Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thought for the Day - When You're Defensive, You're Not Owning Your Life Fully

 We discussed how owning your decision, your actions, is the way to feel confident and to move decisively on the right path. How do we know we are owning our action or not?

The key is this - if we are defending ourselves, justifying ourselves or explaining ourselves, we are not owning our actions. When we own our actions - we find no need to defend, justify or explain. We find no need to blame others or to make them see our point of view. We know why we did what we did and we are fine with it - there's no good or bad.

If there's an iota of wanting to justify, explain or defend, look at yourself. Ask yourself - what are you not owning? (And when you don't own you have lost the plot, you have no conviction.)     

The first filter to know whether you are owning anything is this - are you defensive? If you are, look again and see where you are not fully owning your actions.

Artist Date 3 - Westside Mall

 As part of my Artist Dates I decided to walk through a mall and chose Westside at Somajiguda to spend a couple of hours and perhaps pick up a few things. It was one of those days when the Met department had predicted heavy rains so the roads were empty and I had a quick and easy drive. Even Westside was empty so I had a good time browsing through.

I picked up a few T shirts and then went up to Landmark to browse through its sadly diminishing book collection. I picked up a book. I took my own time going through and realised I could have spent more time if I wanted. There once used to be a small cafe in Westside and I loved drinking coffee and eating samosas at the Westside at Abids and Landmark always had bean bags etc to read books. But now all those frills are gone and its strictly business.

Had a good time overall. Forgot to take pics though.     

Anjali - A Dog Bed for Akela

 The love affair continues! Anjali and Akela!

Akela sleeps at the back of the house on an old blanket. Anjali loves haning her around so she takes her books and table and sits with Akela and studies. Akela of course sits dutifully by her side or lolls off to sleep. 

Akela snug in her new dog bed 

In the mornings Anjali meets Akela and goes out for a short walk in the street next to our house. Akela goes off foraging so Anjali comes back. When Anjali returns from school she calls out and Akela comes running from the back of the house, happy to see her mistress. Of course when Anjali goes out Akela steps out with a protective eye on her.

Anjali's birthday is coming and she has been buying stuff on the net for herself - clothes and stuff. And she could not forget Akela could she? So she ordered a dog bed all on her own for dear old Akela - spending all of 500 bucks of her money. 

To see Akela snuggle into her bed was such a sight. To see her mistress next to her patting her was just another. The love Anjali has for these lives, for life in general, is so nice to see and experience. It's beautiful.  

Thought for the Day - Ownership is Your True Guide

 When you're in doubt or a dilemma or even when you are in spaces where you feel misunderstood or unsure - there is only one question to ask. 

Qutb Shahi tombs Hyderabad

What do I want from this and what do I want to do?

The answer is the right answer because it is completely your answer, your way. You own it. When you own it you are not looking anywhere else for validation. It does not matter what the other person wants or thinks or feels - you know what you want, think and feel and that' good enough.

All drama comes from the other person understanding what we are doing 'for them'. When we feel they don't we get upset. But when it becomes our 'own' story as in 'I am doing it because I want to' then we feel good by ourselves without validation. We know why we did it.

For every single dilemma or drama in your life - big or small - ask this one question. 

What do I want from this and what do I want to do?    

Then just do it. All else fades off.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Not Just Bollywood - Tula Goenka

 This is a treasure of information for anyone interested in the craft of cinema. Tula Goenka interviews some of the top directors of Indian cinema and tries to understand their process and their thinking. It's very interesting to see their journeys, what inspired them and what they think of cinema.

The book is split into five sections - North (sub divided into Popular Hindi cinema, Parallel cinema, Multiplex cinema), South, East, West and the World. I am going to see how many of their films I watched. 

