US TV series “Quantico”, that premiered on television network ABC this September, has created quite a buzz among the audience at large, especially in the subcontinent – owing to Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra being cast in the lead. The mystery thriller about a group of FBI recruits in training has garnered appreciation for its racial diversity and a gripping plot. The TV show has made a decent following among Bangladeshi audience as well, through satellite channels and streaming sites.
Bangladeshi writer Sharbari Z Ahmed is a part of the screenwriting team for the show, and The Daily Star caught up with her via email about the project:
How and when did you start writing for TV and film?
Sharbari: I never thought seriously about writing for TV. I had written a play and few screenplays, but I never thought to solely pursue one medium. I just love to tell stories, so whatever way this manifested itself, I went with.
How did you get involved with the “Quantico” writing team?
Sharbari: My friend, actor Purva Bedi recommended me to executive producer Jake Coburn who then introduced me to the show runner Josh Safran.
Could you give us an outline of the process which goes behind writing an episode of a TV series?
Sharbari: We sit in a writer's room. That is typically how American television is created. We have nine writers in total and we sit together and discuss the show, stories and character arcs. We pitch ideas to Josh in keeping with his vision and he signs off on them. Once we decide on the various moving parts, we then 'break' an episode: which means we assemble it, placing various moments in their appropriate acts. We also think about the direction of the show and arcs that continue beyond an episode. Josh assigns specific episodes to one or two writers. The cast is shooting away from NYC and it is mainly the producers and show runner who have regular contact with them. It was incredibly exciting for me hear and see them do a table read of my episode (set to air November 15) via Skype.
What's the feedback about “Quantico” so far, and what are the plans regarding the show -- this season, and upcoming?
Sharbari: People are loving the show. “Quantico” is moving the diversity ball down the field in the United States by casting Priyanka Chopra in the lead, as well as having a diverse cast. This is the first prime time drama to cast a brown female protagonist and build a show around her. It's groundbreaking and America, and the rest of the world are responding. All I can tell you about upcoming episodes and the season is that it will be thrilling, fun, full of twists and, at times, even eye-opening! We have a dynamic writing team and this is powerfully reflected in the show.