This story is based on true events. So there I am, shuffling in a cushioned chair before the mahagony desk of a film corporate baron. Award trophies crowd the shelves. Salt-and-pepper-haired, just like myself, the baron’s powder-blue shirt is buttoned-up over fashionable stressed jeans. “Will you have chai or coffee?” he asks. Cut to the instant machine-brewed mug of cappuccino, which throws up steam on yet another afternoon in Cinema Paradiso.
The new game in town—or negotiations, if you prefer the word—is to pitch.
Go armed with the concept, the story idea and, more importantly, the intended star cast. Maybe the corporate will smile, flashing his pearlies; maybe he won’t.
I’m carrying a detailed script of Rutba, a sequel to Zubeidaa (2001), which I had written for Shyam Benegal. The decision-making corporate is mildly interested. “Who will be the actors?” he quizzes me, brows knitted. “As you know, everything depends on that.” I tell him I have to get around...