Popular Hindi cinema or Bollywood has interviews of Yash Chopra (younger brother of BR Chopra who gave him an year at trying his hand at cinema before foreign education - Dil to Paagal Hai, Darr, Lamhe, Chandni, Silsila, Trishul, Dewaar, Ittefaq), Subhash Ghai (first at home into movies - Vidhaata, Hero, Meri Jung, Ram Lakhan, Karma, Saudagar, Khal Nayak, Pardes), Vidhu Vinod Chopra (Khamosh, Parinda, Mission Kashmir), Rakesh Roshan (comes from a film family - Karan Arjun, Kaho Naa Pyaar hai, Koi Mil Gaya, Krish), Sooraj Barjatya (Rajshri Productions - Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun), Ashutosh Gowariker (started as an actor - Pehla Nasha, Lagaan, Swades, What's your Raashee), Farhan Akhtar (film lineage - Dil Chahta Hai, Don), Imtiaz Ali (Socha Na Tha, Jab We met, Rockstar, Highway). 

Parallel cinema includes interview of Shyam Benegal (advertising and then film), Mahesh Bhatt, Govind Nihalani (worked with Shyam Benegal), Prakash Jha, Tanuja Chandra (huge film and creative lineage - mom wrote for films, brother Vikram is a famous novelist, sister Anupama is a film critic). 

Indie cinema includes interviews of Ram Gopal Varma (bad boy), Nagesh Kukunoor (Hyderabad Blues), Kaizad Gustad, Anurag Kashyap, Parvati Balagopalan, Onir.

South has interviews of Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Girish Kasaravalli. 

East has Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghose and Rituparno Ghosh. 

West has Jabbar Patel and World has Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay).

Wonderful stuff. Thanks Abhinay for sharing. I loved reading it.

I Adore Jai - Book Review

 'I Adore Jai' is an anthology of over 78 plus articles about former Test cricketer and icon, ML Jaisimha, compiled by Jayanthi Jaisimha. Contributors include Sunil Gavaskar, GR Vishwanath, EAS Prasanna, Ravi Shastri, Kapil Dev, Shivlal Yadav, Azharuddin, Asif Iqbal, Abbas Ali Baig, VVS Laxman, R Sridhar, K Srikkanth, V Ramnarayan, Mohan Guruswamy, Michael Dalvi, MV Narasimha Rao, Purnima Rau, Sadanand Vishwanath, PR Man Singh, Harsha Bhogle, Saad Bin Jung and others. Articles by family, friends, school and college mates, fellow cricketers, administrators show glimpses of the person MLJ was and why the book is still relevant two decades after he passed away. 

Notion Press, Rs. 300

 The Foreword is by Sharmila Tagore who was married to MLJ's great friend MAK Pataudi - and she recalls how he was her cricketing idol and how she had left him a note when she went to watch a match as a young girl, and how she once broke up a party when MLJ and Tiger Pat were in the middle of some midnight revelry rather curtly and MLJ left in a huff. Gavaskar wrote about how he became a fan when he fist saw a picture of MLJ when he was selected for the Indian team's tour of England, and his first sight of him watching a match from the other side of the fence in Bombay. GRVishwanath recounted how MLJ and he walked the roads of Bangalore at midnight singing songs going to and from MLJs hotel to GRVs house. Kapil Dev wrote about how he wished he had played with MLJ, Asif Iqbal says he was his boyhood hero.  Shastri about how MLJ convinced Kapil to let Shastri open in place of Gavaskar. Shivlal Yadav wrote of how MLJ gave him a tip on how to get Allan Border out and it worked. Azharuddin spoke of how he learned three mantras for success in cricket - know your importance to the team, know your role and know how to deliver your role -  and how he got a test hundred after a lean patch after a chat with MLJ (if you had technical problems you would not have come this far). Siraj Attari spoke of how MLJ woke up early after a late night to go and give a tip to Azhar who was going through a lean patch. PR Mansingh spoke of how he was so good as a schoolboy cricketer, how MLJ slept on the floor at Madras with the University team even after he had played for India, how he carried PR's bat to Australia and how PRM convinced Jai not to retire when he was sacked from South Zone captaincy. 

