Saturday, 11 May 2013

An afternoon with Salim Khan

That girl in a white dress, who by now, must have been disowned by half of the world for asking stupid questions,went close to him and managed to take his autograph. .A strange voice within me was screaming  at me since the time the workshop had ended to gather guts and walk up to him;certainly this girl inspired my move. I, someone who would never ever ask anyone for an autograph was actually overwhelmed by a man's honesty,intelligence and wit, that drove me to go running behind him, get blocked by the security, then find some other sneaky route to reach him and get the autograph.

I handed him over my flexible long book and a blue ball pen, he took it and found it difficult to hold the book without any support , struggling with the book and the pen he looked at me and said,"Beta ab ye aise mujhse likha nahi jata".

Yes I got it!!Salim Khan's Autograph.

He won't obviously remember this incident,considering the amount of experiences, encounters and episodes he's had in his life. I would be mad to expect that from the writer of 'SHOLAY'.

Let me tell you what prompted this star-struck encounter of mine.

I was at 'Whistling Woods', a renowned film school in Mumbai, to attend a 2 day free workshop festival celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema. All I was concerned about was this screenplay workshop, I had no clue about Mr. Salim Khan coming for the workshop. I had seen him on T.V. I never knew his story, his thoughts or his idea of films. I just knew that he was the famous SALIM of the famous writer duo SALIM-JAVED, who had written blockbuster movies like Sholay and Zanjeer and is Salman Khan's father.

He began with the words- "Bachpan Main, main Cricketer banna chahta tha"
Salim Khan wanted to be a cricketer. His family had its origins in Afghanistan, they had moved to India to provide  a better educational atmosphere to the younger generation of which Salim Khan was a part of. They used to stay in Indore . Education was of high importance in the Khan family. Every Sunday when  the magazine supplement used to come home from the city,young Salim was always encouraged to read it and this is how and when, Salim Khan Sahab's interest in reading was nurtured. He soon became a voracious reader, he used to read the papers which were used to wrap food items/clothing/gifts etc that deep lay his curiosity.

He also tried his hand at flying. He says,"Bohot kam log jaante hain ki main trained pilot hun, I have 100 hours of flying experience".

He then decided on becoming an actor. He was spotted at a wedding and was told to come to Mumbai for screen tests. Khan appeared in such films as Teesri Manzil (1966), Sarhaadi Lootera (1966) and Diwaana(1967), in total he has acted in 25 films.

He says," Self assessment is very important to achieve success. What you think about yourself is not important, what others think about you is important. If your self assessment is right then it will surely take you on the right path. You must recognize what you are good at and then give it a shot". He soon recognized his forte;which was writing.

When he wrote down  his first script, he chased Ashok Kumar to lend him 15 mins of his busy life and listen to the script. He said,"Maine ashok ji se kahan ki ek baar 15 min ke liye sun li jiye , phir aap khud kahenge ki aage sunao". Ashok Kumar did listen to his script and the film was made. In those days writers had no respect. They were paid very very less. In Salim Khan Sahab's words,"ek writer bhik mangta tha, kehta tha.... please paise de do mujhe.... ghar main bachhe hain ... parivaar hain.".

 He met Javed Akhtar on the sets of Sarhaadi Lootera. Salim Khan used to assist writer/director Abrar Alvi at first and Javed Akhtar used to assist Kaifi Azmi.Abrar Alvi and Kaifi Azmi were neighbours,from there on Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar became friends and both of them ventured into script writing. Salim-Javed were the ones who carved a place of recognition and respect for the writers. They were the first ones to develop the concept of complete script; complete script is the one which contains a perfect *screenplay; that which tells the exact number of scenes the film will contain-50scenes, 75 scenes. Their first big success was the script for Seeta Aur Geeta (1972). They also had hits in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Zanjeer (1973), Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975), Trishul (1978), Kranti (1981), Zamaana (1985) and Mr. India (1987). Salim-Javed, many a times described as "the most successful scripwriters of all-time", are also noted to be the first scriptwriters in Indian cinema to achieve star status.Never did a *screenplay mention the two words - 'The End', as the writer always assumed certain additions or modifications to occur time and again. Deewar was written in 18 days and Sholay was written in 32 days. Because Salim- Javed visualized the film clearly and then wrote down the scenes,they were very confident of what they wrote and insisted on having no changes done.

 According to them many of their contemporaries as well as their seniors had written great scripts, which were modified by the then directors and producers, as a result of which the film failed at the box office destroying a great writing piece. When Salim- Javed handed over the script of Zanjeer to Yash Chopra they had told him to not to change a full stop or a comma. He says,"If we won't protect our work ,who would?''. They were so confident about their screenplay that they knew, the transference of their visualization on screen would work wonders.

He recollected a very funny incident;when Zanjeer was released, its poster contained everyone's names but Salim-Javed's. They hired a painter to imprint their names in the empty spaces on all the posters in Mumbai city. However they didn't know that this painter was a drunkard; at night the painter imprinted their names on hero/heroine's/villian's faces. This embarrassment was a blessing in disguise. The producers who approached them later said,"Salim Sahab, app logon ko posters kharab karne ki  jarurat nahi padegi ... hum aapka naam bhi print karvaenge posters par."

He says,"Nothing is original. Originality is the art of conceding the source."
He quoted a very famous thinker saying,"Only a fool is original".
Every work is inspired from some source, either from our personal experiences or the kind of books and movies we come across. It depends on us how we interpret the source.
A classic example of the same is ;a film named 'Falak' was written by Salim Sahab which broke all records of failure. Mr. Subhash Ghai, told him,"Main isi script ko phirse banaunga... aur woh hit hogi" - this film was 'Ram Lakhan'(a super hit).

He describes his love for the art of writing through an incident. Salim sahab was very fond of reading, he had a collection of the best screenplays in the world and claims to have no intentions of giving it to anyone. He once stumbled upon a book named-"20 best screenplays'' at Mirza Sahab's place. He borrowed the book from Mirza Sahab with clear intentions of never returning it ; he knew it was the best screenplay book  and wasn't available in any bookshop. He says," Mirza Sahab ne mujhe kuch dino baad pucha toh maine kahan main padh raha hun, phir unhone aur kuch dino baad pucha tabhihi maine kaha ki main padh raha hun.... phir kuch dinon baad woh mujhe ek film ke set par mile tab unhone daat kar kaha ki, agar tumne mujhe woh kitaab nahi di toh main police main complain karunga. Tab maine turant jakarr woh kitab unhe wapas kar di. Hali main unka dehanth hua hain aur unke funeral main mujhe pata chala ki unhone unke bachon se kahan tha ki woh kitaab Salim ko de dena. Aur aaj woh kitaab mere paas hain".

He ended the afternoon on a beautiful thought which he had read in some book - "Art is nurtured in loneliness and exhibited in public".

screenplay- The movement of actors, their expressions, the throw of dialogue, the background set up is all described in a screenplay. For eg. Lets consider the first scene of sholay. It's screenplay would be something like this (roughly) Veeru and Jai are sitting down hand cuffed in a moving train.Jay is sleeping and the inspector is sitting on the seat.. Veeru looks at inspector and questions him.

1 comment:

  1. Good Piece Of writing.Salim Sahab's life journey,his entry into the industry covered in a blog in a very good way.