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Smriti Kiran: We have been inundated with online content during the lockdown. For most of it, we are grateful; some didn’t work, of course, and the rest is material we didn’t choose to make time for. But the best kind of material is the one that creeps up on you and takes you by surprise in the best possible way. You take small swigs of it, anticipation mixed with the fear that the crazy excitement you feel will deflate; but instead, you are rewarded with consistency, brilliance, a narrative that doesn’t loosen its grip and stays with you for way too long after it is over. It co-opts you. You are suddenly a stakeholder. It is yours in a way that the artists responsible for it would like you to own it.

Hansal Mehta’s Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story did just that. It is a series no one saw coming. It didn’t follow the rules: there were no big-ticket actors in the cast; it is produced by a production house that was waiting for its breakout show; released on a platform, Sony LIV, that might not have been high on your subscription list; based on a controversial figure that everyone knows about or has heard about but popularly very little is understood about the world he operated in or how he did what he did. You expected it to be good because of Hansal Mehta. But everything else around it had you put it a tad lower on your watchlist than the choices available.

Scam released on 9th October and blew our minds. The team has not stopped giving interviews since its launch. The appreciation and accolades are consistently flowing in not only for Hansal Mehta but everyone involved with the show. It has brought back to life some artists that were not even in our consciousness. For some, our perception about them has been rewired and the dialogues have added plenty to our pop culture cache like ‘Risk hai toh ishq hai,’ Harshad’s way of addressing everyone as ‘Lala,’ and the stellar line ‘There is no common woman because women are always special.’ Itne brownie points toh kisi bhi all-male writing room ko aaj tak nahi mile honge!

The screen adaptation of Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu’s book has been attempted by many in the course of the last 27 years since its publication, but it never materialised. The journey of the series which is all the rage today began with two individuals: Director Hansal Mehta and Sameer Nair, CEO of Applause Entertainment, reading the book at different points in their lives and wanting to make it. But things only started moving in 2017 after Sameer formed Applause Entertainment, approached Hansal for Harshad Mehta’s story, who jumped at the opportunity.

It is my honour and privilege to welcome the director of Scam 1992, Hansal Mehta, and his incredible team of word and story smiths: writers Sumit Purohit and Saurav Dey and dialogue writers Vaibhav Vishal and Karan Vyas to Writer’s Block on Dial M For Films.

From the first day I started working as a journalist, I was told to never ask this question, but I’m going to break this self-imposed rule of 23 years and ask you: How are you all feeling? Did you expect this? What is this crazy success and curiosity about what you’ve created done for you?

Hansal Mehta: A lot of gratitude. It’s very humbling. In a career of almost 27 years to see this kind of unprecedented love and appreciation sort of vindicates what you stood for. It also vindicates all the mistakes you made and all that you did right, all that you did with your honesty, love and passion. It never goes to waste. It’s basically a vindication of passion, honesty, and absolutely stellar teamwork. It’s magic; it never repeats.

Sumit Purohit: I was quite surprised at how many people have seen it and the kind of audience Scam has gotten. We were discussing how many people are seeing it with their parents, so it has brought the family together. We would have never imagined something like this show—which is so technical—to have these kinds of audiences. Obviously surprised and quite happy that if you challenge the audience, they are ready to take it up. That’s very interesting.

Vaibhav Vishal: The reaction has been absolutely overwhelming. When we were working on it, we were obviously very excited considering Hansal gave us all the freedom to be and do our thing. So, we were excited about the work and about working with Hansal and this fantastic bunch of people. But I don’t think any of us had expected this extreme reaction. It’s humbling. It’s overwhelming. We are embracing happiness, believing that there’s more to come.

Smriti Kiran: Hansal, this was really complex material. You’ve said that you did not want to dumb down the material; you wanted to keep the density. It’s a complex story to tell. It’s an unfamiliar thing that you had to create. A lot of people do not know about this world. How did you go about selecting the team for this? How did you put the writer’s room together?

Hansal Mehta: Like the way I do everything: it was instinctive. I met Sumit through a common friend Pulkit, who is a director. Pulkit recommended Sumit’s name to me. He gave me his number. We met, and Sumit said he has a partner called Saurav Dey, and they’d work on it. And it was just that. All of the people I have worked with, whether it’s Rajkummar (Rao), Sumit, Saurav or Karan (Vyas), have been very instinctive decisions on my part.

“My only brief to everybody was that we have to over-deliver. If they want cake, let’s give them a bakery.”

 

I knew that Sumit and Saurav had worked on Inside Edge, and I had enjoyed it. I liked the way they had taken the inside view of the world of cricket, betting and other things, and how they had presented it in a very popular way. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it was done in a very popular way. It was really engaging. So, I was hoping that my sensibilities and their experience of writing something engaging would come together. When we started working, it became the other way around: they went in-depth into it and I got into the more populist element. I wanted more fun. ‘Idhar masti karte hai,’ or, ‘Udhar masti karte hai.’ The roles got reversed. Perhaps because I’d finished a very commercial film, Chhalaang, before we started this. We were constantly doing things, improvising, idhar punch line, udhar punch line, and I think somewhere all those things have worked for the show.

To maintain the seriousness of the subject and to also tell the story with complete integrity, but to do it entertainingly, the credit goes to the writing. Sameer and his team pushed us – not always to our liking, but they pushed us. Certain things that we have dumbed down a bit have in fact worked for the show. This is also an example of a very productive studio and creative team collaboration. We have never seen the studio as our adversary; they’ve come in as our partners and we’ve worked together. We’ve tried to wade through the studio language to understand that all of us finally want to make something good, something special. My only brief to everybody was that we have to over-deliver. If they want cake, let’s give them a bakery.

Scam 1992 Writer’s Room

Smriti Kiran: Sumit and Saurav, you’ve co-written Inside Edge. In broad strokes, it’s also about going into two very insular worlds: the stock market and the world of cricket. When you started writing this, what was your approach?

Samit Purohit: The one major difference between Inside Edge and Scam was that everyone thinks they know cricket. Everyone is a cricket expert. This was unknown territory – even for me, I had no idea about the share market. A good thing was that Saurav did. He’d played in the share market; he understood it. That became an interesting collaboration because I had no idea. When we started adapting the book, I started questioning how things happened, what shorting is, what bears and bulls are. He started explaining it to me. Eventually, a lot of it became part of the screenplay. Even when we were writing it, he’d write it quite technically, and then I would say, ‘I’m not understanding it. Let me give it a shot. Let me simplify it a little bit.’ Then I’d simplify it. Then we’d read again, and check if it worked then. There was another layer which was added when the dialogue writers came in: Karan and Vaibhav. They brought that flavour to it.