MLJ was equally good at tennis, badminton and cricket (and even wrestling as Anand Lakshminarsu wrote). He was fit and strong - would do weight training, bench  presses, punch the boxing bag, could do hand stands and traverse over 100 feet. He could sing wonderfully well (Belafonte, Sinatra, Armstrong) and there was an incident when they went on to the stage in the middle of a film at Dreamland theatre in Secunderabad and sang and danced and performed - high spirits. K Srikkanth wrote about how he addressed him as 'sir' and was rebuked - 'just call me Jai'. The lady who was asked to chaperone him and Junie aunty during their college days spoke of how he would give her tickets to cricket matches or tennis matches and disappear with his love, having dropped off the chaperone. Govind Raj wrote of how he scratched the number of MLJ's car on his uncle's car in sheer awe, and got an earful for that. Saad Bin Jung wrote about how MLJ put himself out because he believed in the 18 year old and made him open against the West Indies and he scored a hundred.  Dolly Thakore remembers accompanying her heartthrob, "sitting affectionately close" in a rickshaw in Kanpur. Venkatapathi Raju wrote about how MLJ's Marredpally house was where he learned so many things - it was always open for friends and family. Sadanand Vishwanath wrote about how MLJ (whom he refers to as father) taught him how snooker was just like life - you have to think ahead and position the white cue for the next shot! His love for sambar, music, drink, a good time, cricket, mischief. 

MLJ's older son Vivek Jaisimha who was my captain at MCC and when I made my first class debut wrote about how little things meant a lot to his father (he let Vivek drive the car on a highway when he was fourteen, understood his emotions and calmed him down gently). Vidyuth, my best buddy and chief encourager, wrote a wonderful line that sums it all for me - of MLJ saying on his 60th birthday "I am tired of being Jaisimha'. And on and on, anecdotes and anecdotes that give so many facets of MLJ.       

There are extracts from letters written by MLJs peers and friends - Shyam Benegal's handwritten note after MLJs passing away to Junie aunty is a gem - about how he knew MLJ through school and college and how MLJ modeled himself on his great hero Robert Mitchum (including how he held his cigarette between his lips), evenings they spent as young men at Khurshid Rstaurant and Coffee House discussing movies and cricket.     

I wrote a piece too. About my experiences with him. I always felt I missed asking him about how he became so good at the game, his understanding, his philosophy and kick myself for not having the sense to ask those questions when I knew him. Reading this book gives me a lot of answers because there are so many perspectives given by so many people and I feel I know him so much better now. 

Nothing more poignant and insightful than Junie aunty's end piece where she says she now discovered a new husband from the memories of others and 'now bow before him which I never did before'. And in the same vein she jokes about how they were always known as the Late Jaisimhas in their friends circle. And also makes a mention of his sexy bottom! More than anything else I simply love the fact that Junie aunty got this brilliant idea of putting together so many thoughts from different perspectives of Uncle Jai so we all know what he was like in his various roles. It must have been a very fulfilling exercise for her, a work of love that presents the love of her life as he really was, and I am so glad for her that she did it. She put in a lot of effort - the way she sat me down and ran me through each thought of mine that I wrote so it is captured fully - showed how much this book meant to her, that every thought is captured just right. Having written a biography and a few bio sketches I know how wonderful it is to know a person through so many eyes, what they meant to others - we only know one part. For aunty, this process of discovery, or rather rediscovery as she puts it so aptly, is probably an ode to their great love story. Behind every story in the book we can see her love for him shine through and my admiration for her only grew so much more. Of course, I know Vidyuth, as always helped her through it all in his own stoic manner as I know Vidika did too!   

I must share my journey with the Jaisimhas briefly before I end this piece. I had heard of ML Jaisimha as a young cricketer in Hyderabad in the late 70s. My first meeting with the Jaisimhas was when I played with MLJs younger son Vidyuth while representing the Hyderabad Under 15 in 1982 in Bangalore (I think I saw uncle for the first time when he came to the railway station to see off Vidyuth). We won that tournament and both of us represented South Zone Under 15 in Calcutta. Then Vidyuth and I spent a month together attending the BCCI camp for South Zone Under 15. We became good friends - enough to call each other over phone and talk random things about music or watch random films together. When I did not have a team to play for the next year, Vidyuth told me to play for Marredpally Cricket Club under his father in the A Division. I am certain I would not have played any further cricket if not for that move. Under Uncle Jai I grew into a much better bowler, cricketer and human than I was, fast enough to play Under 19, 22, 25 and be in match winning teams. While with MCC we had a champion team - Uncle Jai, Vivek Jaisimha, Pawan, Sunil Phillips, Imtiaz, Vijay Bhasker, Vidyuth Jaisimha. Srinivas Chakravarthy, Venkatapathi Raju, Sanjay and your truly. Of course Arvind Rao and Santosh Reddy as well. When we lost the Inter University matches first round at Calicut it was Uncle Jai who called an emergency meeting of the selection committee and decided to include me (on debut) and Ehtesham from the University side in the Ranji side. I picked up one wicket and four wickets in the two innings against Andhra and justified his faith in me. Of course, my learning has been so much more than just cricket in the time I spent with all of them. Uncle, Aunty, Vivek and Vidyuth have welcomed all of us into their home and hearts ever since and now we feel like we're part of the family.

