Meet some of our scriptwriters who gave us films that will live on forever in our collective consciousness
“To make a great film, you need three things – the script, the script and the script” – Alfred Hitchcock
A screenplay is the blueprint that everyone working on a film refers to when they are fulfilling their part in the process. Here’s a list of top screenwriters and storytellers who created some of the finest Indian films.
He penned the dialogue of some of the most successful films of the 1950s and 1960s. He wrote the blockbuster Mother India (1957), which got India its first Oscar nomination. Who can forget these iconic lines from Mughal-E-Azam, an eternal romance that has gained cult status over the years – ‘Meri aakhon se mere khwaab na cheeniye shahzaade main mar jaayungi’ or ‘Salim, tujhe marne nahi dega, aur hum tujhe jeene nahi denge.’ His other notable films are Gunga Jumna (1961), Leader (1964), Shatranj (1969), Ganga Ki Saugandh (1978) and Love And God (1986).
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
KA Abbas was a writer, director and novelist. In a career spanning five decades, he won many awards for his realistic films and is considered a pioneer of neo-realistic cinema. Abbas and VP Sathe are known for writing some of the best Raj Kapoor films like Awaara (1951) as well as Shree 420 (1955), Bobby (1973) and Henna.
As a producer-director, Abbas gave a break to newcomer Amitabh Bachchan in Saat Hindustani (1969), which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration.
His other noted films are Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani (1946), Dharti Ke Lal (1946), Jagte Raho (1956), Pardesi (1957), Sapnon Ka Saudagar (1968), Mera Naam Joker (1970) and Do Boond Pani (1971). Abbas believed in doing films which not only satisfied his personal ego but also his social conscience. He wrote in one of his final columns for Blitz: “…see any of the pictures I produced and you will meet me.”
He was a popular Indian novelist. His style of writing pocketbooks which were a mixture of social issues and romance made him a hit among readers in North India. In the 1960s and ’70s, many of his novels were adapted into superhit films – Kaajal (1965), Neel Kamal (1968), Kati Patang (1970), Khilona (1970) and Sharmeelee (1971).
Yash Chopra made his debut as a producer with Daag (1973), an adaptation of a novel penned by Nanda. He worked with some of the best names in the industry, like LV Prasad, Ram Maheshwari, Shakti Samanta, Subodh Mukherjee, Yash Chopra and Chetan Anand. Kati Patang remains a timeless film and is still watched by people of different generations.
In his career spanning over 50 years, Bhowmick wrote more than 94 films including the National Award-winner Anuradha (1960), An Evening In Paris (1967), Brahmachari (1968), Khel Khel Mein (1975), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), Gol Maal (1979), Karan Arjun (1995), Koyla (1997), Koi... Mil Gaya (2003) and Krrish (2006).
He worked with top directors like J Om Prakash, Subhash Ghai, Rakesh Roshan, Nasir Husain, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Pramod Chakravorty, and more than half his films were silver jubilees. He was a legendary writer, adapting his writing to changing times.
The son of well-known poet Ram Das ‘Azad’, Prayag Raj started as a child actor at Prithvi Theatre. After doing cameos in Aag, Aawara and Professor, he wrote Phool Bane Angaarey, Juari, Jab Jab Phool Khile and additional dialogue for Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan. His association with Manmohan Desai began with Sachcha Jhoota (1970) and he subsequently co-scripted Rampur Ka Lakshman (1972), Roti (1974), Aa Gale Lag Jaa (1973), Parvarish (1977), Dharmveer (1977), Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), Suhaag (1979), Naseeb (1981) and Desh Premee (1982). He also wrote Raj Kapoor’s Dharam Karam (1975) and directed hits like Ponga Pandit (1975), Chor Sipahee (1977), Coolie (1983) and Geraftaar (1985). He also wrote Mard (1985), Gangaa Jamunaa Sarswathi (1988), Ajooba (1991) and Zamaanat (2006).
KA Narayan is a screenwriter largely associated with Dev Anand’s films. In 1967, Navketan produced the super hit Jewel Thief based on a crime caper story written by him. His other hit films include Duniya (1968), Pyar Hi Pyar (1969), Johny Mera Naam (1970), Victoria No 203 (1972), Banarasi Babu (1973), Amir Garib (1974) and Teesri Aankh (1982).
Nabendu Ghosh was a novelist, director and screenwriter. In association with Bimal Roy, he wrote some of the best scripts in Indian history like Parineeta (1953), Biraj Bahu (1954), Devdas (1955), Sujata (1959) and Bandini (1963). His scripts made every actor realise that no one is greater than the script. He also wrote the screenplay for Guru Dutt’s Aar Paar (1954), Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Majhli Didi (1967) and Abhimaan (1973). Moreover, he wrote the screenplay of Raj Khosla’s directorial debut film Milap (1954) and Manoj Kumar’s first film Kaanch Ki Gudiya (1961). He won his first National Award for Trishagni (1988).
He was a noted screenplay writer of Marathi and Hindi films and was active from the 1950s to 1980s. Some of his hit Hindi films, as a screenplay writer, were Kala Pani (1958), Do Badan (1966), Mera Saaya ( 1966), Anita (1967), Do Raaste ( 1969), Do Chor (1972), Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), Kuchhe Dhaage (1973), Basera (1981) and Pukar (1983). He co-wrote Do Premee (1980) with Gulshan Nanda. He was very close to the legendary filmmaker Raj Khosla and wrote the screenplay for most of his films.
A screenwriter in the ’50s and ‘60s, Akhtar Mirza won Filmfare Awards for Best Story for Naya Daur (1958) and Waqt (1966). His other notable films were Bawre Nain (1950), Ab Dilli Door Nahin (1957), Mohabbat Isko Kehte Hein (1965) and Dhund (1973).
- Rajat Arora