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The Story Of Salim Javed

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Salim Javed are undoubtedly one of the finest script-writers Bollywood has seen. Their stories were not the normal ru of the mill types. They dared to different and as the saying goes —”Fortune favors the brave.” Salim Javed became known as the hallmark of Bollywood story telling. When things were going all rosy for the writer duo a catastrophy occured. Salim-Javed split apart.

Ali Peter John reminisces the story of the two legendary writers Salim Javed in the folowing article.

The night Javed Akhtar received his first life time achievement award, I wondered if he would say anything about Salim Khan, his writing partner for several years, Salim-Javed, the team which gave film writing in India a new dimension and made the industry take the writer more seriously, give him the status he deserved, made the industry treat the writer like a star, made the industry pay them and give them the same or even more respect than some of the biggest stars. And I was right. The first name Javed Akhtar mentioned in his thanksgiving speech was the name of Salim Khan and I know many who remembered woh Salim-Javed ka zamaana and had lumps in their throats and tears glistening in their eyes because that zamaana would not come again, it could not come back again under any circumstances and with anyone….

Salim was Prince Salim, a distinctly princely-looking and dashing young man who had tried to make it as a hero in films and miserably failed. Javed was a poet from Bhopal who came to Bombay looking for work in films, a struggler who was never sure about his future and not even sure about how he would survive in a city like Bombay and where and when his next meal would come from. The two young men joined a group of other young writer who worked as a group in what was called the Story Department of Sippy Films, the company which made films like Andaaz, Seeta Aur Geeta and Sholay. Salim and Javed became very good friends and similar likes and dislikes and one day decided to leave the department and form a team of their own. They called themselves Salim-Javed and started a struggle which they were not sure which way it would take them. They walked around in no mans land from where the rising sun could never be seen.

The flick of the coin, their gamble paid off. And within a short span of time, they were Salim-Javed, the team of writers who proved that they had that extra strong cutting edge which put them in a class of their own. They wrote the scripts of films like Haathi Mere Saathi, Zanjeer, Seeta Aur Geeta, Sholay, Deewar, Trishul, Kala Patthar and the films, one and all of them turned out to be some of the biggest block-busters at the box office. Every film they wrote gave the films the kind of success other films could not even come anywhere near or dream of. They turned into master dream-merchants of a very high class specialize in turning dreams and dusts to gold and spectacular reality.

Sailm Javed

Salim-Javed were two names but one brand, a brand which guaranteed nothing but sure-fire hits. And the industry recognized and honoured them like it always does and bows and salutes every rising sun. Salim Javed were the superstars of the seventies and eighties. They traveled in the kinds of cars the superstar envied. They charged prices which made the stars look like miniature plastic toys. They had all the big filmmakers waiting at their doors, waiting for them to give them scripts at any price because they knew their scripts could change the stories of their lives. There were money bags and financers who told filmmakers, “Salim-Javed hai toh le jaao, jitna paisa chaahiye utna le jaao”. They were the first writers who were known in every corner were Hindi films were known and every place where Hindi films were once looked down upon. They gave films and film writing and the industry a new dignity. They gave writers who were fitted as doormats or munshis, a place of pride which was beyond the imagination of the most fertile brains. Then something seriously went wrong, something cracked, something snapped and the two men who created history made headlines in all the leading newspapers and magazines for months when they decided to SPLIT. They proved that all good things did not last all the time. They walked different ways and Salim was Salim Khan and Javed was Javed Akhtar and the world waited to see what the two would do now as individual writer.

Salim Khan the senior among the two was the first to find work on his own. He first wrote a film called Angaarey (Fire). A film could not even raise a flicker; forget raising the fire which was expected from his pen. He next wrote Falak (Sky) and the film fell flat on the ground on the very first day. He did not give up. He wrote Naam for the actor-producer Rajendra Kumar to be directed by Mahesh Bhatt with the star-sons, Kumar Gaurav and Sanjay Dutt desperately looking for a big break at a time when their rising careers were slipping dangerously. The film worked wonders for everyone. It proved that Salim Khan the writer was still alive, many believed. But strangely the work did not term to Salim Khan and he just gave up writing and forced people to ask all kinds of questions which he refused and still refuses to answer. He now concentrated on his family for which he had no time when he was right on top. He saw his elder son Salman showing interest in acting. He encouraged him and Salman took one step after another till he was accepted as a very big star. His other sons, Sohail and Arbaaz followed in their brother’s footsteps. He adopted a daughter and called her Alvira who is now married to Atul Agnihotri, a one-time actor. He made peace between his first wife Salma and Helen, the all-time great dancing star and made the family accept her as a part of it and made his children accept her as a mother. Today Salim Khan lives peaceful life, presiding over all matters at home and spending time on his farm house and I wonder if he wishes to remember that Salim Javed ka zamaana.

Javed Akhtar soon found his own way. He was fortunate to start of by writing big films like Betaab, Mashaal, Prem, Meri Jung and Roop Ki Raani Choron Ka Raaja. He could have continued writing scripts but Yash Chopra showed him a new direction. He knew Javed was a good poet. He asked Javed to try writing lyrics for films and gave him his first break in his own film Silsila which had to have some very good poetry and not just ordinary songs. Javed lived upto Yash’s expectations and was accepted as a good lyricist. And then there was no looking back for Javed Akhtar, the lyricist. His silsila of lyrics in films continued and is in full flow to this day. Javed Akhtar is a star again, a star in a new world created by himself, built with words, expressions and feelings which came to him very easily. He is the busiest and most wanted lyricist who demands and gets what he wants. He knows the exact technique of blending words, feelings and rhythm and tunes which are a must to be a successful lyricist. He has written songs for the most ambitious films and even small films where he felt he could make his contribution to the film. His work adds value and significance to the best of films. He has not stop with writing poetry just for films and music albums. He has taken to creative writing again after years. His collection of poems, Tarkash is considered to be a master piece in modern literature. He has recently written a play called Kaifi aur Main. He has taken to writing scripts again. He may direct a film very soon. He is Jaadoo (magic). He also keeps in touch with all that happens in society and the country. He finds time to take part in protest, seminars, debates and mushairas. The man who once suffered from stage fright can now stand on any stage any where in the world and can express his feelings strongly, lucidly and fearlessly. His personal life too has gone through all kinds of changes. He separated from his first wife, Honey, to marry the actress par excellence, Shabana Azmi but still has very close contacts with his former wife and their children, Farhan and Zoya with whom he is also working on the films. The man has won all the best awards others can only dream of. And his latest achievement is his being conferred the Padma Bhushan by the president of India. And like he said after receiving the life time achievement award, he was in no mood to throw in the towel but was only reinforced and recharged to start a new life all over again. Yeh zindagi bhi kitni ajeeb hai. Kabhi kis waqt kiske saath kya karegi kisiko kuch nahi pata, na Salim ko, na Javed ko, na kisi insaan ko.

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