The Screenwriters Association (SWA) on Saturday said it will be holding talks with leading Indian studios, producers and OTT platforms next month to discuss the grievances of writers in Bollywood and regional film industries.
While writers in Hollywood had to go on a strike to press their demands earlier this year, the writer community here hopes it would not have to resort to such a step.
In a press statement, SWA -- which has about 65,000 members -- said more than 100 writers from Bollywood attended a meeting called by it on December 7. Among those present were acclaimed writers-filmmakers Sriram Raghavan, Sujoy Ghosh and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari.
“The agenda of the meeting was to share our complaints about one-sided contracts, and to work out a way to bring about a change because frustration is building up across the writers' community. Every writer who was present at the meeting complained about how contracts are unfair," Rajabali, who is also the chairperson of the contracts committee of SWA, told PTI.
Sumit Aroraa, best known for the recent blockbuster “Jawaan”, Harshvardhan Kulkarni of “Badhaai Do” fame, Sudeep Sharma of “Pataal Lok” fame, Abbas Tyrewala and Shridhar Raghavan, well-known for “Pathaan”, and many others spoke at the meeting.
According to SWA, complaints centred around how average remuneration is shrinking, credit is given at the discretion of producers, termination can be arbitrary, and how writers are forced to indemnify producers if there is a socio-political backlash to the film.
Besides, stringent agreements force writers to waive their moral rights as well as their right to receive royalty, both of which are guaranteed by the Indian copyright law, it said.
It was decided that SWA will hold meetings with the studios, producers and streaming platforms to resolve the issues.
“SWA will represent the writing community and we will begin negotiations with the studios, platforms and producers to bring about a change, to make contracts more balanced and fair. The negotiations will begin next month,” Rajabali said.
“Our work deserves its due commercial value, and the writers their dignity. To get that, we have to break the existing mindset towards our profession,” he added.
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) was in news recently for its 148-day strike that brought Hollywood to a standstill, winning the writers an important victory.
When asked if SWA will go on strike like the WGA, Rajabali said, "We are confident that it will never come to that. However, we are not going to step back, because the determination within the writing community about the need for change is solid."