The response to the whistle-worthy dialogues that writer Abbas Tyrewala created for Pathaan is overwhelming. In an interview with Indian Express, Tyrewala goes in-depth on the writing process for the mega-blockbuster, including how ‘Pathaan’ differs from Hrithik Roshan’s ‘War’, the director Siddharth Anand’s directive to celebrate Shah Rukh Khan’s return to the big screen, and why he was anxious to write for the film’s significant Shah Rukh Khan-Salman Khan sequence.
When Indian Express asked Tyerwala about his reaction to ‘Pathaan’s blockbuster success, He replied, “ I was at my niece’s wedding in Goa! I was dancing away. It has been so long, because I finished the dialogues two years ago, my work was done even before the first lockdown. By the time Pathaan came out, at a real emotional level, I was waiting for it like any other viewer, I knew it would be a fun watch. The fact that there was some unnecessary controversy that was created, something was misunderstood, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps willingly, but that didn’t deter people from enjoying, stepping out in huge numbers and loving the film. That was the biggest relief and kick. It seemed like a rejection of pettiness and a celebration of a slightly old-world joy of being together as Indians and enjoying the cinema experience. That felt very nice.”
When Abbas Tyrewala was asked about how the ‘Pathaan’ dialogue writing began for him? He replied, “Siddharth Anand and Shridhar Raghavan (screenplay writer) have an excellent dynamic. Between them, all the structure is sorted out and a complete fleshed out flow is written, with indicated dialogues too often contained in that. For me, all I need to do is to not mess it up. If possible, make it ever better, make it shine even more, but at the very least, not make it less than what is given to me. There is no other consideration to bog me down, that what will Shah Rukh think of this, what will my mom think of it… You don’t get caught up in that.”
Siddharth Anand mostly likes my first draft. Abbas revealed, “This is the third film I have done with Adi and Siddharth and each time it has been a consistent process. They tend to mostly like my first draft. But lets’ put it this way: 60 % of the film they will like it in the first draft, then about 25% will be something where either I won’t be convinced with what they are trying to communicate and will say let me try some other option or they will say let’s go back to the thought we had. In some instances, all of us will agree that a line isn’t working in Hindi as much as it did in English, so we do it a totally different way. Then 10-15% will be the heartache, where you are fundamentally looking at it differently from each other, struggling to convince each other, to avoid or retain something. It is a pretty solid and healthy process.”
Shah Rukh’s charisma, aura, and self-deprecating humor have perfectly added an amazing effect in the dialogues of Pathaan. The distinction between the character and the beloved celebrity is likewise continuously muddled. Comparable to a scene in which a character speaks of Pathaan and says, “We believed his chapter had ended, but he was writing a whole new book.”
When Abbas was being asked if there was any dialogue or scene that required extensive brainstorming to write, He replied, “ The climax exchange between Jim and Pathaan. I was very worried, not just about the soldier bit, but the entire exchange. I felt I could have played with it more; it could have been more ‘mine’ for lack of a better word. I was very worried that it might end up feeling dry, because it (the soldier line) is familiar and not as innovative as some of the other portions. But it has very clearly gone down very well with people. Whether it would have been more effective, less effective if we had tried something else will always be up for conjecture.”
When the Indian Express team asked about the train sequence featuring Shahrukh Khan and Salman, Abbas Said, “It was purely about finding the funniest words. The entire conception was there well before even my job started. Siddharth and Adi knew exactly what they were doing. Shridhar had captured it perfectly in the screenplay, they knew how meta it was, they knew that besides the fact that it is Tiger and Pathaan coming together and starting off this spy multiverse, it was also Shah Rukh and Salman on-screen together, it was also Karan-Arjun on-screen together. They were aware and cognizant of that. The way they milked that scene for the fun of it, that was all. My job was, ‘Ok that’s what you want to do, let me try writing the best possible lines for it.’’
It was worth watching the scene when Salman and Shahrukh reunited as ‘Tiger’ and ‘Pathaan’.
“There was this huge sense of joy in the writing of it. Often writing is lonely and difficult but once in a while you get to work with someone who is so clear with their version, to work with a screenplay writer who speaks your language, it becomes a joyful process. Pathaan was that movie where the writing was already a reward. It was a huge kick to write it and we were grinning even while writing this sequence because we knew that this would be so much fun.” Abbas spoke on throwback to Karan Arjun, or the painkiller line…
‘Siddharth Anand wanted the dialogues to be a bit larger’ Abbas said. “In War we were trying hard not to draw attention to the dialogues, we wanted it to be as effortless as possible, let the characters shine. Over here, he was clear that he wanted the dialogues to be a lot more noticeable, quotable and in your face. Once that’s brief, you can really party.” He added.
While discussing The hilarious post credit scene, where Shah Rukh and Salman are discussing who can be the next successor, before Shah Rukh says, ‘Hume he karna padega, bachcho pe nahi chhod sakte.’
Abbas replied, “It was very unnerving for me to write that sequence. They are at the end of the fight in Russia, they are dressed the same, it is not like they are catching up later over coffee in Morocco. When we were writing it, at the point the scene was supposed to occur right after the Tiger-Pathaan fight sequence, when they are waiting for the chopper to come and pick them up after the action piece. I was extremely nervous, because we were dangerously verging on throwing people out of the illusion of Tiger and Pathaan by being so blatantly Shah Rukh and Salman. I knew it would be great fun, but breaking the fourth wall isn’t always a clever idea. I was very nervous that this comes in the middle of a story where people would laugh at Shah Rukh and Salman and their antics rather than remembering it is Tiger and Pathaan.”
“I don’t know who came up with this–Adi, Siddharth, the editor–idea of turning it into a mid-credit scene and not where it was originally occurring. That is a stroke of genius, because there you can be as meta as you like. There is no danger of throwing you out of the story because you are already out of it. It is like the ceremony is over and now the after party has started with that scene. There you can celebrate it– as people already are doing it.” Abbas Tyrewala ended.
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