The book is published by Notion Press and presented by the ML Jaisimha Sports Foundation which aims to keep Uncle Jai's dream of helping underprivileged cricketers by providing free coaching. The proceeds from the book will go to the Foundation. The book is priced at Rs. 300. You can buy it on amazon at this link  

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Thought for the Day - Vision is Nothing But Stretching Your Small Idea to Its Fullest Potential

 Another view point on potential and thinking long term. Our vision for anything comes to full potential only if we can sit and see the entire journey, all possibilities and more, for our idea. If we only look at bringing it out it does not grow - we need to see it at full potential and give it a chance to get there. That is the hall mark of a visionary.

A prospective client had asked me if I could do a training program for him. I normally say yes and am stuck only at delivering this program. But the other day I thought about what he wanted and asked myself - how can I really help this person with what I have - and I felt that a longer term engagement with his team would have best results. I could really capture my knowledge into proper modules and get the entire team on board and really make a difference. I could throw in some coaching as well. That is the idea at bigger potential than what I saw.

That is what visionaries see. They can stretch a small idea and see the bigger picture. We can do it too - take your idea and stretch it to all possibilities and voila, you'll see exciting possibilities. 

Now, take our own life for example. If we are asked at what capacity are we operating we might say 30-40%. That's because we are only seeing that much -  short term. But if we think long term and think of all possibilities that we can think of we really get into good space with bigger and better ideas for our life.

Go long term. Go big. Stretch that idea to full potential and see a beautiful picture emerge.     

Bell Bottom - Movie

 Akshay Kumar plays a RAW agent who successfully pulls off a covert operation in Dubai and frees all passengers on a plane hijacked by terrorists - many thanks to a timely sandstorm. (We later figure that his wife is also a RAW agent and he doesn't seem to know about it. That looked a bit dubious.) Anyway why Bell Bottom is the main question one is left with about the movie? 

Apart from wearing bell bottoms and riding an old scooter RAW operatives never reveal their real names - the code name for this one - Bell Bottom.  


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

And Life Blooms

 I was getting into the car when I noticed this one on the pavement and realised that life always finds a way. This tiny little thing, stands up tall surrounded by these stone slabs.

Good for you!

Artist Date 2 - Me and my Artist go to Beauty Green

 So for my second artist date me and my artist, a rather quiet and withdrawn chap I realised, who easily takes the backseat when any other thought comes in, headed off to the Beauty Green Resort in Shamshabad which is managed by my friend Koni. It's a quit place and has a lot of space and almost no people around so I decided to head there. Another reason was that the drive itself is an hour long so I could spend time listening to my favorite music.


So off we went at 430 or so and got stuck in traffic but since we were in no hurry it didn't bother me much. I went straight to the resort listening to Pink Floyd, ACDC, Deep Purple and some Golden Oldies like Yummy Yummy, Boxer, Mrs Robinson and so on. While going there I stopped to pick up some rice and some biscuits for the couple who adopted Sona and Zor. At the resort I parked the car and then took off.

Off the beaten track

I wanted to walk around the resort but then my artist was game for a jog and we jogged along on those empty roads to the main gate, then to the by roads, all the way to the other gate and then back. It took a good 40 minutes and though I could have stretched it I felt it was good. I went and sat by the pool and enjoyed half an hour of peace and tranquility. 
A nice cottage in this plot

I ate the butta I carried with me. Sometime around that time Koni arrived. The drive and the jog together with the last half hour gave me a good two and a half hours with myself.Maybe I felt I could have done without the music but that's ok. I had packed for the night in case I felt like staying back but a noisy lot came by and I decided to return.
Another small one in this plot

My insights were interesting. First and foremost, that I do not give my artist much time and thought. I frequently saw myself putting others ahead and thinking of stuff like that and realised I needed to pull it back and focus on the artist who was disappearing very quickly into the background. 

