Cinema is a fantastic medium, says Basharat Peer
LAHORE: “I still see myself as a reporter,” said Kashmiri journalist Basharat Peer on Tuesday.
Peer was speaking at Faiz Ghar about his experience of writing the script of Bollywood film Haider in collaboration with filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj. He said opting to become a journalist was the closest thing to writing. Peer said Bhardwaj had approached him as he wanted to adapt another work of Shakespeare’s to a film.
He said he had influenced him to adapt Hamlet instead of King Lear after learning about the plot. Peer said the process of situating the work in the context of Kashmir had been time consuming but extremely interesting. He said it had taken the two a few months to write and finalise the film’s screenplay.
Peer said he had always been interested in cinema. “I used to watch films while others were busy with other things,” he said. He said writing a screenplay was a completely new experience for him. Peer said the writer was bereft of the expository space afforded by books in cinema.
He said this made it necessary for a few words to convey a great amount of information. Peer said the way a scene had been shot and the dialogue delivery of an actor could improve an otherwise lacklustre screenplay.
He clarified that Haider’s screenplay had not been based on personal experience. Peer said certain sequences had been exaggerated for dramatic effect.
He said the story of the film depicted the experience of an entire generation compelled into becoming educational refugees. Peer said leaving their place of birth was always a traumatic experience for boys who would find themselves in the midst of a culture, area and climate they were not accustomed to on reaching university.
The Kashmiri journalist said cinema was a fantastic medium. He said he had gotten plenty of offers that he had turned down. Peer said they were not the kind of stories he was interested in narrating. He said the written word would always wield greater influence than cinema as complex and time-honoured ideas had to be disseminated by pen.