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A brief but cherished list of writers who have ruled Hindi cinema and whose legacy has inspired generations after them

Artistes speak through their work but there are only some whose legacy is eternal. Sadly, there are myriad writers who have worked in the Hindi film industry and have left a profound body of work but have gone unrecognised.

Here’s a brief list of writers who have left an impact on me and whose work and achievements I cherish. The writers in my lists are kings whose legacy is worshipped by generations who have come after them and will continue to, till eternity. 

Sachin Bhowmick

As this is a tribute to yesteryear writers, I would like to begin with Sachin Bhowmick. Sachinda doesn’t require any introduction as he is one of the greatest writers of the Indian film industry who has ruled for more than five decades.

Sachinda was the only writer to write films for fathers as well as their children. He wrote films for Dharmendra as well as his sons Sunny (Deol) and Bobby (Deol), and for many more father-son duos. Usually, writers get comfortable with a certain genre and get typecast. Sachinda was someone who explored each and every genre and proved himself as one of the most exceptionally talented writers our cinema has ever seen.

From writing an emotional film like Aradhana, to an action-thriller like Solider, a beautiful gem like Saaheb, exploring themes like reincarnation, and giving us hits like Karz and Karan Arjun, he didn’t stop there. He went on to explore the fantasy genre and gave us our very own Indian superhero Krrish. From comedy to musicals to romance, there’s not a single genre untouched by this legendary writer, who inspires the young generation with his versatility and creativity till date. I’m sure his work will continue to inspire till eternity. 

At the very beginning of my career, I had the privilege to meet Sachinda, when I was writing Ek Aur Ek Gyarah and he was the creative head at Mukta Arts. I remember he was a very straightforward human being who always liked to voice his opinion and offer his inputs in a very matter-of-fact way. This interaction took him down memory lane, where he referenced his own movies and gave me valuable inputs which I imbibed forever. Commercial cinema is difficult and one of the few people to master the art of writing this genre was Sachinda. A salute to one of my favourite writers.

Ramesh Pant

Rameshji is another writer who has a variety of films in his bouquet of work, from romantic hits like Kashmir Ki Kali, Amar Prem, Aradhana and Raja Rani, to our very own Indian ‘Bond thriller’ Surakksha. From comedy films like Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi to dramas like Aap Ki Kasam, Rameshji was a man of many talents. He wrote dialogue, screenplays and stories for many films but also was a lyricist who gave us the evergreen song Koi maane ya na maane from Adhikar. He was a writer who ruled the box office during the ’60s era. 

Rameshji was a close associate of my late father-in-law SM Sagar, who was a director/producer of his time. Some of the movies written by Rameshji for him were Adhikar, Rakhi Aur Hathkadi and Ustadon Ke Ustad.

I recall from the various incidents that have been narrated to me that Rameshji lived by the motto, ‘If you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing, if you lose your health, you have lost something and if you lose your character, you have lost everything’. 

He is a writer who has created cinematic history by giving us beautiful movies which are still remembered and loved.

Pandit Mukhram Sharma

My list of maestros would have been incomplete if I had not included him in the bright and colourful rainbow created of these talented writers. Ek Hi Raasta, Dhool Ka Phool, Jeene Ki Rah and Humjoli weren’t only social films but some turned out to be revolutionary movies like Ek Hi Rasta and Dhool Ka Phool.

Sharmaji had the knack of blending cinema with a strong social message which made him the king of this genre. Understanding the day-to-day problems of a middle-class family and their emotional turmoil was something his writing focused on. His movies always gave us hope that there was a solution for every problem, no matter how big it was. Even though social films are no longer as popular as they used to be, Sharmaji’s works will always be remembered and loved. 

KA Narayan

He was a master of commercial thrillers and the best in his genre. Narayanji’s collaboration with Vijay Anand gave us a dynamic duo who gave us hits like Johny Mera Naam and Jewel Thief. Another director who did justice to Narayan saab’s work was Brij Sadanah – Chori Mera Kaam, Bombay 405 Miles and the biggest blockbuster of the ’70s, Victoria No. 203, a comedy thriller.

Narayanji also wrote some commercial movies like Raampur Ka Lakshman, Amir Garib and Ek Musafir Ek Hasina. He was a man who made his audience feel every emotion through the variety of films he’s offered our cinema. Such writers have set certain parameters which if we master we shall never ever fail. His ability to build a connection with the audience is truly commendable.