The artist decided to click this

And when I put my focus on him I found him quite interesting, suggesting ideas like sitting by the pool, taking my shoes off and walking on the lawns bare foot, staying back until I felt I needed to go instead of going because I am bound by time.

Catching the twilight time with my artist

Koni and I had a nice quiet discussion listening to some fine old music by Def Leppard, Kool and the Gang and so on and then I ate a nice hot meal and returned - a nice, slow drive with my artist. I have to name him now. I'll wait - it will come to me.

Clearly I am enjoying meeting him and spending time with him. And I like listening to those gentle ideas that pop in when I am with him. (Or is it a her?)          

Monday, September 20, 2021

I Adore Jai - The Anthology on the One and Only MLJ is out!

 Finally the book 'I Adore Jai', a loving compilation of 78 articles written by those who knew the one and only ML Jaisimha - as a player, a person, a father, a captain, a coach, a person, an uncle and so many other roles that he played - compiled with great care by Junie aunty (Mrs Jayanthi Jaisimha), is out. Contributors to this compilation include names like Sharmila Tagore, Sunil Gavaskar, GR Vishwanath, Prasanna, Govind Raj, V Ramnarayan, S Vishwanath, Kapil Dev, Ravi Sastri, Azharuddin, VVS Laxman, Venkatapathi Raju, MV Narasimha Rao, Shivlal Yadav. K Srikkanth, PR Man Singh, R Sridhar, Harsha Bogle, Saad Bin Jung, Dolly Thakore (who rode in a rickshaw with MLJ) - the family Vivek, Vidyuth. Mona, Ritika - and others.

I contributed a piece too, recalling the cherished times I spent with him. The proceeds of the sale of the book will go to the MLJaisimha Foundation which aims to provide free coaching to deserving talent. Here's the link to the book on amazon.

It is an interesting insight into a wonderful person. Buy and read.

Canteen Fundas - To 10x Your Results, Try OKRs

How to 10x your growth - for individuals and teams! Powerful idea.

E-Canteen Fundas: How to 10x your growth and land your objectives with OKRs

Pro Tip: Set 10x objectives in areas of greatest importance to you. 10x goals force you to utilise all resources at your disposal to full potential and find creative ways to achieve your objective

‘I want to get out of the rut,’ said Rinku. ‘I want a method to improve my performance by 10 times using the same resources.’

‘That’ll help my basketball team too,’ said Rahul.

‘Of course,’ said Rakesh. ‘There’s a process called OKRs that John Doerr wrote about in his book ‘Measure what matters’.’

‘What’re OKRs bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘Objectives and Key Results,’ said Rakesh. ‘OKRs make you focus and commit to what’s most important and go for a 10x leap in that area. So, identify 3-4 Objectives for your team or yourself in areas of highest impact - objectives that seem impossible, scary, big enough to propel you to the next level. Things you’d love to happen but believe are beyond you. So, what’re your 10x Objectives?’

‘An Ivy League school admission,’ said Rinku.

‘Winning the Inter-Collegiate championship!’ said Rahul. ‘It’s scary to even say it.’

‘Then they’re good objectives,’ smiled Rakesh. ‘They’re scary, exciting, clear 10x objectives with concrete results.’

‘But it’s just wishful thinking bhaiyya,’ said Rahul.’

‘No Rahul, that’s how OKRs work,’ said Rakesh. ‘Hard goals are better than easy goals because they force you to prioritise focus areas, to leverage all resources creatively to achieve your objective. It’s not about hoping, it’s a matter of execution.’

‘But how exactly bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.

‘Like man found a way to go to the moon once he decided to go,’ laughed Rakesh. ‘Your KRs are your How. For every objective, write 3-4 Key Results in specific, time bound, measurable terms. KRs are milestones. When all KRs are achieved, your objective should be achieved. So what are your Key Results?’

‘Play better, practice harder?’ asked Rahul.

