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Exclusive! Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari on Lee-Hesh docuseries: Inspiration and aspiration for a lot of youngsters

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari exclusively spoke about her debut novel Mapping Love and dished out if she will be turning the book into a film or a web series.

Aishwarya Vasudevan
Aug 09, 2021
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Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari/Instagram

Filmmaker Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari didn't know that she will be donning the hat of an 'author' so early in her career. The Nil Battey Sannatta director who’s making her debut as a novelist with Mapping Love, always felt that she would write a book once she is content with her filmography. The book hit the stands on August 1, 2021, and Ashwiny was nervous about its release just the way she is before her films hit the screens. In an exclusive interaction with OTTPlay, the Bareilly Ki Barfi and Panga helmer not only spoke about Mapping Love but also got candid about collaborating with husband Nitesh Tiwari as a co-director and her OTT outings including Faadu and Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi docuseries among other things.

Excerpts...

How did the idea of Mapping Love come about?

As a storyteller, you always have a lot of ideas. You think of every medium and you get ideas there. I just felt that it's important for me to tell this idea in the form of a book. I always wanted to write a novel, being an avid reader, I knew that once in my lifetime, I will start writing books. I never knew that it would come so early because you can write at any age. I felt that maybe after I finish with films, I would start writing. But I didn't know that it will come in too early. That doesn't mean that I'm going to quit making films, I will continue making films. But yeah, the joy of writing a book was very different. 

Will you be keen on turning the book into a film or web series?

I never thought of it as a movie in person when I was writing it because this is for a book, and I wrote it that way. But if any of my partners, my producer partners feel that there is merit in this book, which is a story about forgiveness, and has a little thriller element to it, if they agree with it. But yes, one thing for sure, I won't write the screenplay because I'm so attached to the book that I will be writing the screenplay and not surprising myself. So, I would like to see a second eye into the book. 

How different is it writing a screenplay in terms of your process?

See, when you're writing a screenplay, it is about what you're going to be seeing on screen. Every story always has a three-act image, though there will be a beginning, middle and end. So, the plot points will always be there. But writing a book is very different from writing screenplays because in a book you can jump from any sequence to anywhere keep coming back. It's a method in terms of how the writer wants to write his or her own book, but in the screenplay, there is a certain grammar in which you write the screenplay, there is a certain rule which you need to write the screenplay whereas the dialogues are written in a certain way, you emphasize on the character and that's about it. Everything else is the later stage. Whereas in the book, you describe the characters, you describe them in metaphors, you sometimes choose not to have dialogues and sometimes you have dialogues, so these things change in a book.

As a storyteller, where do you look for inspiration?

I see that as a storyteller it is very important to keep your eyes and mind open all the time. We are curious humans, we see the life we want to know, how life exists in every person and place. So, it is very, very important to see that and to make sure that you grasp and write down notes. You never know where you get your next idea from. So yes, it is about being right, it is about talking, about getting inspired, about travelling. Ideas don't come sitting in the four walls. It comes when you travel, you meet different kinds of people, you read all kinds of material in terms of newspapers, magazines, whether it is talking to people, interacting, interviewing and also watching life as.

You are about to make another debut with OTT, tell us about it.

I'm very excited to work with SonyLIV on this very beautiful series, which is again, very different from my previous work. The writer whom we are collaborating with, is someone who is a very amazing poet, a professor of literature and writer, theatre writer and director. So, it's a very different experience because he comes with his own different ideas and collaborating with someone who's not from my writer circle, which is great because you are not stuck in here. I'm sensing the psyche of different writers and he's amazing when it comes to what he has brought onto the table. So yeah, it's an exciting time. 

You are collaborating with Nitesh Tiwari professionally for Lee-Hesh docudrama. Tell us about it.

It's almost 16 years we've been working together because we were together in advertising. So, nothing new in terms of that, but yes, we are co-directing for the first time. Our values in terms of how we want to perceive something has always been the same. It was not actually very difficult to co-direct with each other because each of us knew our strength and that's how we tell stories, for the longest time we're doing that.  

Also, we are finished with the docuseries, we are right now under post-production. So that's how it is and through the pandemic, we have worked on the LeHesh stories. Very exciting because there's a story of the greatest world doubles champions in India, which needed to be told. Also, it's an inspiration and aspiration for a lot of youngsters who want to play sports as a career. It's also an inspiration for the do's and don'ts for a lot of partnerships, teamwork, and as a growing nation with a lot of youngsters a lot of dreams, it's important to tell their story. 

Coming to OTT, what kind of content do you like to watch?

I like watching a lot of nonfiction documentaries also, which come across all OTT platforms. I like watching different kinds of language series or even originals. We are at a space where I can go as a Georgian, watch a Spanish film, can watch a Spanish series or from Sweden. So, I think when the storytelling becomes closer, or it becomes clearer. We get to know ethnicity, different signs of cinema happening across the world whether it is Korean drama, whether it is Japanese stories or whether it is American stories. There are lots of different kinds of stories that come out or whether in South American stories. Also, in our own country which is so full of languages and so many different kinds of stories are coming out in Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Canada, Telugu, it's nice to see insights coming from various languages. 


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