Four Writing lessons I learned from ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’

Source: Dharma Productions

I watched this movie in December, much after the buzz settled. It was not on the top of my list. I hadn’t watched a movie for a while after the loss of my father. But then I was tired of seeing Christmas joy on TV and turned to Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, since it was a movie that spoke of heartbreak.

I won’t comment on the movie, but I couldn’t help taking notes while I watched, like literally. There were certain things that I jotted down because, it’s an amazing lesson in creative writing. So what did I learn?

  • The Power of Dialogue

The movie has a powerful strength in its dialogue that is very refreshing for a desi romcom. I practically re-watched all the scenes, where the dialogues were so deep and nuanced. The underplay of emotions, the double entendre and the bitter-sweetness of it all, takes your breath away. The dialogue in ‘Ae Dil’ really swept me.

Take for instance this scene of SRK. If you understand Hindi you would know the depth of the delivery, I’m not sure of the subtitles.

But when he says, “Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe”

That translates to, “One way love has a different strength, like other relationships, it doesn’t get divided among two people. Only I have a right to it, only me.”

The whole exchange here is wow, but the power of the lines are super. The entire movie is rich in this area. So don’t underestimate the power of banter. Ae Dil is a masterclass in dialogue.

  • The Power of Poetry
Lot’s of people don’t believe in writing lyrical prose, while I stand with the other half on that.
The rhythm, the pace, the music of words and its language make a big difference, when you write. In this movie, you find a ton of poetry, probably because one of the protagonists is a singer and the other is a poet. Yet, the dialogue is beautifully poetic, using urdu shayari. That in itself, leads drama to the conversations.
I’ve heard several people comment,”People do not talk like this in real life- so the movie is crap.” This tells me, the person making this comment has zero creativity. Because there’s nothing to stop us from talking like this, with vocabulary that is rich and stunning. No one holds us back from expressing ourselves so creatively, baring the innermost expression of our soul, if we’re capable of doing so. Poetry is nothing but a beautiful arrangement of words. I’m sure adding it to our writing, can only give it more depth and strength.
I can’t find a video, but the airport scene, with Aishwarya Rai and Ranbir, explains this, where they’re talking about tears.
  • The Power of Backstory
There is very little backstory in the movie, the scantiest I would say. And it helped me realize, how important back story is. Who are the protagonists parents, why they have no support of a family? Where did they go to school, where do they work, what job do they do?
Ae Dil had faint mentions of backstory, but fails to build on a character’s past, so you end up having very cookie cutter characters with no layers to them. In movies, you have to cut extraneous material to focus on the story, so maybe that’s allowed. But in books, where you’re creating a three dimensional world, you need solid, textured backstory to keep the characters real and lifelike.

Otherwise it’s just another hero and heroine, going on about whatever, you owe it to your readers, to make your characters come alive.

Source:India Today
  • The Power of Content
I don’t know what the end goal of the movie was. What was the central message? Because the story was heading a particular direction and then veered off course, at the end. But I couldn’t help feeling, like I was reaching for something throughout.
In the book world, you would be tried for bloody murder if you took the cop out that KJo did with ‘Ae Dil.’ Because most stories have structure, readers are looking for HEA’s . They want to feel closure. And they’re not going to like shortcuts.
When bestselling author, Jodi Picoult’s book, “My Sisters Keeper,” came out, many people didn’t like the fact that the sister conveniently died and all the problems were over for the family, bringing to an end the transfusions and donations. But I’m sure, not tying up loose end would upset readers even more.
The content of your story is important from the first to the last page, it has to deliver on these three things.
What is the story?
What is the conflict?
What is the resolution to this conflict?

As you write, make sure the centrifugal force is turned towards these three things and not without. Is there a movie, that you’ve had a writing lesson from?

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