‘Study harder?’ asked Rinku.

‘Be specific when writing your KRs,’ said Rakesh. ‘Don’t list activities – measure their impact. For example, Rahul can improve points scored by 15 per cent, reduce points conceded by tightening defense by 15 per cent, improve ball possession by 15 per cent, over three months. Or, Rinku can shoot for top 10 per cent in qualifying tests, write a personal statement that gets 10/10 feedback, and fulfill conditions in six months. Each Key Result achieved takes you closer to your objective.’

‘So we put all effort towards achieving KRs,’ said Rinku.

‘Yes, once you set OKRs, concentrate on execution, on process,’ said Rakesh. ‘Make your individual and group OKRs public to the team to track progress and accountability. That way you stretch all available resources to achieve your objective. OKRs should push you to full potential.’

‘Thanks bhaiyya,’ said Rahul. ‘I’ll pitch it to our team right away. It’s a simple, elegant and powerful idea.’

‘I agree bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘I’m setting OKRs in all important areas too.’

Pro Tip: Set 10x objectives in areas of greatest importance to you. 10x goals force you to utilise all resources at your disposal to full potential and find creative ways to achieve your objective.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Assistant - Movie

 2019. A day in the life of an assistant in a film production company in New York and the abuse she puts up with. Very interestingly made.

Anjali - And How to Use OKRs

 So Anjali joined us bunch of adults when we were setting our OKRs. While we all set our OKRs which looked rather vague and difficult, she had great clarity on her OKRs. As you can see in her blog her first OKR was to get three pieces published by January 2022. Now that's a good Objectives (we even discussed that maybe she should look at an international publication to push the Objective further)

Big Rocks

She set her KRs' accordingly (I am copying from her blog here) 

- Blog weekly, i.e, have 16 blogs up by the end of the year
- Read Quality Books every week (Starting with Wuthering Heights)
- Identify Students' Newspapers / Magazines / Poetry Journals that take submissions by Sep 15th
- Send submissions to the School Blog
- Write something daily (Thoughts, Journal, Blog, poetry, anything)
- Get feedback on the writing from non-biased people who give constructive criticism


Idea in place she started writing in earnest - two articles and three poems. She found out addresses of Young World and a couple of children's newspapers and magazines to send her pieces. And then - this is the best part of execution - she went through her cousin's blog (she writes too) and found an international website (heart and mind) which accepts poetry.

She emailed her poems and voila - by evening they accepted one poem and were fine with accepting another subjecting to changing one word. One week into her OKRs she has an international publisher under her belt.

The Key
To me the key lay in her proactive execution. Writing her stuff, finding the emails and other possible links to publishers from all known sources and actually approaching them directly. How much ever we say people don't take this seriously - most times big achievements are a matter of simply doing the work, simply executing, taking care of the big rocks.
Brilliant job Anjali.

Her other Objectives are
1) Objective : To get 100% in every Term-I exam while enjoying the process
2. Objective: To live a healthy lifestyle and reach my ideal fitness level while having fun
3. Objective: To feel complete and figure out what it takes for me to be happy

You can check out her poems as well.

Anjali is the first in the group to have accomplished a major outcome in her OKRs. So cheers to that.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Some Interesting Insights into Screenplay - Sheetal Kiran Peta

Sheetal Kiran Peta shared these insights with me the other day. I know him as someone who is deeply interested in cinema and stories and writing and we have been in touch for over a decade now, on and off. In recent conversations when we discussed stories and screenplay he mentioned how he consults/helps screenwriters and is also doing work in films and web series. Here then are his insights which I am sharing with his permission.I find them quite helpful and have asked for a meeting with him to put my story through his framework. 

This is a blog he writes - has some really interesting stuff.

These are the points Sheetal put together to discuss illustrated by the Titanic example. Very helpful and useful. Thanks Sheetal for giving me permission to publish these. I am hoping it will help other story writers.

Theme – Plot Point (Plot Turns) - Exercise for Screenplay Writers

Some important questions around Theme:

1.       What is your story about? (Remember this is not a question about the plot).



2.       What is the world of the story? (Morality, values, time, region etc.)



3.       What’s the theme of your story? (Write one single line that explains your theme in a full sentence. Remember this is subject to change over a period writing, and perhaps during filmmaking and post production too).



