Article Hindi

Narration is a diagnostic tool, way to build your confidence: Shridhar Raghavan

At the 49th International Film Festival of India, filmmakers Shridhar and Sriram discuss how narrating scripts helps gauge when the attention is dipping.

Sriram and Shridhar Raghavan at IFFI 2018. Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Blessy Chettiar

Filmmaker brothers Sriram and Shridhar Raghavan displayed a camaraderie that most siblings would be envious of during a session at the ongoing 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2018, in Panaji, Goa. The brothers stressed on the need for narrating scripts to gauge the reaction of the listener. 

"Each time I narrate, it helps me. Of course, you need a version of the script for production and logistics. But I prefer narrating to actors and the other HoDs [heads of departments], simply because you get a sense of where the attention is dipping," said Sriram, who has directed Johnny Gaddaar (2007), Agent Vinod (2012), Badlapur (2015) and the recent Andhadhun (2018). 

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Shridhar is the screenwriter of Hindi films like Khakee (2004), Apaharan (2005), Bluffmaster! (2005), Dum Maaro Dum (2011) and Tamil film Yennai Arindhaal (2015).

"In our business of writers, there is a lot of fear for the narration process, and sometimes also a lot of anger. People feel they read my material and not hear it. They think hearing is an alien thing for some reason. Hearing is not alien at all. It is part of the oral tradition, you’re telling a story. You have to engage somebody," said Shridhar.

Listing out the advantages of narration, Shridhar said, "When you’re narrating a scene which is on paper, with clever words and language you can make a transition which actually is not organic. When you’re narrating it, if a part of your brain is not convinced by it, you will pause. You will realize from the opposite reaction, their body language that ‘hell, I’m going nowhere’. Narration is a diagnostic tool, a way to build your own confidence."

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Shridhar revealed that both of them stammered as young boys. "We couldn’t say our own names. For us coming to a business where narration is important was hilarious because we couldn’t talk. But it’s an exercise. It’s actually a great tool. If I get a chance to narrate a script, I get a chance to gauge a reaction."

He encouraged young writers to use their laptop webcams to narrate to themselves and check where they pause. "You can make out where you haven’t cracked the story. I always ask my students to do a brief acting workshop for 5-6 days. What the actor is doing on the stage, the writer is doing on the page. It helps you to break out, become other people. Things like these will improve your narrating skills, and of course, your writing."

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While mentioning that Andhadhun was a difficult film to narrate, Sriram shared an anecdote that while narrating Johnny Gaddaar to Rimi Sen, he could see her contain her yawning two-three times. However, both the brothers unanimously agreed that reading out a script is "torture".

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