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Cinestaan script contest: Sejal Pachisia from San Francisco wins grand prize of Rs25 lakh

The names of the five winners were announced on television and online by jury members Anjum Rajabali, Rajkumar Hirani, Juhi Chaturvedi and Aamir Khan.

Our Correspondent

Sejal Pachisia from San Francisco in California, USA, has won the grand prize of Rs25 lakh in the second edition of the Cinestaan India’s Storytellers Contest.

Pachisia’s script, On The Boundary, got a unanimous thumbs up from the jury chaired by veteran scriptwriter and teacher Anjum Rajabali and comprising actor-filmmaker Aamir Khan, writer-director-editor Rajkumar Hirani and screenwriter Juhi Chaturvedi.

The names of the five winners of India's biggest script contest, supported by the Screen Writers' Association (SWA), were announced on the CNN-IBN television channel and on social media by Rajabali and his co-jurors.

Digant Patil from Satara in Maharashtra won the second prize, which carries a cash award of Rs10 lakh, for his story titled Guilt.

The third prize went to Soumil Shukla from Mumbai for his script Laakh Maavla while the fourth prize was won by Anubhav Chopra, also from Mumbai, for the story titled Phurrr. Shukla wins Rs7 lakh while Chopra will get an award of Rs5 lakh.

Neetha Syam from Coventry, Warwickshire, Britain, won the fifth prize of Rs3 lakh for her script Footprints On Water.

Congratulating the winners, Aamir Khan urged all the other nearly 3,000 applicants “who did not make it to the Top 5" not to get discouraged. "Scriptwriters should continue writing with more enthusiasm, especially in these times," the superstar said. "Every filmmaker needs a good script.”

Speaking about the success of the second edition of the contest, Rohit Khattar, chairman of Cinestaan Digital Pvt Ltd, said, “I am grateful to our esteemed jury for working with us to bring Indian storytelling talent to the forefront, especially during these surreal times." Khattar wished the winners success and also thanked all those who had applied, describing the work submitted as "stellar".

Rajabali also said the calibre of scripts received in the second edition of the contest was better and "it is heartening to see that the talent is developing". He thanked his co-jurors for making the time to read and assess the entries. He also appreciated the hard work and the generosity of the Cinestaan team.

Chaturvedi said, “As I writer, I understand the joy of being appreciated, especially on a big platform like this, which motivates us to write more." Congratulating the winners, she said she was happy to have been "a small part of your journey".

Writer-director-editor Rajkumar Hirani said he was happy to see the contest had inspired scriptwriters and given them a platform to send in their scripts from all parts of the country. "Slowly and steadily we are moving towards our goal," he noted and hoped that he would be able to meet and work with at least some of the winners some day.