Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Don’t Mind Luv Storys?

By Anant Mathur (June 27, 2010)

After the debacle of the last big budget Ash Cow (oops! Cash Cow) Raavan, all eyes are now on the Karan Johar produced I Hate Luv Storys.

One can’t help wonder about the title of this film. Not only that it’s spelled wrong because by god it makes a lot more marketing sense, since no one would want to see “I Hate Love Stories”, where’s the fun in that – But one also suspects that the title doesn’t go with the film. I’m fairly certain, as with most Bollywood Lacklusters these days, at the climax of this film, the hero ends up liking Luv Storys - so why this title?

Calling it “I Don’t Mind Luv Storys” or “How I Learned to Like Luv Storys” might make more sense. And if the hero still hates Luv Storys by the time the curtain falls, then what was the point of making such a film in the first place? It just means the character ends up right where he started and the audience is gypped yet again, big surprise!

From what little I have seen of the promos, the film doesn’t seem all that interesting and barring a few Karan Johar style puns and gay jokes, it’s likely not very entertaining either. I feel sorry for the actors whose time and hard work is wasted on such films. They need to say no to such scripts even if it is a Karan Johar film.

Well, here’s hoping I am wrong and that the film is entertaining regardless of the title so the struggling industry can get some more money into the pockets of Karan Johar and UTV who really need it more than any other person in this world.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tip # 2: Research

By Anant Mathur (June 18, 2010)

When we watch films, the most noticeable thing about them is the performance. A great performance can make you believe that the people you’re watching are real. On the other hand, a bad one could ruin the entire experience. It makes you wonder how these people were even hired for the parts.

The first thing actors and writers need to do when they start a film is research. Research doesn’t mean that you come up with a look for your character. A believable character is someone who the audience grows attached to. But a character is only believable if you get the nuances right.

If you’re going to play Hitler you need to learn how the man behaved, what he believed, basically you’re trying to be him. You don’t become Adolph Hitler by putting on a Hitler costume a lot of research has to go into the part so you can be believable. Similarly, if you’re playing a police officer, don’t just wear the uniform; learn the behaviors, attitudes and responsibilities of an officer. Police officers go through rigorous training to be the men they are, a writer and actor should know all these details to help them create a convincing character on screen. Speak to police officers; find out what makes them tick before you start writing or acting. Most Bollywood filmmakers forget this, and only concentrate on the look of the characters.

It’s extremely important for actors and writers to know the script inside out. Read and re-read should be the mantra. Sometime writers start a story at a certain point and by the time they reach the end, what they said at the beginning doesn’t connect with the ending - it makes one wonder if these guys ever read what they write. It’s almost as if they write the story but are too lazy to go over it again to make sure there are no loose ends. A film script should go through at least 2 or 3 rewrites before you arrive at the final version.

An actor should understand the character and how he/she has evolved throughout the story. Make notes. Write a bio for the character based on the script. Treat the character as if he/she is a real person. This will give you the ability to perform the role with confidence.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Student Video of Super Mario

By Anant Mathur (June 12, 2010)

A team of students in Japan created this amazing stop-motion video based on the Nintendo game Super Mario Bros. Mario is made of pastel Post-It notes and moves around the school, leaping down stairs and up the classroom walls, avoiding turtles and collecting coins.

While not much is known in the U.S. about the project, according to the blog Tokyo Mango, the video is gaining international buzz. The whiz kids took two weeks and 5,000 Yen (about $55) to create their 1 ½ minute masterpiece for the annual school festival bunkasai.

Take a look. (Watch the left side of the screen to see Mario emerge from the recycling bin.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tip # 18: Character Development

By Anant Mathur (June 11, 2010)

I have often written about Character Development or lack there of in Hindi films. Changing an actor's look (giving him a beard or changing her hairstyle) doesn't mean he/she has become the character - there's more to it than that. I would like to elaborate further on the subject in this post.

Character Development is the gradual revelation of information about a character that the audience needs to know in order to understand the character’s motivations and intent.


It is very important to be realistic when developing a character for fiction. Look and learn from the environment around you. Watch how a bum on the street behaves or what a bus driver does, how a bartender serves alcohol, or how a taxi driver drives his cab. Each one of these people do things differently – heck, even two cabbies would drive a taxi differently.


When you’re a screenwriter it’s vital to have access to references. Today, the easiest way to do research is by going online – but whether it's books, internet, television, movies, music, your gym teacher or even your uncle Joe - anything could inspire you to develop a character.

I personally like to keep the latest Psychology text handy. Perhaps the most import aspect of developing a character is his/her emotional state. If the lead character is a drunkard, there are certain things this person will or won’t do based on his mental state. So, it becomes very important to understand how a drunkard feels and acts.

Another question that may need to be answered: Is he addicted to alcohol or just a one time drunk? An addict may have several reasons or a back story which may explain to us why he is in that emotional state. The best way to learn about this type of behaviour – aside from getting drunk yourself or having a drunkard in the family – is to take a look at a Psychology text book. A Psychology text will allow you to see the behaviour patterns of a person affected by alcoholism and other such diseases which will help you create a suitable character for your story.


Before writing a screenplay or story, it is very import to know your character. The first thing you should do is create a character profile.

On a piece of paper, write down the character’s Name, Age, Height, Eye color, Hair color. Also jot down these 3 questions: What is the major goal of this character? Why is this goal so important? Do any events in the characters past affect the importance of this goal? Lastly, explain your character’s life till now, situation with family, his motivations, his pet peeves - anything that you feel defines this character.

A few of things you write about your character may not be part of the final screenplay, but it is important to jot everything down, they will help you define the character’s personality and although the words may not be in the screenplay the spirit of the character will be based on them.


