Jagan Krishnan: Writing process for stand-up and Veetla Vishesham were entirely different

Veetla Vishesham’s script was a collaborative team effort from directors RJ Balaji, NJ Saravanan, writers Karthik, Surendar and Chitrarasan
Jagan Krishnan: Writing process for stand-up and Veetla Vishesham were entirely different

For Jagan Krishnan, a stand-up comedian for nearly seven years, getting into screenwriting with RJ Balaji's Veetla Vishesham wasn’t an easy decision. It was a long process - a rewarding and enriching one at that.

Speaking on how he landed the project, he says, “RJ Balaji called me even during the making of Mookuthi Amman to be part of the writing process. I was busy with Put Chutney YouTube channel back then. I was part of the writing process for three to four days and found the discussions too intense. So, I didn’t work on it. So, he again approached me for Veetla Vishesham. After a bit of deliberation, I came onboard.”

Jagan, explaining the screenwriting process, says, “Since it's a remake, we already had a solid storyline. All we had to do was embellish it. We referred to other movies related to pregnancy and old people like Father of the Bride Part II (1995) and Nine Months (1995). We also took inspiration from our real-life experiences. Understanding how the comedy will land was a different experience altogether.”

The writing process of stand-up and films are entirely different. "They are as different as tennis and cricket,” Jagan notes. “You can't have trials in films like in stand-up. We retained many scenes from Badhaai Ho (2018) since they worked very well. We all were very confident that the labour room sequence in the climax would work. But we were pleasantly surprised that people also laughed at many other instances like the sa re ga ma pa, nee sari illa pa scenes." 

Veetla Vishesham’s script was a collaborative effort from directors RJ Balaji, NJ Saravanan, and writers Karthik, Surendar and Chitrarasan. Inputs were also given by associate editor Gopi. It was a five-month-long process, and the 130-page script was revised about five to six times. “Sometimes, the discussions will go on for 12 hours. We debated where to place the intermission scene for a month and came up with different scenarios. We’d also change places and write in isolation," Jagan says.

The team did not write the opening scene — the one about the ladies being a part of the chit scheme — for two months. “In Badhaai Ho, the opening scene has the cast playing tambola, which is not part of our culture. We then chose the chit scheme, which we worked on for one month as we wanted it to be the right representation. We took references from YouTube videos, spoke to people in chit fund business, and even had a mock session in our office,” he says.

As part of his preparation, Jagan also took a screenwriting workshop of noted screenwriter John Edathattil for three months. He also read several books to understand the concepts better.

At any stage, Veetla Vishesham’s writing team was particular in giving importance to the characters rather than making them custom-made for the actors. “The original was very rooted. The performances of Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta were directed and dictated by the script and dialogues. We had superb actors like Sathyaraj and Urvashi who could deliver on par performances. So, we didn’t want to include unnecessary pop-culture references,” Jagan explained.

When probed if he would explore more in the screenwriting space, he says, “Of course! I love storytelling, be it in stand-up comedy or films. I’m also planning to learn direction,” he says, crossing his fingers. 

Apart from working on his stand-up projects, Jagan has also co-written the upcoming SonyLIV Tamil original series Meme Boys which is slated to release soon. 

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