 

“One type of research is number, facts and data, which was available to us easily from the book. But then it also became about the language and the world.”

 

So, in a way that made it very different from the approach we had for Inside Edge. There the thing was that everyone knows cricket, now they should feel that whatever we are showing is very authentic because everyone has an opinion about it. Here we’re also trying to explain to you new terms and terminologies. In that way, it was totally different from Inside Edge.

Smriti Kiran: When you started, did you read the book? How did you then go about researching and writing this? What were the first steps that you took?

Saurav Dey: The first thing was that it’s a mammoth book: 400 pages, and 23 chapters, and Harshad is just three or four chapters. But Sumit and I are both good readers, so we kept reading it throughout. A lot of it was very technical as well; despite my experience, we were getting into money markets, which is a different ballgame altogether. I’ve been playing the stock markets since 2013 just to see if it works and if I can make some money. From 2015, I kept telling Sumit to put money in stocks because I was getting great returns. And he was like, ‘Nahi, main nahi karunga,’ ‘Kal karunga, parso karunga’. It went on like this. We had no idea that the stock market was calling us in a different way altogether.

By 2016, I had WhatsApp groups with friends on which we would recommend which stocks to buy. Eventually, we all went bust. It happens in Harshad’s life as well, where one major fluctuation came and he lost all his money – the same happened to us as well. So, when I was reading the book, I was like, ‘Oh, my God! Everyone loses money – I’m not the only one. Even Harshad lost money so many times.’ I was feeling good about it, to be honest.

Once we figured out the drama bit—Sumit was very careful to look at the drama in Harshad’s life—we made basic notes about that. I told Sumit and Hansal that I’m getting the stock market bits of it, I would decode every single bit of it, but with money markets I still needed guidance. So, essentially, we went and spoke with a lot of people who helped us understand the money market as well. It wasn’t very difficult. One or two chats made it very easy for us, but still, we had to go through the process.

Smriti Kiran: You have created a financial drama, a financial thriller. I don’t even want to compare it to anything in India because it’s not comparable. What are the kinds of people that you spoke to because you were also recreating a period with this?

Sumit Purohit: One type of research is number, facts and data, which was available to us easily from the book and we had access to Sucheta and Debashis. Then it also became about the language and the world. When we started asking them what Harshad would have said if he went to a bank, that’s when Sucheta started putting us in touch with people who were around that era and around Harshad Mehta. So that became a part of the research, and a lot of it was just listening to them. A lot of people think that there’s a lot of dialogue-baazi in the show, but it’s not that – that’s how these brokers spoke; the dialogues came from listening to these people.

Sumit Purohit’s notes from one of the research meetings

Then, of course, you’d go to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and try to do your research. But the thing is, everything is digital there now. Everything’s on the computer, and you have these young brokers in suits and ties who have no idea of how that world used to function. Then, we met this maintenance worker from 1979, who has been in BSE since then, who started telling us stories. This is how Manu Mundra was, or this is what used to happen on the mahurat day – a lot of those stories came from him.

Smriti Kiran: How did you structure the screenplay?

Sumit Purohit: I don’t know if there’s a simple formula to it. At one point, we thought it would be a non-linear story, where the scam is being discovered and you see the rise of Harshad parallelly. We wrote a couple of episodes like that, where it starts with the SBI discovering the scam, and then you parallelly cut to Harshad’s rise. Then Hansal said, ‘I don’t know who Harshad Mehta is, so I don’t care what the scam is.’ So, then we went back and tried a linear structure, and that started working for us. We also altered a few timelines, did a lot of composites with a lot of characters, who have this graph to them. The story starts in 1979 and it goes till 2001, and at different points, there were different characters in Harshad Mehta’s life, but then we had to do this composite, and subsequently, we slowly started finding the story. It kept on changing while we were writing it. We never really had a Bible and said, ‘Okay, this is what we are going to follow.’ It kept on changing and evolving because we were also doing research parallelly. It went beyond the book in the sense that Sucheta and Debashis’ story became part of it, which is not a part of the book.

 

“I’m very proud of this writing because an engaging story is an engaging story, a story well told is a story well told. It does not need crutches.”

 

So, it’s based on the book, but it’s not like an adaptation of the book either. The scam is much bigger. It involves many brokers, many politicians, and many banks. But we were focusing on Harshad, then Sucheta and Debashis. That went beyond the book.

Hansal Mehta: I wanted to add that the screenplay structure developed in a very organic manner because we were looking at a linear story. It could’ve altered later; we could have made it nonlinear after having seen it as a linear story, but because we followed a linear story, we kept writing organically.

This is an example of complete disruption. There is a perception that every rule in the long-form book that platforms tell you – that you must have this cliffhanger at the end, you must have these moments, you must have all these rules; like in feature films we have imposed all those sit fields and four-act structures (the interval point, for example – they want to know the interval point before they know the story) – needs to be adhered to. You see, we have sort of subverted all those rules, and I’m very proud of this writing because an engaging story is an engaging story, a story well told is a story well told. It does not need crutches.

Gulzar sahab had said something very early on in my career. Some producer asked him, ‘Where is the interval?’ He said, ‘In the middle of the script. Divide the book into half and it’s in the middle.’ So, if you’ve written it well, it’ll end correctly, it’ll begin correctly. It’ll all happen if your craft in telling the story is correct.

Smriti Kiran: Hansal, while you were researching, writing and working on these drafts, what was the chemistry and the process like between Saurav, Sumit and you? How did you guys coordinate drafts in between episodes and character arcs?

Hansal Mehta: One of the things that Saurav and Sumit introduced me to was something called WriterDuet. We rehearsed for work from home from 2018. We were preparing for the pandemic from the time we began. All of us worked from a remote location, and I love that way of working. It’s a far more productive collaborative style, where you meet when it’s required. It’s when Vaibhav and Karan came in that our meetings got entertaining. Otherwise, the three of us would have stopped meeting just out of sheer boredom.

We used to have regular meetings. There’s a process because there’s a content studio that is producing this. So, after everything was done, there’d be one meeting where we would discuss the script, where feedback was given in a very structured manner. We would discuss the feedback internally before we went there, and that would also be our big script meeting, where we would meet, jam, talk and try to find solutions to the points raised by them, solutions to the problems we felt we were facing. It was that constant, very organic process. It was made a little more productive because they introduced us to that tool. Ever since, I’ve been only using that tool.

