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In the pre-social media era, writers were unable to market themselves, which kept them in the shadows

One of the reasons we forget the names of some of our greats is because there wasn’t much public relations or marketing back then. There certainly wasn’t social media. Thanks to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, writers and technicians gain plenty of visibility. In those days, the film magazines talked more about the stars, the big directors and the big producers, but never really mentioned other creative film professionals.

Only Salim-Javed managed to break through in those days. Also, due to the directors and producers who gave them that top billing, these two, now legendary writers, had their names included on film posters. This was a first in those times.

It is really sad that we include the names of music directors on film posters but not the names of writers. While promoting a film, I believe it is important to showcase the writer’s name too. This would generate awareness of the role of a writer, which is rather low-key.

Thankfully, things are changing. Let’s look back at some of the legendary writers who have shaped Hindi cinema but who lost out when it came to being noticed for their work.

Kader Khan

Mr Kader Khan was a legendary actor and writer, who penned over a hundred films in his career. Very few people know that he had written the dialogue for iconic films like Agneepath, Hum and Hatya. He also wrote the dialogue for Karma, Amar Akbar Anthony, Himmatwala, Satte Pe Satta and Mr. Natwarlal. He could write dramas like Agneepath as well as comedy films like Himmatwala and Satte Pe Satta.

We all talk about Salim (Khan) sir and Javed (Akhtar) sir, who are obviously legends. For me, Kader Khan sir is one of the greatest writers India has. His command over the language and his versatility in the kinds of films he wrote is unbelievable. There are very few people who are able to do this. Every writer aspires to explore as much variety as possible. He has written some of the finest films ever.

KK Singh

Mr KK Singh wrote the screenplay and dialogue for films like Ram Teri Ganga Maili but the film that brought him fame was Krantiveer. The dialogue of that film was legendary. Such powerful lines! He went on to do a lot of films, like Jaanwar and Ek Rishtaa: The Bond Of Love. He even directed a film called Veergati with Salman Khan. People should remember him for the power of his dialoguebaazi. Ram Teri Ganga Maili and Tridev had their dialogue written by him. The entire dialogue of dharti phati in Tridev was written by him.

Prayag Raj And KK Shukla

Then there was Prayag Raj and KK Shukla, who wrote the screenplay and story for most Manmohan Desai films. Those films are blueprints of our industry, what we call ‘masala cinema’, which has made a comeback through films like Baaghi 2 or a Satyameva Jayate. They were
the original architects of this kind of writing, right from Amar Akbar Anthony, Dharam-Veer, Suhaag, Desh Premee, Geraftaar, Mard, Coolie… you name a film and they had written it. Both of them were extraordinary and it was they who invented ‘filmy writing’ in Hindi cinema.

Ram Kelkar

Ram Kelkar extensively worked with Subhash Ghai sir. He wrote the screenplay for Ram Lakhan and for Khal Nayak. He wrote the story for Ilzaam, which was Govinda’s debut film. He was a terrific writer and, as I said, he worked a lot with Subhash Ghai. His contribution to Hindi cinema is great. So many actors have made their debut with films written by Ram Kelkar sir. 

 Abrar Alvi

Abrar Alvi wrote and directed Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. He was known for working with Guru Dutt sir. This worked against him as people often gave credit to Guru Dutt sir but not to Alvi sir for his contribution. Even so, Alvi sir wrote most of the films that Guru Dutt sir made, which we now regard as classics.

Ravi Kapoor

Mr Ravi Kapoor worked a lot with Rakesh Roshan sir. Rewind to a time when he did films like Roop Tera Mastana and Patthar Aur Payal, and he continued writing till 2000, when he wrote Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai, which is Hrithik Roshan’s debut film. He wrote Karan Arjun, King Uncle, Kishen Kanhaiya and Khoon Bhari Maang.

Notice that many of these writers had worked with specific directors.  Each of them had a certain director who trusted them and worked with them. That is a great sign and a writer-director combination is very important. You need someone who understands your strengths and your weaknesses. We should be very grateful to all these legends who shaped Indian cinema into what it is today.

Sachin Bhowmick

Sachinda has given so many amazing stories over time. He had written for a very long time. I remember that he had written a lot of films for Subhashji (Ghai) right from Karz, Karma, Saudagar to Taal and Yuvvraaj. I also recall that Subhashji had a team of writers with names like Javed Siddiqui, Kamlesh Pandey and others. They all used to write but Sachinda’s contribution was immense. I think he was one of the best screenplay writers Indian cinema ever had and we should always remember his contribution.

Jainendra Jain  

Jainendra Jain saab wrote the dialogue for Bobby, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Woh 7 Din, Prem Rog and Henna. These were such classics! He wrote a lot of the films that Raj Kapoorji did. These films were epics. These were powerful stories that also gave a strong social message and social comment on what India was going through at that time, whether widow remarriage or a girl with a facial scar and the caste system in Satyam Shivam Sundaram or the rich-and-poor divide in Woh 7 Din. I mean, he went on to write films till 2003-04. He wrote Salman Khan’s Tere Naam that released in 2003. He wrote Humara Dil Aapke Paas Hai and Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehta Hain. He worked a lot with Satish Kaushik sir too.

- Milap Zaveri

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