MUMBAI: With films like Stree, Ginny Weds Sunny, and ‘83 and web series such as The Family Man and Dahaad, screenwriter Sumit Arora has firmly established himself as a notable name in the industry.
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He’s the creative force behind many iconic comedic dialogues that frequently appear as memes on social media. Up next, he has a total of five new projects lined up ahead.
It all begins with Raj & DK’s Guns & Gulaabs, which is set to premiere on Netflix on August 18, followed by Shah Rukh Khan’s highly anticipated Jawan just three weeks later on September 7. Arora has written dialogues for both projects, each of which is distinctly different from the other.
Sumit Arora is teaming up with Raj and DK once again after Manoj Bajpayee’s much-loved The Family Man, and he emphasizes that their new show delves into an entirely different realm.
“Guns & Gulaabs is like a kind of world of Stree and has the small-town craziness and quirkiness, plus the nostalgia of the 90s. It was completely different from, say, working with Raj and DK on The Family Man, which had a setting in Bombay and a spy plot centered around a looming terror threat. This show is not at all in that category. It’s more about this small town world and the crime syndicate and the madness and quirkiness of the characters and all of that,” Arora says while describing the universe of this Netflix series, which features an ensemble cast including Rajkummar Rao, Dulquer Salmaan, Adarsh Gourav, Gulshan Devaiah, TJ Bhanu, and Shreya Dhanwanthary, among others.
When he came aboard Guns & Gulaabs, Raj & DK had already built the world along with Suman Kumar, their frequent collaborator who also wrote The Family Man with them.
“The world was already set when I was called. They had the first episode’s screenplay ready. They also had the story for all the other episodes. I read it, and it really took me into its world. I had not done a small-town comedy after Stree, so I was very kicked about it,”
Arora recounts, adding that writing dialogues for this series was like going back to his growing up years in Meerut. “My mama had an electronics shop, and I used to sit there quite often and hear those mechanics talk. They had a very colorful language and a lot of swag in the way they spoke. There’s a dialogue in the trailer where one of the characters says, ‘Bhaiya, Gulabganj me aaj aag barsei aag’, and then Rajkummar says, ‘Aag Nahi Kehar’. I think I must have heard this growing up in the shop because that’s how those people used to speak.”
And, how did he come to be a part of Shah Rukh Khan’s Jawan, the most-awaited mass action entertainer also starring Vijay Sethupathi and Nayanthara?
“There was a common friend of mine between Atlee and me. He introduced me to the director, Atlee. I went to meet him in Chennai. At that time, he was editing the film Bigil and was thinking of making a Hindi film. Back then, I had no idea what the film would be or who would star in it. We met, and we had a really wonderful conversation about the kind of films he wants to make. He asked me about my work as well. It was just a general meeting that we had, and that was it. When I came back, I got busy, and he also got busy with the editing of Bigil. Eventually, Bigil was released. I saw the film, and I messaged him, saying that I loved it so much. Then, after one and a half years, when he really had a written screenplay for Jawan, he reached out to me. I read it, and I was really happy to be a part of it, as it was a great opportunity for me,” recalls Arora, adding that one of the reasons he wanted to do this film was also to understand how mass films are made.
We asked him what he has learnt about ‘mass films’ after working with Atlee, who has made many blockbusters with Thalapathy Vijay, such as Theri, Mersal, and Bigil.
“I believe there are different schools of filmmaking that exist, just like how music has different gharanas (lineages), such as the Gwalior gharana, the Agra gharana, and the Patiala gharana. Certain filmmakers make family comedies, and certain filmmakers make action thrillers. Similarly, mass film is a very uniquely Indian gharana, and I really wanted to understand how it’s made. Basically, working with Atlee is like going to film school because he knows exactly what he wants and there’s a certain meter he operates in, and I learned so much working with them on the film. I was there on the sets, and every moment was a learning experience, picking up new rules of grammar that you are aware of but do not really know how they operate or how the mass moments are created. All of that was a completely new education for me, and I really take all of that back with me for the journey ahead.”
Working with Shah Rukh Khan is a moment to cherish for a lifetime for many, and it’s no different for Sumit Arora, who, just like SRK, started his career in television with shows like Chhoona Hai Aasmaan and Dil Mill Gaye before making his transition into films with Amar Kaushik’s horror-comedy, Stree (2018).
Sharing his SRK experience, the screenwriter says, “We would often have a lot of creative discussions, and he’s someone who is constantly thinking. Till the time he gives his shot, he is always thinking, What can he do better? How can he improve his lines? How can he deliver them better? He’s just so involved in the whole process of filmmaking, and you have to keep up with him and his energy.”
Arora knew that Shah Rukh would star in Jawan when he joined the film as a dialogue writer, so we asked him whether his approach to writing changes when he knows that a certain star is going to perform the dialogues he is writing.
“It definitely does make a difference. You cannot help but think that the lines you are writing will be delivered by the one and only superstar Shah Rukh Khan. So you have to think about how they will land. You constantly think about it, and then you think about how it sounds. Is it going with him and yet creating a new kind of impact? You have to constantly be aware of it while writing.”
Jawan and Guns & Gulaabs aside, Sumit Arora has also written Kabir Khan and Kartik Aaryan’s upcoming sports drama, Chandu Champion, which tells the fascinating true story of a man who refused to surrender.
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He has also written dialogues for Raj & DK’s Citadel India, starring Varun Dhawan and Samantha Ruth Prabhu, and Varun’s next film with Atlee, co-starring Keerthy Suresh and Wamiqa Gabbi. His lineup also includes Junglee Pictures’ next high-concept thriller, Click Shankar, set to be directed by Balaji Mohan.
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Credits – Pinkvilla
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