Smriti Kiran: Hansal, share your experience of editing the series because the entire editing has happened during the lockdown.

Hansal Mehta: Since we are talking about editing, I must tell you that one of the advantages of having a writer like Sumit on the show is that he is also an editor. I believe that a writer is an editor, and you have to see yourself like that. Ultimately, you are trying to tell the story; you’re rewriting at every stage, which includes editing. It’s perhaps the only stage where you are improvising. You’re not rewriting, not restructuring, you’re just reimagining everything. But editing is also a rewriting process.

Again, you know, the pandemic forced us into working remotely. Otherwise, conventionally you sat behind the editor and worked on it. Earlier when we used to work on a film, I used to tap the editor on his back every time I wanted a cut. The editor after a point started wearing a pad on his shoulder. It’s such an inorganic process because the editor needs their personal space to work and you need your personal space to evaluate that work.

We found this tool called frame.io. The edit process was fascinating. I have never enjoyed an edit as much as I did on this show. It was thoroughly enjoyable. There was Kunal (Walve), who was Sumit’s co-editor, and between the three of us, we had great fun. I have all the sessions saved up. How much we interacted with each other! Small, subtle things that we were able to change.

The triumph of the show is in the writing and the editing, because everything else that came in between, it was wonderful and it was expected from good professionals, but what went beyond that was in the writing and the editing ultimately – the rewriting that took place when we were editing it. Everybody was a part of that rewriting process.

Smriti Kiran: One of the striking things apart from casting are the dialogues. What was really interesting about the series was the way with which the usage of multiple languages was handled. You also have about 170 speaking characters in the series, and you wrote for all of them. How did you bring in the authenticity and the spoken-ness that each character has and also made each character so distinct?

“For some of the characters, Karan and I took people that we knew and started superimposing them.”

 

Vaibhav Vishal: I’ll give a little Hansal story before that. We had worked on a few things, and we were in various stages of our lives. So Hansal called me and said, ‘Ek Scam karke series hai, tu likhega kya dialogues?’ Toh maine bola, ‘Sir, main Gujarat mein chaar saal tha lekin aise Gujarati nuances halka-fulka hi jaanta hoon. Aur financial market pe hai toh bilkul nahi jaanta hoon. How will I write it? Kaise likhunga main?’ And Hansal’s reaction was, ‘This is exactly why I want you in.’ It’s beautiful the amount of confidence that he has in all of us. When he talked about how his instinct works, very few people have that. So, I was sceptical about my presence in the show and Hansal wasn’t at all.

He had the brief for a few of the characters. He said that we have to humanize everybody. Harshad’s character’s brief was ‘Give me the swag of Amitabh Bachchan without the swagger of Amitabh Bachchan.’ That’s a brilliant brief to work on. A line like ‘Risk hai toh ishq hai’ came from that.

Again, I was very sceptical. I didn’t know how Sumit and Saurav would react because they had done all the homework – humein khaane ke liye halwa mil gaya tha, humein bas thoda bohot embellish karna tha. Credit to both of them for being so wonderful.

So, pehle jab karke diya toh I was sceptical. Hansal’s reaction was, ‘Badhiya hai. Kaam kar raha hai.’ But it’s only when Sumit and Saurav gave their okay was when I realised that things are working right and they are going in the right direction.

For some of the characters, Karan and I took people that we knew and started superimposing them. I know a certain set of people, like the Bhanushali brothers of T-Series, when they talk to you, they do a lot of ‘Darling!’ So, for me, Pranav Sheth was Bhanushali, perhaps. Sumit had a certain character in his head as well, so we talked and we kind of matched. It was insane.

Of course, Karan started adding so many beautiful nuances and elements into it that suddenly we had distinct voices for each of the characters. Since humanising them was one of the clear briefs, we ensured that the English-speaking people didn’t have any dialogue. Their dialogues are not dialogue-y, versus everybody else such as the jobbers who do have a lot of dialogues. And as Sumit said, they speak like that.

We had to make Harshad Mehta heroic. We had to make him a hero. At that point in time who could have been Harshad’s hero? The internet hadn’t happened; the exposure was very little; Hindi films were the only inspiration source that he had. And who was the big hero then? Amitabh Bachchan. So Harshad Mehta had to be Amitabh Bachchan, because Harshad, I’m sure, thought that Amitabh Bachchan was Harshad Mehta. That’s how Harshad’s character was given those layers. That’s how we went about it.

“All we had to do was be true to the events that took place in Harshad’s life and to place Harshad there as a human being.”

 

Karan Vyas: Hansal sir’s brief was that we are not here to judge any of the characters that are there in the series. There are more than 170 characters – if I’m not wrong, there must be more than 200, because I had charted out all these people and the distinct nuances that we needed to add to each of them to make them sound different.

One of the earlier briefs we all got was that each character should sound different because they live in the same world, but because of this technical jargon, their vocabulary should be such that you should be able to bifurcate who’s talking to whom even while we are narrating. If Harshad, Ashwin and Bhushan are talking to each other, they’re actually talking about almost the same issues, but if you missed who said what, based on the line you can figure out who’s talking. Sometimes, Hansal sir would get very mad because I would mix-match: I’d place Ashwin in place of Harshad, Harshad in place of Ashwin. He would call me up regarding that, and I would tell him, ‘Sir, line dekh lo na. Line se kya pata chal raha hai kaun bol raha hai?’

So, all the credit goes to Hansal sir, as Vaibhav rightly said. He put his trust in me. I am from a Gujarati film background. Before that, I hadn’t done anything major in mainstream Bollywood or the Hindi film industry. I was doing something which wasn’t out, so he hasn’t seen any of my work in Hindi. To give the job of a dialogue writer on such a big show, almost 550 pages of script, is all Hansal sir’s conviction. He could gauge that I had it in me after talking for close to two-three hours and that too talking about Harshad Mehta for less than 30 seconds.

Smriti Kiran: Hansal, the series had to be true to one person, right? Of course, that’s in the title of the series: it’s ‘The Harshad Mehta Story’. When you humanise a character like that, how do you balance between the empathy that you create for him and also make him the cautionary tale? How did you decide on the lens that the series would take?

