The scripting painter

It was a five-year stint in the advertising industry - starting from 2005 - that first introduced painter, film screenplay and scriptwriter Gauri Bapat to the world of story-telling. While working in the marketing department of the agency, she was always intrigued by the creative one. She eventually sat down to writing on a whim two years ago. This was followed by opportunities to work was a co-writer in a couple of regional TV serials. Bapat, who, has recently completed writing the screenplay, script and dialogues for her first Marathi film Ajoba, says that the transition has been an enriching experience. For the 33-year-old Bapat, the experience was preceded by a workshop by Robert McKee, which she defines as the transition point for her to becoming a script-writer for movies, this year in January. That combined with help from Marathi film director Kranti Kanade, prepped her for the movie-writing business. While the writer in her is one side to her personality, another facet also sees her take to painting on the canvas. In fact, Bapat is currently displaying her paintings at the Darpan Art Gallery. She does maintain that it is a difficult choice to make between her writing and her painting alter-egos.

Speaking about her tryst with writing, Bapat says she started assisting Sameer Joshi on two Marathi serials initially. Ajoba, on the other hand happened completely by chance. "Sujay Dahake, the director of Shala, and I were discussing potential movie ideas last year, when his brother suggested we do something on the environment and wildlife. After brainstorming, we came across the story of a leopard, Ajoba, who was collared by wildlife biologist Vidya Athreya," she says. Eventually Bapat and Dahake zeroed in on the idea of adapting the true-life incident into a film.

Since her writing style was floral and bookish, when she sat down to write the script in February this year, she had to modify the style in accordance with the fact that Sujay (Dahake) had to visualise every scene as she wrote them. This was where the McKee's workshop techniques helped a lot, she says. "It taught me to see a movie script from the eyes of the director. One needs to learn to visualise the scene first and then put it in words so that the director is able to see the same," says Bapat. Eventually with a lot of trial and errors, the work was completed recently a month back. The film, according to her, is the first in Marathi cinema that deals with the issue of environment, wildlife conservation and man and animal conflict.

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