Scriptwriter Anu Singh Choudhry: When her story is your story : The Tribune India

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Scriptwriter Anu Singh Choudhry: When her story is your story

In Anu Choudhry’s work, women may be victims of circumstances, but do not become fodder for gender politics

Scriptwriter Anu Singh Choudhry: When her story is your story

Anu Singh Choudhry has been part of many big-ticket projects in a short span.



Renu Sud Sinha

SHE remains a small-town girl at heart and her stories are steeped in sensibilities born out of her roots. A former journalist, translator, author, documentary maker and now a scriptwriter, Anu Singh Choudhry was born in a village in Siwan, Bihar, and raised in Ranchi. Yet, she refuses to be defined by the patriarchal society that shaped her early years. Rather, it only fed the feminist in her. And this voice reflects in all her projects.

“The story comes first but I am always conscious that women characters are not presented as victims and men’s portrayal is not judgmental, for they are equally the victims of patriarchy,” she says. In all the recent projects she has co-written — Harshad Mehta’s ‘Scoop’, Sushmita Sen-starrer ‘Aarya’ (seasons 1-3), ‘Sajini Shinde ka Viral Video’ headlined by Nimrit Kaur and ‘Shastry Viruddh Shastry’ — the women may be victims of circumstances, but do not become fodder for gender politics.

“Growing up in the Bihar of ’80s and ’90s, when girls around me would learn to cook or stitch, I was hungry for learning. My father, who wanted to be a civil engineer but could only be a contractor, encouraged us to read. He could not afford books but gave us library memberships. The urge to write or express myself came from the disconnect I felt with the world around. I was the first girl from my family to come to Delhi in 1996 for graduation. There was much resistance from the extended family, and even later, when I decided to opt for journalism,” says Anu.

The experiences at DU came in handy when she made her first web series, ‘The Good Girl Show’ (2017). Through the lives of four small-town girls living as paying guests, it explores the student and gender politics on DU campus as well as the lack of safe public spaces for women in the capital. “The last bit, sadly, has not changed at all,” says Anu, who later converted the show’s script into a novel, ‘Bhali Ladkiyaan, Buri Ladkiyaan’ (2018).

Her life lessons remain at the core of her work, whether she is writing books or scripts. “Harshad Mehta got me on board for ‘Scoop’ because of my own experiences. Crime reporting was integral and important to newsrooms as these reporters brought the most read or clicked stories,” says Anu, who was part of the writers’ room for the much-awarded OTT series, including the Filmfare OTT Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (Series).

Starting her screen-writing journey with ‘Grahan’, an adaptation of Hindi novel ‘Chaurasi’, Anu has been part of many big-ticket projects in a short span. “My humble background keeps me grounded, a reminder that success is transient. My parents and in-laws still don’t comprehend what I do. Even now a DP in a sleeveless blouse can unsettle them. I feel grateful that I am getting to do what I want, working with directors I admire,” she says.

Her next big project, ‘Mrs’, Hindi adaptation of the critically-acclaimed Malayalam film ‘The Great Indian Kitchen’, is set to release this year. “This is a film that needs to be seen not just in Hindi but various languages. Its universal appeal and simple but poignant storytelling prompted me to take up the challenge.” The film had its world premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in November last year.

Currently, she is leading the writers’ room for developing a crime show of a different kind “where not a single gunshot is fired”.

“I have also finished writing a film on a mother’s inner journey. Based on my memoir, ‘Mamma ki Diary”, it is essentially a relationship drama. There’s also a novel, a contemporary love story, set to publish this year,” says the prolific writer, who wants to bring family dramas back in contention because “we don’t tell enough stories from the point of view of families. For Indians, family is the root cause of all conflicts and if we raise secure families, we would have a secure society”. 

#Bihar


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