Hansal Mehta: It was organic. We discovered Harshad through the writing process. That’s the beauty: if you prejudge or pre-decide that this guy is going to be this wronged hero, then you will purposely follow that kind of a trajectory; if you pre-decide that this person is going to be a villain, an antagonist, the antihero, then in the writing process, you start following that, and you sort of pre-preconceive. For me, a human being is much more: he’s a collection of contradictions, flaws, empathy, love, hatred, greed, compassion – so many things. All these qualities exist in everybody. The proportion varies based on the situation they are placed in. All we had to do was be true to the events that took place in Harshad’s life and to place Harshad there as a human being. At every stage, he had a choice; ultimately, it’s about the choices you make. That’s why people keep telling me that they reached episode five and said, ‘Stop it. Don’t do it. Harshad, please don’t do it.’ Almost like people having conversations with Harshad Mehta. They know his tale; they know that the guy’s dead; he has suffered, and yet people want to stop him. That’s when you humanise. You make a choice: to be greedy, to misuse the system; stealing is also a choice that you make. Nobody does these things thinking that they’d get away with it. He did it thinking that he would get away with it. Overconfidence, arrogance and greed got the better of a man who would have been 68-69 years old today, probably sipping tea with his family. The sad part is that his greed cost him his life.

Hansal Mehta and Pratik Gandhi on the sets of Scam 1992

Smriti Kiran: In a day and age where people are truncating a series down to six-seven episodes due to budgetary issues, did you ever at any point in time feel like you needed to lessen it?

Hansal Mehta: All of us are avid watchers. We’ve watched so many series and long-form stories. I’ve watched and consumed a lot. That consumption began with The Wire to Mad Men to Breaking Bad. What you realise about long-form is, the more time you give the character, the more immersive it becomes. If you have enough material, if you have compelling characters, the experience is more immersive and you’re investing in the long-form to be immersive, not to be constantly taken from one thing to the other. You don’t want to be unsettled. You don’t take on the drive to Ladakh to go speeding – you go there to cruise. That’s what long-term storytelling is about. It allows you to absorb the scenery, to absorb the sites as you go along, to sort of feel the weather, feel the breeze as you go along.

“You need talent, authenticity and conviction. Nothing else matters. Everything else is a creation of a lazy marketing mind.”

 

I have to give credit to the studio and the platform. They saw it as a compelling tale and then never pressurized us. In fact, in many meetings that we did, they insisted that we add more. They also encouraged us to add more. That’s what it ultimately boils down to: belief – how much you believe in what you’re saying. I find this excessive cutting and reduction a product of fear – we begin our work from a note of fear; we are so worried that failure becomes a starting point, and that is a fatal flaw.

Smriti Kiran: The casting of the show is another triumph. I can safely say there are no small parts in Scam 1992. Hansal, how involved was the writing room in the casting? How influential was it when you started casting for each part? Doesn’t it help if you know which actor’s playing which part? I’m so glad that we found Pratik (Gandhi), and Shreya (Dhanwanthary) also got into the mix – they’re brilliant; but weren’t you tempted for even once to cast somebody well-known?

Hansal Mehta: No. That’s the thing: the idea is to be surprising. We kept chatting about possible casting. That’s half the fun of collaborations: going through your fantasies – what if this one played it, what if that one played it – we constantly had conversations about what if Rajkummar did this. Those conversations do happen.

We wrote our drafts, and one of the things that helped us a lot is that we went through a series of readings where the entire cast and members of the crew got together, and we read the episodes together. That helped us refine our tone of voice. It helped us refine who would say what to a larger extent.

I also think that the casting is quite a triumph – it is quite a vindication; and the fact that you don’t need stars, you don’t need big names, but what you need is authenticity. You need talent, authenticity and conviction. Nothing else matters. Everything else is a creation of a lazy marketing mind. Nothing else. It’s lazy, reductionist generalisation. I read this today, somebody had made an announcement: ‘Unprecedented opening for a film on OTT.’ I mean, come on, don’t impose the crap that has led to the downfall of the quality in our films. Don’t impose that upon long-form. There is still some purity in the long format. Don’t impose that. ‘Biggest opening,’ what is ‘biggest opening’? When I read that, I was livid.

Hansal Mehta on the sets of Scam 1992

Smriti Kiran: But isn’t it true, Hansal, that a lot of the actors were cast because you had in some way either seen them – because you see a lot of Gujarati theatre – or you were in touch with them and always wanted to create some kind of opportunity, and Scam 1992 was the perfect opportunity to cast a lot of talented people that you had faith in.

Hansal Mehta: There’s a misconception that when you’re casting for a Hindi film or show, the actors would hail from North India only. As a result, a lot of talent from Marathi or Gujarati theatre or cinema is either side-lined to regional cinema or regional theatre, and you don’t see them getting enough of a platform. This lent itself to that. I saw that opportunity. A lot of the credit goes to Mukesh Chhabra and his team. They put all these faces together, and presented it to us; to which we would respond, ‘Oh, I’ve seen him!’ Chirag Vohra is somebody I’d been meeting since 1996. He first visited me asking for work on the sets of Jayate, my first film. He came last night to meet me with some bribes – he got some Gujarati snacks for me. He said, ‘After 24 years, we’ve worked together.’ I said, ‘Well, what matters is that we work together and it counts.’

The show has completed a month – it has been four weeks – and its success is unrelenting; the love for the show is unrelenting.

Q&A with Dial M For Films Participants and Viewers Watching Live on YouTube

Siddharth Malhotra: As the series is adapted from a book – and as Sumit said that it’s about 400 pages long – it could have been, technically, very alienating. How much did you all have to deviate from the book to make it entertaining and appealing to everybody else?

Sumit Purohit: Some parts which you might feel are completely fictional are the most real parts of Scam. What we had to do was to make it a little more linear because a lot of these things were happening in parallel. So, we had to make it linear. We didn’t deviate from the book. Other than that, it also became Sucheta and Debashis’ story, which is not part of the book. It also became about the investigation. But facts-wise we were quite close to what’s in the book.

Vaibhav Vishal: Also, because we were not telling the stock market story, we were telling the Harshad Mehta story. It was very important that we told the man’s story.

Siddharth Malhotra: I don’t know anything about the stock market at all and yet it kept me hooked. At the end, I was feeling bad when he died. I said, ‘Nahi yaar, isko zinda karo, somehow, for me to see more.’ And that’s why it connected in a bigger way because it was the human emotion that was driving – I was rooting for him, even when he was falling and course-correcting. Finally, I started connecting and feeling for him. That’s the victory for all of you.

