A scene in Grand Masti likens a woman’s breasts to a milk factory while in another one, one of the protagonists, at the mention of rape, remembers his wife. “Balaatkar se yaad aaya, meri biwi kahan hai?” If the film was deemed obscene, tasteless and irresponsible just by its promos, a huge opening day weekend — over Rs 40 crores in three days — and its downright rejection by critics have shown the chasm that exists between the “intelligentsia” and the “mass”. The film’s screenwriter Tushar Hiranandani seems to have an answer. “If the balaatkar scene, described through a five-minute monologue in one of Hindi cinema’s highest grossing film 3 Idiots could get away from being accused of being sexist, and Grand Masti because it’s touted as a so-called “crude film”, is attacked, then it shows double standards,” he says.
Incidentally, the film he chooses as an example is the same one that he idolises. Rajkumar Hirani’s knack of weaving his stories around the most commonplace problems struck Hiranandani as his biggest screen-writing lesson. “I can say that 3 Idiots changed my life. Raju Hirani is the baap of all screenwriters in India. He made me change my stance as a writer. I realised this man is picking up common subjects and making great movies out of them,” says Hiranandani, who made his foray into screenplay writing with Masti (2004). He tries to incorporate elements that people will readily identify with, such as the sagging male ego of Vivek Oberoi’s character in Grand Masti, which comes under threat with having his wife as his boss in office, or minute traits like the gurgling habits of Paresh Rawal’s character in Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge.
He divides his career into two halves, a messy first one that included films such as Naksha, Pyaare Mohan and Daddy Cool — a phase he isn’t too proud of — and the bountiful phase with hits such as Housefull 2, Faltu and ABCD (Any Body Can Dance). “I used to lift scenes straight from English movies and cut and pasted them into my screenplay. There was no writing involved. It was like a job and I wasn’t enjoying it. I hadn’t seen enough of life, and it showed in my writing, which was immature.”
Falling in love, and eventually marriage changed everything. “I was a miser before, I never used to spend money. My wife made me open my