Behind the big names is a long list of film writers whose lines we remember but names we don’t
Our industry is a star-studded industry and we do go to watch a film because of the actors in it. But with changing times, the boundary between commercial cinema and ‘art cinema’ is blurring. Filmmakers are finally realising that good cinema always works.
Simultaneously, our audiences have matured and are getting more cinema-literate. Today, it’s not just the actors, movie-goers’ choices are also influenced by who the film’s director and writer are. And, thus, writers are gaining more acknowledgement than they ever did.
The legendary duo Salim-Javed and Gulzar saab are obviously at the top of everyone’s list when we think of writers. Apart from them, in no particular order, here is my list of writers whose work I love, respect, admire and continue to be in awe of.
Who can forget lines like ‘Mohabbat jo darrti hai woh mohabbat nahi, ayyashi hai, gunaah hai’ from Mughal-E-Azam. Or ‘Sansaar ka bhaar toh uthaa logi Devi, mamta ka bhaar nahi uthaya jaayega. Ma banke dekho, tumhare paanv bhi dagmagaa jaayenge’ from Mother India. One of our most prolific and iconic writers, Mr Mirza was part of cinematic gems like Aurat, Mother India, Gunga Jumna, Leader and Mughal-E-Azam. The dialogue in each of his films can be studied for posterity for its perfect mix of art and entertainment.
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
Noted journalist, author and screenwriter, Padma Shri KA Abbas was perhaps one of the finest screenwriters ever born in India. His film Neecha Nagar won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes way back in 1946. His association with Mr Raj Kapoor in films like Jagte Raho, Awaara, Shree 420, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby and Henna was legendary. His writing had a socio-political context that truly makes his films emblematic of their times.
Novelist, screenwriter, intellectual, feminist, reformist, Padma Shri Ismat Chugatai could easily be termed the Simone de Beauvoir of India. Her writings in films include Garm Hava, Junoon, Arzoo and Ziddi. Ismat aapa, as she was popularly known, was part of the Progressive Writers Movement and her revolutionary ideas continue to be relevant to India to this day.
One cannot think of screenwriting in India and not take the name of the legendary Sachin Bhowmick. Mr Bhowmick has a whopping 98 credits on IMDB! Indian cinema would be soul-less without his powerful words. Some of his iconic films include Anuradha, Majboor, An Evening In Paris, Bhramachari, Aradhana, Caravan, Andaz, Golmal, Karz and Saudagar – the list is endless. The man was an institution.
Here’s another very prominent writer whose work in classics like Kabhi Kabhie, Doosara Aadmi, Chandni, Anubhav, Bazaar and Silsila continues to stand the test of time. Mr Sarhadi is a stalwart, a living legend, and still passionately writing films. His lines like ‘Daag daaman pe nahin, dil pe liya hai maine’ are unforgettable.
One of India’s most popular, prolific and exemplary writers, Mr Nanda was an author and screenwriter par excellence. Some of his seminal work include Daag, Neel Kamal, Bhanwar, Patthar Ke Sanam, Sharmeelee, Jugnu and of course Kati Patang. His absolute mastery over his craft, as well as the sheer emotional scape of his characters, both in his books and his screenplays, was truly remarkable.
One of the first trailblazing female scriptwriters in India, Honey Irani gave voice to stories from the female perspective in far more patriarchal times. Whether Lamhe, Aaina or Kya Kehna, her writing resonates with us even today. She continues to inspire with her work in films like Koi... Mil Gaya and Krrish.
One of the Hindi film industry’s most commercially successful writers, Prayag Raj’s contribution to Hindi cinema has been immense. Whether films like Amar Akbar Anthony, Coolie, Roti, Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi, Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan or the countless more super hits he has to his name, Mr Raj’s name always spelt only one thing: Entertainment.
Legendary actor-writer Kader Khan has more than 109 writing credits to his name. Most of these films were blockbusters. One of the best dialogue writers ever to have graced Indian cinema, Mr Khan has to his credit films like Rafoo Chakkar, Khel Khel Mein, Amar Akbar Anthony, Mr Natwarlal, Do Aur Do Paanch, Satte Pe Satta and Agneepath, among a plethora of others.
His lines like. ‘Baap ki di hui pistol yaad hai, pistol dene wala baap yaad nahi’ are forever emblazoned in the history of Indian cinema. He is a known name in the industry and the audience alike, but people in his time knew that he was a multi-talented personality. Alas, today’s youngsters are not aware that he was a great writer too. Today, we remember him for his acting as we have seen him portraying some amazing roles.
- Ishita Moitra