Sumit Purohit: A lot of people are comparing it with The Wolf of Wall Street (by Martin Scorsese). That was never a reference for us. If any film was a reference, it was a film called Margin Call (by J. C. Chandor). It’s a small film. It’s about somebody discovering this formula and then realising that the market is going to crash the next day. You don’t understand that formula, and that’s all right because you are with the characters. Hansal said that it was alright if somebody doesn’t understand what a BR is or what the SGL is. They should know that if this paper is missing, there’s a problem. The moment actors start speaking in the language where the audiences are feeling that they’re saying it because they want to explain it to me, then there’s a disconnect. It’s okay if these real people – brokers, bankers – know what they are talking about, even if I’m not understanding, I am with them emotionally.

Hansal Mehta: The other thing, Siddharth, was that we made the effort of not treating the audience like idiots. We wanted to respect the audience. What happens is that often when we write, we disrespect the audience; we keep telling them ‘Inko nahi samajh mein aayega. They won’t understand.’ So, you dumb it down. In dumbing it down you mess up the screenplay because you have to keep forcing expository bits where some random person starts explaining. ‘Iska matlab ye hua…’ and the other person asks, ‘Matlab?’ You must be knowing it. I have also spent a lot of time doing television, and I know a dialogue like this would come eventually. They keep repeating the damn thing. Then you’re like, ‘Why the hell are they doing it?’ One artist is there just to say ‘Matlab’? It was only because we treated the audience like such dumb idiots. What this show has proven is that you need to talk to them, not down to them.

Saurav Dey: I want to add one more thing here. There was a point when Sumit and I were actually discussing that since we had so much material, we should have 12 episodes and two seasons. So, we went and told Hansal that we had terrific 10-11 episodes, let’s add all of it and we’ll have two seasons, where at the end of season one the newspaper article would come out, so people would wait for what would happen in the next season. Then Hansal thought about it and said that the emotional connection would only happen if people saw it in one go, which was obviously the correct call.

Sucharita Tyagi: When you’re making a show that’s centred around one guy, so many different characters come and go – some of them live, some of them die; some of them have very important moments like Bhushan Bhatt’s character at the end. How did you divide the characters in the writer’s room?

Hansal Mehta: I don’t think we structured anything like that. We had no such structure because all four of the writers worked together. In fact, some of the dialogues Sumit wrote, some of the English dialogues Saurav wrote, there were some screenplay changes that V2 (Vaibhav Vishal) and Karan made. The characters were all part of the world that we had imagined.

It’s an organic process. The characters start blossoming. Now, Bhushan Bhatt (played by Chirag Vohra) was somebody who actually blossomed. He’s a composite character. He’s somebody that came from our collective imagination. So, we could take him wherever we wanted him to go. There was that Shakespearian betrayal that you ultimately see from Bhushan Bhatt. Because of him, Harshad almost became this flawed, tragic hero. The characters evolved.

Our writer’s room was mostly virtual. Everybody was writing everything, but between Sumit and Saurav, there was some division that they did, which never really came to me. The script was 550 pages, but Saurav can write 5500 pages on this, with the amount of information he has.

Saurav Dey: The scene where Harshad is explaining shorting to Rahil is written the way I explained shorting to Sumit. He was still not getting it. Of course, that was a simplistic explanation. I was trying to do a real explanation. Then I said, ‘Chalo, cricket hi samajh lo, and you bet on the losing team.’ So, Sumit was like, ‘This is making sense, but still not making sense in real life.’ I said that we could still use it.

Then a very important process we had to undergo was to make it simpler. If you take the example of the scene in episode two between Harshad and Ashwin, when they are discussing whether to short the market or buy in the event of Ms. (Indira) Gandhi’s passing away, we had written that scene in very simplistic language. When we went to Hansal with it, he said that these two guys were probably the sharpest minds in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but the way they were speaking seemed like two 14-year-olds were discussing the stock market. He didn’t want it. He said, ‘I want something which is absolutely organic. Give me the lingo in which these guys will actually speak.’ We went back and thought that it was great because that’s the way we wanted to do it. So, we actually made it as complicated as possible as we tried to imagine how they’d speak about matters such as markets rebounding, shorting and so on and so forth. We did one draft of it, which Sumit slightly simplified. Then it went to Hansal, and he said that it was great; it could be the base from which we could now simplify it further so that the audience could get it. This is the kind of structure we used throughout to explain all these things: start with the exact lingo in which they would probably speak and then try to find that middle part which would make it accessible as well.

Excerpt from Scam 1992’s Screenplay Draft (above) and Shooting Draft (below)

Sucharita Tyagi: And would you say that this is specific to the OTT platform? Maybe you could not have followed this approach if you were writing for a film, perhaps?

Saurav Dey: You know, even on OTT platforms there is a possibility that people will keep saying, ‘No, no. Dumb it down because people ko samajh nahi aayega.’ That’s a call that Hansal and the producers took very strongly. I remember during a meeting with the producers when we discussed the money market explanation in episode four, I was like, ‘Should we just make this simpler?’ That’s when both Sameer Nair and Hansal said that they wanted it to be slightly difficult. ‘Let it be. Let’s challenge the audiences.’ As a team, we took this call; but I don’t think a lot of teams will still take this call in OTTs.

Sucharita Tyagi: But it works. For instance, The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, and even in that miniseries, right until the end you don’t understand the technicalities of the chess positions that the character is talking about, but then you’re not supposed to because the show is not about that – the show is about everything else. That’s what happens with yas well. Bulls aur bears ke aage kuch samajh mein nahi aaya, the technicalities of it. But it didn’t feel like something was lacking.

Hansal Mehta: Christopher Nolan has spoiled a lot of people. He puts all this science which nobody can understand, and people still enjoy it. They make it into some sort of exercise –‘Mujhe ye samajh mein aaya,’ ‘Mujhe vo samajh mein aaya,’ that kind of mathematics.

Gulzar sahab once told me after I asked him that I wasn’t able to understand something: ‘Thodi toh mathematics khelo. Audience ke saath bhi thoda khela karo.’ That’s the word he used: mathematics. Even in his lyrics when you tell him that you don’t understand something, he’d say: ‘Samajh jayenge. Pura gaana sunne do na, ek shabd pe thodi na pura gaana hinge karta hai.’ That is the underlying principle: ki aap repeat karo ek cheez ko.