All of us are greatly influenced by our relationships. How is this character’s relationship with his family members? Are there certain values or behaviors the character has inherited from them? Is he rebelling against them? Let’s say there are two actors one’s father supported and encouraged him and the other’s father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor, obviously both of them would’ve had different relationships with their families.

Does he have a funny sounding name or a funny nickname? If his friends call him “Mutt” it gives him a totally different persona than if they call him “Stinky.” Some people are embarrassed by their names or nick names, how does you character feel about his?

What does he do everyday? Unless you have a really boring script, chances are your character does something everyday. For example he goes to work, attends meetings, has lunch with co-workers, lands a new account or saves an old one. You should know what his schedule is so you can plan your story around it – perhaps terrorist take over the building, but is it while he’s in a meeting or eating lunch or having a cup of coffee – it’s important to know where he might be so you can write the next scene.

What are his pet peeves? A pet peeve could tell a lot about a character. Perhaps he gets irritated whenever he sees people who drive while talking on cell phones or while eating. This could reveal that he believes in driving safety.

Does your character have any bad habits? Is he addicted to anything other than alcohol? Perhaps he drives around and smashes up shops when no one is around. Perhaps he eats too many potato chips.

All stories involve some kind of complication(s) the character must overcome. Most of the time it’s the character's traits and personality that pull him through and show what he’s made of. Jett Rink becomes an oil tycoon in Giant because of his hard work and patience; he was dealt a certain hand and made the best of the opportunity. What’s your character's biggest strength?


There are many aspects of character development and your character could be as deep as someone you know in real life. These basic principles will guide you in strengthening your characters and coming up with a great story/screenplay.

Some writers like to go into even more detail than what I have mentioned above. If you would like to learn more about character development, I suggest you check out the following books:

Writer's Guide to Character Traits - Linda N. Edelstein, PH.D.
Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time - Jordan E. Rosenfeld
Story Structure Architect – Victoria Lynn Schmidt, PH.D.
Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint - Nancy Kress
Psychology (9th Edition) - David G. Myers
The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1 - William James
Psychology: Concepts and Applications - Jeffrey S. Nevid

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Amazing Wedding Proposal

I came across this video recently and I think it's easily one of the coolest wedding proposals ever! See for yourself.

An amazingly orchestrated wedding proposal that I caught live in Madison Square Park. After the surprise production number in the park for this girl, they rode off in a horse drawn carriage. In the dance the slip of paper the guys are waving around is a poloroid. The song the guys dance to was "their song."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tip # 6: Acting

By Anant Mathur (June 05, 2010)

There are two parts to every scene in a film – the foreground and the background. Though most actors perform when they’re in the foreground, it’s a totally different story when they’re part of the background. It’s something I’ve always found lacking in bollywood films - when the lead actors of a film are in the background of a scene they’re just standing around, and most of them don’t do anything.

The job of every actor is to act even if they’re not the focus of the scene, so if you just stand around you’re not doing your job.

For example, in a scene: You’re at a party and the focus is a couple dancing on the dance floor, but you’re standing among many people behind them, well don’t just stand there and watch. Instead, maybe talk to some next to you or walk over and shake somebody’s hand as if you’ve just noticed them arrive. Your director will love you for it!

One thing actors should always remember is the best place to learn is the environment around them. We live each day in a scene, there are other people around us all the time, we speak to some of them - that’s dialogue! Sometimes someone else is the center of attention and we’re in the background but we’re doing something not just standing around.

Let’s take another example, if your child is doing something funny, you don’t just stand their watching him - your expression changes or you might react with a certain emotion if he falls or throws something. That’s how acting is! You’re not just standing around with one expression on your face; you’re reacting to the situation around you. Not only does that make you a better actor, it also makes the scene come alive.

Your most important lessons won’t come from the acting classrooms; they will come from your life. The wider the range of your experience, the more you can draw from when you perform. Learn all you can about psychology, sports, movies, history, arts, music, science, etc. Each field will help you develop as a person. Do different jobs; work at a gas station, pharmacy, factory, stock exchange, lawyer’s office, restaurant, doctor’s office, government organization, Wal-Mart, radio station, etc.

The best way to learn is by watching people in your daily life. Everyone reacts differently to the situations they find themselves in. If two people are ordering coffee chances are they won’t do it the exact same way. And if the coffee shop is out of coffee they won’t react the same way, one might get angry; the other could simply go to another shop. People don’t do things the way you do, that’s how your characters are, they’re not you, you’re playing someone else, and so they need to be as different from you as possible.

An old man’s walk is different from a young man or a nerd. A child might walk the same way as his father or grandfather does – perhaps the three of them walk with their hands behind their back. There are certain words some people will never say, it’s the same with characters – the vocabulary is unique for each individual – a cop won’t talk the same way a businessman or politician and the language may differ by region as well.

What you should do is keep a notebook with you and write down dialogue, mannerisms, and interesting situations you see in your daily life. It would also help if you travel and meet people from different cultures. How do people eat in Africa? What does it feel like to be on top of the Eiffel Tower? How does it feel to ride a horse on a race track?

Do something you’ve never done before, such as bungee jumping, repairing a computer, running a marathon. Take a risk. Lose in love. Win in Love. Travel alone. Travel with friends. Travel with family. All this experience will only help you in growing as an actor. Remember: All knowledge is learning and therefore, good.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Kites not flying with audience!

By Anant Mathur (June 05, 2010)

After collecting approx. 30.5 crores in its opening weekend "Kites" has crashed big time. It's expected the first weeks collections will be around 37-39 crores in the first week. Total collections for "Kites" are expected to be around 45 crores.