Some months ago, a journalist received a call from a well-known Bollywood director inquiring about a story she had done. It was the profile of a lady who was a drug lord and controlled the supply of the meow meow (meth) drug in Mumbai and Goa. This director was keen on making a film on this lady and wanted the journalist to write the screenplay. Though she declined the offer, he continues to call her, upping his offer with every call. Even as this director was trying to negotiate with her, two other directors too wanted the rights of that story. All three continue to pursue her for the drug lady’s story.
Bollywood, one of the largest cinema industries in the world, has been hit by a lack of quality content. The Hindi film industry is so hard hit that producers and directors are desperately looking for writers with newer perspectives and stories. Some are hosting writers’ hubs, where new writers are trained to write stories and screenplays. The ones that stand out will be used as the story base for feature films. A cross-section of people working in the film industry told Outlook that it is the emergence of streaming platforms that has led to this dearth of writers for Hindi films. “Presently, Bollywood is going through an existential crisis at various levels,” film director Vikas Chandra tells Outlook. “The biggest challenge is finding good stories for the films.”