This BR and SGL are repeated very smartly at different conflict points. So, it becomes a point of conflict between two people. ‘Arre tune BR de diya? Kaise de diya! Kyun diya?’ But actually the BR is an innocuous piece of paper, nothing else, on which two people are fighting. The conflict is important, not the device that creates the conflict.

Sumit Purohit: Interestingly, Hansal gave Nolan’s example, because what I’ve seen happen with Scam is that a lot of people are making these YouTube videos trying to explain things. That’s where it has gone beyond the show now, where I’m also watching and trying to figure if this is the right explanation. You should always leave some questions unanswered. Nolan’s films end and then they begin when people start discussing. That’s what happened with Scam.

Chanakya Vyas: What is the role of ethics while creating a story that uses real names, places and events?

Hansal Mehta: It’s a very thin line that you traverse. I’ve been doing this for a living for the last eight-nine years, telling all these true stories. First is, information and characters that are available in the book as we know them, as substantiated by the available material. Secondly, if there is material which is unsubstantiated but which is part of the rumour mill or part of anecdotal evidence, you fictionalise it, you dramatize it but keeping in mind that you stay true to what you’ve heard. Eventually, it’s all about staying true to what you’ve heard.

Dramatization is the key. You have to understand that it’s dramatized. There’s a difference between dramatizing and fictionalising. So, there’s compositing, there’s dramatization and there’s representation. These are the three key factors in telling a story. What is dramatized? What is representative? What is a composite? So, that is a constant. Ajay Kedia (played by Shadaab Khan) doesn’t exist. There’s a lot of speculation about who Ajay Kedia is. He is a composite of characters who belonged to something called the Bear Cartel, which is mentioned in the book, but we could not have so many characters. So, we composited them into these three, four characters; but there’s a lot of speculation outside. You’re also enjoying the speculation; we smile privately about it. Some of the speculations might be right as well.

Karan actually imagined Rajat Kapoor’s character, K. Madhavan. He was written, but Karan made him into this foul-mouthed and firm guy. Then Rajat added one more layer when he took Karan’s lines. It was incredible how Rajat gave the character that dignity and that strength. We had real Madhavan’s daughter contacting us out of nowhere, writing a personal note to Rajat saying that he presented her father with a lot of dignity.

More than ethics, it boils down to intent. In short: it is to present the story with the correct intent. We had no intention to titillate, to sensationalize, or to subvert.

Ganesh Kodandaram Salian: While penning the script, did you have difficulty in deciding what to include and what not to include from Harshad Mehta’s life?

Sumit Purohit: The good thing about Harshad Mehta is that when we were researching and trying to meet people who were around that era, everyone had a Harshad Mehta story to tell. Everything you see in the show is from those stories. It wasn’t difficult to find fillers in between, like the wedding sequence, while jumping from one era to the other – there were so many stories. We had to edit some out while writing and some after they were shot. He was a fascinating character. It’s not like we started calling him ‘Share market ka Amitabh Bachchan.’ That’s what the media used to call him. He was on the covers of every business magazine – India Today, for example. There were always stories around him, and so it wasn’t a problem to find these fillers and tell his personal stories.

Saurav Dey: Sumit and I were in a personal competition on who could find more about Harshad. Both of us are good at Googling in general; we are very good at finding all kinds of trivia. One day, while Sumit was reading the book after having read it once already, and I was just Googling, I immediately shouted, ‘I’ve got this! I’ve got this! I’ve got the sense of it.’ But Sumit was like, ‘I’ve got something better.’ What we have as episode eight and nine had been overlooked while writing the beat sheet of the show. Sumit said, ‘Oh, my God! Now I have found exactly what happens to Harshad when he comes out of jail.’ All that was written about it is probably just one page, but he found a eureka moment for himself regarding how we could do the eighth and ninth episode interestingly.

These things kept happening. This is the way we also found anecdotes about him. Then when we went out and spoke to people, there were a lot more that we found. A lot of people would think that the Lexus scene is something that we actually created, but one of his friends told us that it happened exactly the same way.

Aadya Shah: Harshad Mehta is a character who’s driven by the urge to make money. We rarely see him getting swayed by his own emotions. How did you go about writing his character keeping this in mind? How did you plot his emotional graph in the show?

Saurav Dey: When we were starting off Harshad, I went back to Julius Caesar. I read Julius Caesar once more because in my mind Harshad was like Caesar, who after finding success thinks he can do anything. I remember we had a chat about this as well. There’s a scene between Jyoti and Harshad, of which Sumit and I had written a very sketchy draft. I had written a note for Hansal saying that this scene would be like Caesar and Calpurnia’s conversation, when he says, ‘Cowards die many times before their deaths.’ So, Hansal got the tone of it very quickly. He understood that that was the way to do that. Even when the Bhushan thing happens at the end, Hansal was like, ‘Now he’s going to turn like Brutus.’ We did use Shakespeare as one of the references, but there were several others as well.

Hansal Mehta: In characterisation, there is also what the dialogue writers added. Somewhere, the actors, the correct casting, added one more layer to it. I’ll give you an example of a scene. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the show, where the two brothers meet when Ashwin comes to see Harshad in jail.

While shooting the scene, as the brothers were talking (Ashwin has come with medicines), I whispered in Pratik’s (who plays Harshad) ear, ‘Just surprise your brother.’ Now, throughout the entire show, there is no physical display of affection between the brothers – they don’t even put a hand on each other’s shoulder. Suddenly, as the brother is leaving, Harshad holds his hand and hugs him. That was a moment that just happened. That moment defined the relationship. The entire arc of their relationship somewhere came together when the two brothers hugged. What do you see next? He’s dead. It makes you really feel when you see the helpless brother on the other side. He’s been warning him throughout to not do it. So, Harshad hugging him is almost like a surrender – that ‘I messed up, I’m sorry.’ He doesn’t say it, but that entire moment says so much. It’s a whirlpool of emotions. So, that’s how characterisation keeps evolving. And the dialogues gave it a real personality.

Karan Vyas: Harshad’s a salesman throughout the series. From the very first scene he has with Ambalal, he’s selling himself. Even though he has screwed up on day one, he says, ‘Jokhim na lena hi sabse bada jokhim hai market mein.’ He has that edge of being a salesman. The more you see his graph, the better you’ll see how he sells to Polo Steel, to the RBI governor. He started believing himself to be Bachchan. When he knows he has a bigger audience, for example, Doordarshan, where people are taking interviews, he pulls an Amitabh Bachchan act with the cigarette and the lighter, saying that while he doesn’t smoke, he keeps it handy to light a chingari. Even towards the end when people are doubting him and he’s addressing the people at BSE, he comes out and yet again shows his Amitabh Bachchan side when he says, ‘Dalal Street ka dariya main hoon, jisme dum hai aake namak chakh le.’ He had that graph throughout.

