A conflict in our life gives us a motivation to reach a specific goal. Similarly, a conflict is the driving force in a film as well. It gives an opportunity to your central character (protagonist) to reach out to a solution or resolution and during this journey, there are overwhelming obstacles which are finally overcome by the protagonist through the transformation and the growth of his character.  So a conflict is the core of your story, your idea, your brain-child. So there are three basic ways to create conflict:

  1. Want of your character
  2. Introduction of opposite forces or goals
  3. Confrontation of those forces

Before we move ahead, let us introduce the basic conflicts first:

  1. Man Vs. Man (Bahubali, Mr India, Gangs of Wasseypur, Ghajini, etc)
  2. Society Vs. Man (Gunga Jumna, OMG, PK, Jagte Raho, etc)
  3. Man Vs. Nature (Titanic, 2012, Lagaan, etc)
  4. Man Vs. Self (Wake Up Sid, Bala, Shubh Mangal Savdhan, etc)
  5. Man Vs. Supernatural (Paranormal Activity, Ragini MMS, Kaal, etc)

So a story should have either of these conflicts in order to take the story forward.

  1. Want of your character

There should be a “want” of your character/s that would set up the besic premise of the film. It is because of this “want” that the conflict will arise and then we would move towards achieving an objective. For eg, in the film ‘Lagaan’, there has been a delayed monsoon due to which the farmers in Champaner are in deep trouble. This turns out to be the most important “want” of the villagers in the film whose representative is a young man Bhuvan (Aamir Khan). It is because of this want that the conflict arises later in the film.

Bhuvan leading the villagers in Lagaan (2001)
  • Introduction of opposite forces or goals

Since, Captain Russell is already enraged over the fearlessness of Bhuvan, it sets off the introduction of opposite forces where both have a different objective- Bhuvan and villagers want exemption from the taxes (lagaan) whereas the ruthless British officers plan to extract three times the actual tax. So the opposite forces create a higher degree of conflict.

Bhuvan wants exemption from taxes
  • Confrontation of those forces

Lagaan offers the confrontation in the form of a Cricket match where the two opposite forces- Bhuvan and Capt Russell confront each other. Both of them are the representatives of different clans and have a different objective to work on. The director of the film has carefully planned this confrontation part in such a way that the dramatic beats continue till the last part of the film.

Captain Russell


Always remember, a film without a conflict is just like a car without an engine, a gun without a bullet and a pen without ink. It is the driving force that needs to be developed so that the dramatic graph of the narrative doesn’t subside till the very end. By applying the above tips, you can create different kinds of conflict but make sure to introduce your conflict as early as possible in your script, otherwise the delay in introducing the conflict is directly proportional to the attention span of your audience i.e. the late you introduce the conflict, chances of audience leaving your film are more.

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