for it has to be The Dirty Picture. I am a big fan of Rajat Arora and not taking away anything that he did but I would like to give it a shot to write dialogues. It was a great challenge to write for a woman. I hope in the future I get to do something similar.
How did the screenplay of Shootout At Wadala sound like when you first received it?
I got the screenplay of Shootout At Wadala with minimum dialogues and lots of situations. It was an intense screenplay with information overload because of the book and the research Gupta's team had done. It gave me a chance to run wild with the scenes.
Did you read the book Dongri to Dubai before embarking on your dialogue spree?
I haven't read the book 'Dongri to Dubai'. I purposely do that. Even when Kaante was made and was inspired from Reservoir Dogs, I had not seen it when I started writing the dialogues. I want to bring something new to the table and not get stuck up or compete with what had already been heard of written about. I want to give my interpretation. And even if I had gone off track, Sanjay Gupta was there to guide me and bring me back on track.
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