There’s an interesting line which was an internal joke in the writers’ room, when a government official tells him to keep his mouth shut. He just says one line, which is, ‘These days I like oranges,’ and he has an orange in his hand. So, he is trying to sell himself in whichever way he can, but the way differs based on his emotional arc.

Sumit Purohit: Also, it’s not a graph that we were trying to create. That graph is quite organic to Harshad Mehta. It’s in the book. For all the scenes, we gave them the dialogues and made them a little more emotional. Whether it’s the Ambalal scene or where he confesses that he is the big bull from the article or the scene where he tries to sell his ideas to the governor, all of these happened in reality. We were not trying to force a graph on him. That was his internal graph.

Vaibhav Vishal: When Hansal gave the Amitabh Bachchan brief, I did some research. If you see Harshad’s life and Amitabh Bachchan’s filmography in the period, it’s actually running parallel to each other. Starting from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, The Great Gambler, Mr. Natwarlal, Do Aur Do Paanch, Shaan, Naseeb, Desh Premee, Namak Halaal, Khuddar, Andha Kanoon, Mahaan, Mard, Shahenshah, Toofan, Jaadugar, that’s one cluster; then Aakhree Raasta, Main Azaad Hoon, sKhuda Gawah – that’s Harshad Mehta’s life in chronological order reflecting Amitabh Bachchan’s films. This is, of course, in retrospect that we can see that it is there; but when I was working on the character, I could see that there was this thing. It was uncanny, the graph and the match.

Hansal Mehta: We always felt that. There’s a scene between Pranav, Ashwin and Harshad, where they are sitting and Ashwin is complaining about how screwed they are and that Harshad should speak to the RBI governor, but suddenly, Pranav, who’s at the back, says, ‘Arre Shashi Kapoor, shaant hoja.’ By then, we believed that Harshad was Amitabh Bachchan and Ashwin was Shashi Kapoor. Those ‘80s and ‘90s references came very instinctively. I grew up with those references and those references found their way into the script.

Karan Vyas: Till the end, there is Amitabh Bachchan – when they are watching Kaun Banega Crorepati.

Vaibhav Vishal: Yes, the ‘Lock kiya jaye’ reference. Hansal sir was talking about the last scene. If you see, Harshad uses both his hands which are so tightly wound together, almost like he won’t let go of him. That was beautiful. Again, those nuances I don’t think any dialogue writer or writers can write. These are all actors and how they react to the situation and the director on the set, who is governing this entire thing. We had no role to play there. It’s such a beautiful scene. One of the best scenes of the entire show – it breaks all of us.

Abhinav Sharma: In the case of the central character’s family, who decides the involvement of the family in the story? The source material itself or is it an intentional decision by the creator to use the family as a filler or a part of the story?

Sumit Purohit: I keep saying that the book does talk about Harshad Mehta’s family. You cannot talk about Harshad Mehta unless you talk about where he’s coming from and the condition of the family. That’s, again, a very organic decision to make. It’s Harshad Mehta’s story – you cannot just talk about his business side and ignore his family side because that probably forced him to do what he did. He was trying to fit in this different world, so it was always important to see where he was coming from. It was a very organic decision to tell that story. It’s equally the story of these two brothers. The family was always going to be around.

Hansal Mehta: The brother is like a moral compass. When you see Narcos, what redeems Pablo Escober? He’s such an ass. But the love for his family redeems him. You feel terrible, you feel bad for Pablo Escobar when he eventually dies. That ambiguity, that emotional connection comes from the family, no matter how bad you are. It’s a classic thing.

When you see Deewar (by Yash Chopra), even though Amitabh Bachchan was a smuggler, a criminal, he dies in his mother’s lap. It’s simple. Salim-Javed have taught us some absolute scriptures of scriptwriting. Mainstream cinema, unfortunately, has not learned to take those learnings and evolve with those in our current times. But there are valuable learnings to be had from the films of, say, Bimal Roy, Satyajit Ray, Manmohan Desai, or Shyam Benegal. When you see their films, you will see those characters bound by a thread of relationships. A nonfiction book tells you a chronology of events. You have to give that chronology of events colour, life, flesh – everything.

It’s imagined. We never met the family, but we saw images. When Harshad died, there was an image of his wife breaking down. If you stare at that image, you will see an entire life that has gone past – and you’ll try to imagine. That’s the effort. People often feel that adapting a book is nothing. Adapting a book is something that can go terribly wrong. You’ve seen it very often.

Sumit Purohit: As Hansal was saying, we were not trying to fictionalise it, we were trying to dramatize it. We have imagined things and created a scene. Every scene you see has come from some story or some line in the book. It’s all coming from there. Harshad and his brother taking that office which belonged to their father was not something we’d imagined – that happened. The way Harshad dies, in the end, might look completely fictionalised but that’s how he died in Thane jail. It’s a cliche to say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in Scam’s case, it is.

Krithika Yegnaraman: Why did you choose to take a neutral stand against Harshad Mehta?

Hansal Mehta: The thing about any writing, any work of art, is that it’s subjective. We should leave that to the audience. You must decide on the ambiguity and not judge. If I was to judge the character from the time that we started writing and then shooting him, the character would become very one dimensional. No character is one dimensional. He’s flawed; he’s making mistakes. This is not only a show about Harshad Mehta’s life and him stealing from the system, but also about the system itself which is going through systemic rot. This is a cautionary tale also about a system that is yet to be fixed. It is not fixed yet.

The Harshad Mehta scam came out in 1992. Institutions have been formed to fix the errors, the flaws that we found at that time, but new flaws, loopholes, scamsters came in. The system, somewhere, is facilitating the misuse of public money, public wealth by unscrupulous people. So it is as much a tale about ordinary human beings succumbing to a system that constantly throws this greed at you as it is about class – it poses a question: Is it possible to achieve what Harshad Mehta achieved, the riches, the luxury, by being an honest person? Is the system loaded against that person who comes with honest intentions? These are questions that it’s trying to pose. It’s talking about the class divide. There is a whole gang that is doing the same thing, but their suits are swankier, their English is far more polished, and they look down upon Harshad thinking how he can do it – he’s classless. There’s even a dialogue which goes, ‘Harshad bhi vahi kar raha hai, but he does it without class.’ Where does class come into theft?

