I‘m from Germany and my name is Bassanti Pathak (yes, I‘ve watched Sholay and no, I was not named after Hema Malini‘s character, but after my grandmother). I got into films when I wrote and directed a short film at a university in the USA and I have been writing scripts ever since. In the last year or so, more and more of the projects I‘ve been approached with are India-based or have Indian content, something I like very much. My scripts vary in genre, but whether spec or on demand, all of them have a comedic note to them.
When I was offered a place at the Green Screen Lab, I was very excited at the opportunity to participate at an Indian script writing workshop. I knew it would mean getting a chance to focus intensively on my own work as well as the opportunity to discuss my story with various mentors from different backgrounds. Over and above that, I was sure that the Lab would provide me with the chance to learn and grow in an environment that I feel closely connected to because of my father being an Indian.
The Lab did all that I hoped it would. We‘re now more than half-way through our workshop and I really don‘t want to go home. The whole experience has been absolutely fantastic.
This is the second scriptwriting workshop I‘m attending, but there have been many “firsts“ for me – first time in Orissa, first time on a school bus, first time meeting someone from Manipur, a place I‘d love to visit, because I‘ve done research on its history. Today, we visited Konark temple, which – needless to say – was a first, too! A great experience and it‘s nice to know that I‘ve now been to a place a lot of my Indian friends and family members haven‘t seen yet. After this trip, everyone was exhausted, but still, we all went back for an afternoon session of writing. I think it‘s great how focused everyone is, and I particularly admire the actors for giving it their all, even after a tiring half-day of exploring Orissa.
I got so much out of the feedback my mentors and peers gave me. And the actors lab has been nothing short of perfect: I laughed, I cried, and I never thought a mouse that doesn‘t speak could be the funniest part of an ensemble. My story Pincha- My Talking Dog“ – is about a little village girl from Kumaon who goes on an adventure with her talking dog in order to save her elder sister. Liguri – the mouse in question – is only a minor character, but after Varun‘s acting, I felt she should get a film of her own.
I feel that through the stories of the participants from all over India, I got to know the writers very well and learned more about the country. As the only non-Indian (or half-Indian), I‘m even more excited to be part of this very talented group of Indian filmmakers.
I will miss all the wonderful people I‘ve met. I will miss not sharing my room anymore. I will even miss being asked “Tumhara nam kya hai, Basanti?“ (What is you name, Basanti?) at least five times a day.
Thanks to everyone involved for making this such a great experience!