Jainendra Jain

Another master writer who could express emotions so easily through his writing, whether the plight of a widow in Prem Rog, or the innocence of Bobby, or the crossroads situation of Padmini Kolhapure in Woh 7 Din, or the sacrifice of Henna. Emotional writing is so tough that you can express it in a five-page scene or a five-line dialogue and here was a master who could write it in the least words.

Emotion can easily slip into high-pitch drama but here was a writer who knew how to say it subtly and blend our culture into the dialogue. His lines were never flowery but always carried meaning and a reference from our society and culture. Dialogue is supposed to be written like a poor man’s telegram and here was a writer who had mastered it.

We can never forget some of his beautiful work like Tere Naam, Judaai, Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai, Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain, Sargam and Satyam Shivam Sundaram

At some point in life, we’ve connected with these films on a personal level and they will always remain close to our heart. 

Anwar Khan

The king of commercial cinema is Khan saab, a writer who ruled the ’90s. A majority of commercial hits that released during that era were written by our very own Khan saab. He gave us movies like Ram Lakhan, Dulhe Raja and Karan Arjun. He was our very own Indian Barry Allen because with superhuman speed, he would finish writing dialogue and scripts, leaving everyone around him truly baffled. He was a creative mind whose flow on paper was as smooth as the Nile. 

While writing the screenplay for Chor Machaaye Shor for Davidji (David Dhawan), I had the opportunity to work with Khan saab as he was the dialogue writer of the movie. I still remember those days, Khan saab’s jovial attitude bringing smiles to people’s faces, whether it was through the actors on screen or through his personal interactions with people off-screen.

Khan saab’s fun-loving personality taught me to enjoy my work and make the best of it, come what may. I remember looking forward to sittings with him. Since we all knew Khan saab was a big foodie, lunch followed by the meetings was always bound to be epic. Even though he was a man of such high stature, he never forced his opinion on anybody. He was a humble man with a thirst to learn and grow. I’ve learnt that no one is a master and everyone is a student, learning a new chapter every day in our lives, which helps us enhance our skills.

Rajinder Krishen

Rajinderji started his career in his mid-40s. He is the king of social cinema and the writer of some of the best comedy classics in the Indian film industry. Padosan, Bombay To Goa, Sadhu Aur Shaitaan , Pyar Kiye Jaa and Waris are the films every aspiring writer studies. These are iconic comic hits that still leave you in spilts whenever you watch them.

These movies have been my inspiration to write comedies, and I have seen them umpteen times. People mistakenly believe that comedy is easy to write. That could not be more untrue. One of the most difficult jobs is to make people laugh and Rajinderji was a writer who did it with ease. He was a writer with a sixth sense and an inquisitive mind.  

Inder Raj Anand

 ‘Rishtey mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hain, naam hain Shahensha’ is a line that is embedded in every child’s mind. Inderji was the man behind this legendary line. He started his career during the black-and-white era of filmmaking and blossomed during the

age of colour and digital prints. Inderji gave us some classic black-and-white hits with Rajji (Raj Kapoor) like Anari, Aah and Aag, followed by some pure, heart-touching stories like Sangam, Julie and Safar.

He was a writer and a dialogue writer who worked with the cream of directors in the film fraternity for over four decades. Every director has a different perception about every aspect of his story, and pairing any creative filmmaker with Inderji was the icing on the cake. His dedication to his work was one of his strengths and made him one of the most successful writers of his time.

He taught us that age has nothing to do with creativity and experiences enhance your talent even more, making him one of the most effortless and timeless writers of our beloved cinema.

Vajahat Mirza

Mother India, Mughal-E-Azam, Gunga Jumna, Kohinoor and Yahudi Ki Ladki are five gems that aptly summarise the great work of Mirzaji. These aren’t mere films but movies that changed Indian cinema forever. They are movies that went on to be critically acclaimed on an international level and created history.

To write such beautiful stories, a writer would have to be a magician who plays with words and characters. It seems unreal but one man alone – Mirzaji – was behind these evergreen classics that are still cherished and loved by everybody. Movies like these have raised the bar and every writer, flimmaker and artiste aspires to make iconic films or be a part of something so grand that it will remain eternal.

- Yunus Sajawal

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