4.       Who is (are) your protagonists? (Is it single protagonist / multi protagonist? Or are there multiple protagonists. Do your protagonist’s character traits relate to your theme? How?)



5.       Who / what is your antagonist? (What is the single important value of this antagonist, irrespective of whether they know it or don’t? Please check if this directly opposes your theme stated above. This will change as and when the theme changes.)





Plot Point vis à vis - Theme

Plotpoint / Turn

Event / Scene / Conflict

Theme Evolution




Opening Scene:



Possible hint (or even direct statement) at what we are going to discuss in film.


Inciting Incident




The Key Scene which puts the protagonist into the middle of things. (Protagonist is often reluctant or forced to take up. However, in many cases he/she willingly pursues a goal)


Despite the theme’s obvious invisibility, this moment is the defining beginning of the thematic conflict.



Plot Point 1



The moment of discovery in the protagonist’s journey that defines the intensity of his / her approach.


Theme based evaluation of where the protagonist stands.



Mid-point approach. (Most for Indian commercial cinema)


The moments building anticipation towards the midpoint.





The scene which redirects the protagonist’s intensity towardsthe goal in case it was missing previously. Or re-establishes the intensity.


Establish the Complexity of the theme in opposition to the values of the antagonist.



Post midpoint hook (only for Indian commercial cinema, for post interval interest)




Reestablish theme based on its complexity (though not always necessary).


Plot Point 2



Scenes where conflicts gather momentum and losses (thematic, value based or results of actions) are felt by both protagonist &antagonist.


Thematic realities / conflicts come to the fore, visually (but with foreshadowing dialogue)





A point of no return. All is lost. The protagonist is left to question every action of his (or hers).



The values of antagonism have won over the core theme of the story.


Climax (followed by denouement if any)


Scenes in which the protagonist recognizes his/her faults, lessons learnt from the journey thus far and acts swiftly to unburden the loss of failure, felt at maximum cost.


Thematic justification – root cause for resolution in the climax.



Theme – Plot Point (Plot Turns) - Exercise for Screenplay Writers – Example Document - Titanic

Some important questions around Theme:

1.       What is your story about? (Remember this is not a question about the plot).

The film Titanic is about the end of Victorian Era based Class systems (from Late 18th century till the beginning of 20th century) and how it affected people on both sides of the spectrum.


2.       What is the world of the story? (Morality, values, time, region etc.)

The world of Titanic is an era where rapid industrialization has taken place across the world, though UK and its friends adhered strictly to Victorian Era based class differences. The difference between rich and the poor was marked heavily. The rich enjoyed extreme riches, dressed heavily and had strict rules of social behavior. The society - strictly patriarchal, with women expected to play by the rules of the society, because they didn’t have a means to earn or keep property unless given to them by the male members of the family, mostly father or a husband.

3.       What’s the theme of your story? (Write one single line that explains your theme in a full sentence. Remember this is subject to change over a period writing, and perhaps during filmmaking and post production too).

Only true love bestows inner freedom, the will to love and the strength to move away from the clutches and conditioning of the society. (The true treasure of life is true love which gives us inner freedom, hope and the will to live.)


4.       Who is (are) your protagonists? (Is it single protagonist / multi protagonist? Or are there multiple protagonists. Do your protagonist’s character traits relate to your theme? How?)

Jack Dawson –a financially poor, free at heart artist from London, who yearns to go to the USA to find growth.

Rose DeWitt – a girl from rich family; lost her father recently and is engaged to be wed to a rich businessman, but struggling to come to terms with herself and her society. Depressed and hence suicidal at the beginning.


5.       Who / what is your antagonist? (What is the single important value of this antagonist, irrespective of whether they know it or don’t? Please check if this directly opposes your theme stated above. This will change as and when the theme changes.)

The strong Victorian Era principled society – which includes her fiancé, her mom, designers of the Titanic and most of the society that she travels with.

The core belief of this society is that – grandeur, opulence and strict adherence to the principles of the society are good enough to hide the reality of life and offer the necessary and the ONLY means to lead a happy life.



