Yanush AHY

Thank you Yanush for taking the time to answer all of our questions. We are grateful for everything you have shared with us. At Oxford Script Awards we are wishing you a huge success with your next projects. Keep up the amazing work!

Hello Yanush, can you tell us about your background and how you got started in screenwriting?

I’m a South African, living in London. I attended the Film and Television film Institute of India in Poona. I had done an integrated course for two years which covered all aspects of filmmaking, including screenwriting. The final year covered direction. We had to write our own original scripts, do casting, direct and edit etc. While at the film Institute I wrote my first feature script and made a short trailer/pilot of it. It has not been easy to break into Bollywood or the South African film industry. I keep getting new Ideas and keep writing scripts. I have recently made short films which has won international awards.

What's your writing process like? How do you go about creating characters and developing a story?

I look at people on the tube or train and analyse their demeanour, their dress sense, hair style and their facial features. Then I imagine what their morning was like before they left home, what’s waiting for them at home at the end of the day and start to build a background to their existence. Their loves, their hates, their quirks, and their temper etc. A story automatically develops to be put in screenplay form.

Can you talk about a recent project you've worked on and the challenges you faced while writing it?

Mrs. Saxena at the Hotel Grand is a remake of the Hollywood film Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. Which is based on the novel with the same title by British author Elizabeth Taylor. It is set in London during the 1950’s. The 1st challenge was to get the remake rights. That done, the next challenge was to use the same story line, but set it in contemporary London, with different characters of a different cultural background. The original was set in a retirement hotel, the social housing system that does not exist any longer. I had to find a way that would suit the setting in a hotel. Thus, I came up with the idea of a flash flood where residents need to be rehoused. And it works well in the screenplay.

What do you think is the most important element of a great screenplay?

Writing about characters that are believable and that audiences can identify with.

How do you feel about the current state of the film industry and the role of screenwriters in it?

It forces screenwriters, who want to make a mark in the industry, to write stories that are CGI based. Anything can be cinematically achieved these days. This creates the big blockbusters. Human stories have great difficulty to get made.

How do you approach writing for different genres and audiences?

What I mention in point 5, I use some CGI in my touching human story.

How do you handle feedback and criticism?

I have no issue with it at all, in fact I welcome it.

Can you talk about any upcoming projects or collaborations you're excited about?

I’m trying to get finance for Mrs. Saxena. I’m selecting British and subcontinent actors. It will be a very unusual ensemble.

How do you see the role of screenwriting evolving in the future?

There is always going to be the big blockbusters and the independent film… that will never change.

What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters?

Use your imagination, go wild with your thoughts but keep it in limits of respectfulness for the audiences. Let them walk away feeling happy and thrilled.