‘Shaitan’ Director Bejoy Nambiar’s Tips on writing and directing a ‘Thriller’


Bejoy Nambiar, Director of ‘Shaitan’,  gave insight about making of a thriller and shared experiences of his debut film, in a webinar, “The Art of Writing and Directing a Thriller – Deconstructing Shaitan” organised by jamuura, a great website for aspiring filmmakers like me.
    The webinar, which I had a privilege to attend, was a great learning experience, which I wish to share with others by sharing some of the valuable tips given by Bejoy Nambiar.

Firstly, If you want to write a thriller, you must be obsessed with the genre, watching as many as movies and as many as books on the genre.
   One of the very important things while writing a thriller, is the pace with story unfolds. A thriller which can be fast paced or slow burning, should not lag. Lagging in pace may break the movie.
‘Shaitan’ was a fast-paced film, in which back story of characters was not included on screen ( though written extensively during scripting stage) in favour of maintaining pace, it was a choice they had to make. On the other hand,  bejoy’s second film, ‘David’, had a large portion of it in the slow thriller category. Maintaining a pace especially may become tricky if the movie is being shot in a non- chronological order.


According to Bejoy, Every story determines the pace with which it should unfold, weather it will be a fast paced thriller or a slow thriller. This has to be done during scripting stage.  Bejoy shares a incident when they went to veteran actor Mithun for a script narration session of ‘Shaitan’ , after hearing the script of ‘Shaitan’ mithun replied, “kursi se avaaj nahi aani chahiye”,  by which he meant that this film’s pace should be such that audience won’t get a chance to move from their seat while watching the film, which Bejoy kept in mind while making the film.
    While talking about how to write a good thriller, Bejoy gave following tips –
1. You have to be confident and convinced with your content.
2. You should write a movie which you would love to watch.
3. Keep a habit of watching of movies with good stories and try to avoid doing what is already done before.
4. While writing the film, be sure how you will pitch your film. Everyone (including your cast and crew) should know how you visualise you film.


  While talking about the characters of  ‘Shaitan’, Bejoy says that  the back story of main characters was written extensively (as mentioned earlier) and the tone of interaction and dynamic between characters was set during rehearsals before shooting actual film.
  Editing of the film can be used to make audience think. ‘Shaitan’s editing was done in between schedules. With a special editing script. This helped to add extra inputs while shooting remaining scenes. Sound played very important role in ‘shaitan’ as almost like a character.


  Shooting in real locations has both pros and cons. ‘Shaitan’ was 99% shot in real locations which helped in adding realism but also caused some problems. Talking about a particular scene which takes place at a church,  the church was available for only one day while the shoot was supposed to be for two days. Thus the shooting was done for almost 24 hours which surprisingly made for a final result exactly same as Bejoy had visualised while writing.

In a Q and A session at the end of webinar, Bejoy talked about how to turn a idea into a story. One should continuously be writing ideas. It must be determined that from which characters point of view the story unfolds.


Talking about lighting and mood of the film, Bejoy says that while he determines the mood of the scene, it is the cameraman/ cinematographer who create the mood through lighting. Speaking about linearity of the screenplay, Bejoy says it can be linear or non-linear. That depends on the writer.
  I will end this post with a great advice which one of Bejoy’s senior colleague  gave him as a he was a first time film-maker- ” Enjoy The struggle which comes with making your first film, its a one-time experience.” Well said.

Did you enjoy this? Did you find it a learning experience as it was for me?  Then please do like it and share it with your friends.

Related: PHANTOM, Much more than a spy thriller.

Related: Loved ‘Drishyam’?watch this other gripping Bollywood murder mystery

Related: ‘Drishyam’,south remake or plot borrowed from a novel; is a solid thriller.


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