Plot Point vis à vis - Theme

Plotpoint / Turn

Event / Scene / Conflict

Theme Evolution




Opening Scene: A bunch of seadivers, looking for a lost jewel, ‘Heart of the Ocean’, find a painting of a naked woman – wearing the ‘heart of the ocean’. They want to know what happened to it.


Searching for a lost treasure in search of happiness.


Inciting Incident



Jack saves a suicidal Rose from her suicide attempt. 


Under the garb of ‘cute meet / save the cat’ scene, the scene plays out the themes of nature of free willed people (who don’t mind taking risky decisions out of life’s experience, while it is the pressure of the high-class society that drives few to suicide).


Plot Point 1 A



Jack is invited to the rich people’s dinner


Jack is out of place in the high-class society. He carries himself well, except Rose sees him needing breathing space too (you wanna go to a real party huh!)



Plot Point 1 B


Jack invites Rose to his section of the Titanic


The so-called lower deck people are joy to be with, despite lack of high-class manners. They know how to have fun.


Mid-point approach. (Most for Indian commercial cinema)


The moments building anticipation towards the midpoint. Rose asks Jack to paint her nude.


It is obvious that Jack and Rose are falling in love, but both know what they are getting into.




Jack and Rose kiss on the far end of Titanic, away from the lower and higher class, and make love in a car – driven by chauffer but owned by the rich. It is around this time that the Titanic hits the iceberg.


Where people break free from their class distinctions, there is going to be violence. And the conflict gets real with the protagonists’ expression of love for each other and the accident it causes.



Post midpoint hook (only for Indian commercial cinema, for post interval interest)







Reestablish theme based on its complexity (though not always necessary).


Plot Point 2A



Even as Titanic sinks, Jack is blamed for theft and Rose goes to save him.


Thematic realities / conflicts come to the fore, visually (but with foreshadowing dialogue). It is the rich who can blame and cause death easily.



Plot Point 2B



A woman (Rose’s mother?) asks if there are separate safety boats for the rich and lower-class people! This causes Rose to realize she has to escape this society.



Re-establishes theme, time and again, bringing out the nature of people. But this time it forces two people to remain with each (out of love).




Even as the Titanic sinks, Jack saves Rose, but eventually dies.



Rose is left with the same option of dying – in the same situation when she first met Jack. But obviously the journey with him has changed her.




Scenes in which the protagonist recognizes his/her faults, lessons learnt from the journey thus far and acts swiftly to unburden the loss of failure, felt at maximum cost.


Rose decides to live and calls for help. Even when she gets a chance to go back to her fiancé, she changes her name and moves away from her society, acting dead. She lives a full life.




The jewel of the ocean has always been with Rose!


Final truth - true treasure is a heart that has discovered love and the freedom inside.


Though this is more helpful if someone watches the film - Shades of the Heart (an off beat South Korean Film). But I try to cover as much about plot and structure within the post.

Anjali - A Poem from Her Blog

Anjali's poem on her recent experience with Akela and co!

Young and fierce, the bitch lay

Looking amongst the bushes

Each rustle sending a chill in her spine

Of something wild and vicious

With fur of golden wheat

And eyes that captured the world

She had a growl of rumbling thunder

When a threat bound onward

Four little balls of flesh

Suckled unto her

Starving herself,

She had no respite

A human arrived one day

Stood far and stood

For hours until she got close to her

and finally her puppies had love

Now they had a home

With humans for lord's sake

They were one of the lucky ones

For they had friends after all

Golden Wheat

Sona, darling!

Is there not the World in these eyes?

Rest in Peace, Zindagi

Her puppies grew big and playful

And jumped around the pots

And stole their way into the hearts

Of every human on the block

Yet there was always a fear

A Fear of something unknown

Until one day it came true

And into the dark went one young 'un

Another was injured

And the girl could not take it anymore

The pup stayed inside, 

And all her dreams were realised

But she had to part too, with her other little sister

For the human family had to be preserved

Heart ache like never before

As she had never had to lose

Something so full of life and love

And she had never had to choose

The puppies now live in bliss

With loving owners on a farm

But the bitch with the fur of golden wheat

Who turned my life upside down

Will continue to persist