‘Speaking of Films’ by Satyajit Ray
I read this book quite often to remind myself about the need for simplicity and purpose in the narrative that we weave, and for it to come alive through the screenplay, dialogue, music, cinematography, colour and characters. It’s important to understand that at no point should any of these elements be out of their defined and required role. This book is a fabulous bedside friend to develop an understanding of cinema, of crafting, of ‘how to keep it real’. In it, Ray speaks about Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Chhabi Biswas, Charulata, Tagore, his influences from western cinema, etc. In times of crisis or writer’s block, this is my go-to book.
‘Ogilvy on Advertising’ by David Ogilvy
As the name suggests, this isn’t a book about filmmaking. But filmmaking is not just about lights-camera-action, a script, the hero and the heroine, etc. It’s a deep understanding of people and of human insights. So while Ogilvy speaks extensively and sharply about consumers, brands and marketers, there are some brilliant insights he gives and any writer seeking some guidance will know how to apply them to cinema. For instance, he says, ‘It seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think.’ And that’s exactly what films today are trying to achieve. Dialogue is normal day-to-day speak. There are some fabulous gems in this book, said in sharp witty lines.