It’s one of those tragic ironies that a film writer is not regarded as ‘glamorous’ enough to be remembered for their work. Yet, they are one of the pillars of our industry
Admitted, ours is an industry that idolises, is seduced by and whose business thrives on glamour but the arc lights have blinded us to many creative lights, whose work lives on but whose names we have forgotten. Alas, there’s only so much room at the top, a predicament reinforced by the industry, the media and the paparazzi. Here are nine film writers who are not remembered enough.
I doubt anybody outside industry circles in this generation has ever heard of Sachin Bhowmick. He had a five-decade-long career ending with co-writing Krrish in 2006, after making his debut as early as 1958. An Evening In Paris, Aradhana, Bemisaal, Gol Maal, Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahi and Koi... Mil Gaya these are only a few varied, entertaining and successful films of his career. It is a pity that outside the extremely talented, legendary and worldly-wise Salim-Javed, no other writer of their generation or from an earlier generation has even been spoken about much. Having written almost every genre, Bhowmick should have been appreciated a lot more.
This story gets a little personal. When I first met his children, I didn’t know who their dad was for quite some time. Had they been the children of any actor or director associated with films like Amar Akbar Anthony, Suhaag, Coolie, Geraftaar, Mard, Insaaf or Jaanbaaz, not only me but the whole world would have known who they were. The Hindi film audience and audiences the world over have very little interest in film writers. Consequently, the press also has very little interest in them. Everyone wants to enjoy their stories. Nobody wants them to enjoy any fame.
Pandit Mukhram Sharma
There is a Dada Sahab Phalke Award, there is an RD Burman Award, there is a Lata Mangeshkar Award but there never will be a Pandit Mukhram Award because, according to the people behind all award functions, people would rather watch a minor star cracking jokes rather than see a film writer make a thank you speech. Pandit Mukhram Sharma was one of the earlier writers who was credited properly and wrote some terrific socials like Dhool Ka Phool, Sadhna, Samadhi and Jeene Ki Raah, but he also remains largely unacknowledged.
Robin Bhatt began as part of a trio with Akash Khurana and Javed Siddiqui. This writing trio wrote extremely sophisticated films with lighthearted life-like dialogue and were pioneers of the quasi-realistic commercial film. But somehow when your work is being directed by an in-form Mahesh Bhatt, you are likely to be ignored. Independent of Mahesh Bhatt, they have had several hits. Javed Siddiqui is of course credited as the dialogue writer of a film that is still running in theatres – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – but Robin Bhatt is easily credited with co-writing about 25 hits. Aashiqui, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin, Sadak and Baazigar right up till Koi... Mil Gaya, Omkara and Chennai Express. He has 71 writing credits. Reams and reams have been written about some of the starlets who starred in them but I have hardly read anything about Bhatt except his credit in many earlier films of his which inspired me with novel, quasi-realistic situations.
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
Although some of the writers on this list have directed an odd feature film, KA Abbas directed quite a bit more and I was tempted to leave him out of this list but then he wrote more and directed more documentaries, so I mention him without any guilt as more a part of our tribe. It is a fact that the writer/co-writer of Awara, Shree 420, Bobby, Jaagte Raho, Mera Naam Joker and Achanak is largely unsung. He is known more for his ideological leanings and the man who gave a break to the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, rather than as a writer of some landmark Hindi films.
A lot more people know the child actor Honey Irani than the brave woman and writer of some extremely sensitive films like Lamhe and Aaina. And for those who are prejudiced and think that a woman writer is only capable of writing women-centric films and cannot write entertaining potboilers, there are always hits like Suhaag, Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai and Koi... Mil Gaya to defy that stereotype. Her work in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge remains uncredited by her own admission but she got written more in the context of that controversy than her actual work. Irani is a female writer who has more commercial hits than any man of her era.
The man who is credited with the screenplay of Abhimaan should have never been on this list. Neither should the screenplay writer of Pratigya and nor the one who wrote the screenplay for Aar Paar. Bandini should have got him out of this but the fact that he is still here has proved to be a lesson for me. Whenever I am questioned about trying to write almost anything good that I am offered, I am always tempted to ask, ‘Do you know Nabendu Ghosh?’ I surely need to write at least a couple of Pinks, a few B.A. Passes, a number of Airlifts and many more Raids and D-Days to ever be talked about. But I acknowledge that fate dealt me a better hand than many of them.
Inder Raj Anand
Although he doesn’t need a pleader, let me start by mentioning that he is credited with writing Aag, Aah, Anari and C.I.D. and the dialogue of Safar, Ek Duje Ke Liye, Julie and Ek Nayi Paheli. Yet there are chances that you would have heard more about his son Tinnu Anand and grandson Sidharth Anand, who have also done some big films but nowhere close to the kind of films which Inder Raj Anand wrote or wrote for.
I mention the name of a writer who wrote for films like Aar Paar, Mr. And Mrs. 55, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Professor, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and the dialogue of the iconic Pyaasa but whatever you would have read about him would be in the context of whether or he directed Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Such is the fate of the writer.
- Ritesh Shah