What you call neutrality is an attempt to study something on a larger scale. Unfortunately, what has happened is that over the years we’ve been taught that Ravana is bad and Ram is good. Myths and stories that are passed down generations, which become a part of our mythology, have unfortunately become very one dimensional because they have to be taught to children. That’s what we did not want to do. When 25-30 years later, this show is viewed to understand the times that we lived in, I think they should get a broader understanding, rather than seeing Harshad as a villain and the system as a heroic pinnacle of virtue.

Swaratmika Mishra: In a series, you could connect the dots and show us these different, myriad characters and their personality traits, what they went through and how they found loopholes. If it was just a film, would you be able to elaborate and give Harshad a different lens?

Hansal Mehta: I’ve never thought about it. Many years back when I was planning to make a film, I must admit, no, I wouldn’t have been able to do this, because my worldview and my cinematic vision was also far more limited. It was driven by the work that was happening around me. It is possible; it requires a great deal of skill.

Having said that, I’m thankful that we have the long-form right now. I keep telling people that films are like The New York Times and series are like The New Yorker. Both of them have good writing, both of them report amazing stuff; but you take your time with The New Yorker. One is like a good single malt, and the other is like a lager – you have to choose what you want to drink on that day.

Aditi Seth: There are so many seeti maar dialogues in Scam 1992. What was the process of working that out?

Karan Vyas: We never thought that a particular dialogue would become a seeti maar dialogue. Apart from ‘Risk hai toh ishq hai,’ the dialogues—even ‘Success kya hai, failure ke baad naya chapter.’—came organically in the process. I never thought that it would be so well received. We were only following the character. Sucheta would have asked, ‘Why is there a common man and not a common woman?’ That’s what I imagined. And R. K. Laxman, given what he was, would have given a beautiful and witty answer to it. So, we were following those characters and that’s how it all came out. Except for one or two dialogues, we had no intention of creating seeti maar dialogues.

Hansal Mehta: Karan, don’t lie. He’s underplaying it because it comes naturally to him. Every second dialogue he waits for a response. He performs the script. He has enacted all the characters and Karan’s enactment is completely different from what the actors have done.

There’s a line that goes, ‘Lala, gaadi jalane mein aur gaadi chalane mein, dono mein petrol lagta hai.’ Now, how organic is it? It’s a genius line, but he wrote that. I remember at the reading we all looked at each other – it’s an audacious line. While writing, he lends his own character to the characters. That’s what happens: one guy who looks like this sage is totally filmy, and the other guy looks like he has just come out of Bal Hanuman, but both of them have the hidden need to entertain the audience. I’m so thankful, though. It’s because of them that the show is so popular.

Karan Vyas: But there’s another side to it. There’s the jobbers and Harshad’s world, but you also have to write dialogues for Sucheta and Debashis, or the RBI Governor, or SBI’s world, or K. Madhavan. There was a conscious decision to make each character sound distinct from one another, and for that particular process, you have to follow the character and how they speak.

Vaibhav Vishal: It was a conscious decision to make the character heroic – that was Hansal’s brief. Fortunately, all our sensibilities matched. We are all ‘80s and ‘90s people, so a lot of it had to come naturally.

But, while we were writing it, as Karan said, we were not consciously thinking ki ispe seeti bajegi. They were dialogues, and they were clearly dialogue-y. ‘Khelne ka time khatam, pelne ka time shuru,’ of course there’s a rhyme and rhythm in it. It’s written consciously. We knew that it would get the reactions, but this extreme and intense, we didn’t ever imagine that.

One of the things that we would insist on would be to give us four-five episodes in one go because it’d be easy to know what the characters are. Initially, the characters were sounding the same because they were all Bombay boys. Karan did a whole load of embellishments to the characters that were there and made them different. But initially, that was the main concern: that they’d all sound the same, and they were sounding the same because their milieu was exactly the same.

So, some of it was very, very consciously done, and I would credit Karan for adding those little nuances to the character that made a huge difference.

Gauri M.: The Gujarati dialogues really take you into the world of the Mehtas. How was that incorporated into the script?

Karan Vyas: I have a set of Harshad Mehtas around me. My friends are like that – they invest in equities, shares, and lands. I’ve grown up in a school and college with these rich, dhandawala Gujarati friends, so they brought about that inspiration. And then all those idioms my mom and my grandmother use on me; some of which they use wrongly. But I have grown up listening to all those idioms. When someone wants to make a point, the use of that idiom makes communication a lot easier. Because it is a cautionary tale, half of those idioms are relevant to it. But this is how we talk.

One of the first things that Hansal said was, ‘Let’s not make Gujaratis caricatures. We are more than Jethalal (from Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah).’ He would be very adamant on getting the correct tonality and not make them into caricatures if there were any Gujarati lines. Him knowing Gujarati came in very handy. We also used to converse a lot in Gujarati. Out of all the writers, he would pinpoint that this is wrong or this doesn’t sound right. I had that taskmaster in the room who would correct me.

Hansal Mehta: Also, we cast Gujarati actors. There used to be times when we would convert an extra line, which was in Gujarati, to Hindi on the set when we’d feel that it was sounding too much. This concept of a locked script is lazy corporatisation, where everything is regimented – that once you’ve built the car, you don’t change it; if the dye has been cast, then every car has to look like it. That’s an assembly line. There’s no room to constantly improve. It’s not about improvisation, it’s about improvement. The script forms the basis for that. The actors would constantly work on the Gujarati and they would argue with me about it. A lot of the Gujarati also went above my head sometimes – it was very colloquial. But it was a very good balance. The actors also managed that balance. Karan also added a lot of touches. Now I’m very rich in Gujarati idioms.

Kamakshi Bhaskarla: When you write a script and do the step outline process, how do you decide which points to include and which to exclude? What kind of conflict do you guys go through?

Vaibhav Vishal: Let not Saurav answer that because his answer would be, ‘I want to include everything.’

Saurav Dey: That’s true because our initial drafts per episode were some 50-60 pages, not 40-45 as it generally is. Yes, we include everything. As a thumb rule, you should include everything and not worry about the end product. In episode 10, there are some really important scenes that I loved, which we also loved shooting, which were there in the draft, but we took them out. It wasn’t working, and we had to find a certain rhythm to it.

If you find an interesting idea, it’s a goldmine, you should just put that in. Don’t think about baad me kya hone wala hai.

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