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JAVED SIDDIQI


Javed Siddique with Robin Bhatt


Old is Gold
JAVED SIDDIQI


 

 JAVED SIDDIQI

 

What is the connection between Satyajit Ray’s classic Shataranj Ke Khilari (1980) and the Shahrukh Khan starrer Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)? Two memorable Hindi films, completely different in style and form. And there is yet another form where the excellence gleams – Stage, the writer of one of India’s most famous original Hindi plays Tumhari Amrita. 

Come meet Javed Siddiqi – The writer who has penned the dialogues for the above two films and whose creative fertility conceived the celebrated play. A notable Hindi and Urdu screenwriter, dialogue writer and playwright Javed Siddiqi is a veteran war horse whose still continues to give of his excellence. 

 

Having written dialogues and screenplay for over 50 films, penning down about a dozen stage-plays, written and published several books of short stories and having collaborated with directors like Satyajit Ray, Yash Chopra and Shyam Benegal; Siddiqi is like an institute in himself. He speaks with authority over any subject, related or not related to film writing, in a cultured language suffused with modesty and a dry sense of humor. His filmography is an astonishing collection of titles - from hardcore commercial Hindi films to films belonging to parallel cinema, from non-Hindi films to adaptations, from script to story and screenplay to dialogues; Siddiqi has done it all. As a wizard of words, aptly nicknamed Jaadu (Magic), he writes in Urdu, Hindi and English with equal fluency. He is today an integral part of Indian Cinema’s history.

 Birth
Javed saab was born on the 13th of January 1942, in Rampur, a district in Uttar Pradesh. His father was the librarian of the famous Rampur Raza Library and because of this, Javed found a close association with books since his early days. He would write short stories which got published in the newspaper Khilafat run by his father’s cousin Zahid Shaukat Ali. The year in which he finished his Matric, from Aligarh University, his father passed away and circumstances burdened him with responsibilities at the tender age of 17. Just then, Zahid Shaukat Ali offered him a job and Javed landed in Mumbai. 

In Mumbai Javed had a long career in journalism, working for Inqilab, Khilafat and many more English and Urdu dailies and weeklies including an evening newspaper named Urdu Reporter which he himself founded. In 1975, at the time of emergency Javed was probed by the police for something he had written in his paper and was made to sit outside the special branch office for over 30 hours. Before he could leave he was threatened against reporting this incident to anyone. The humiliation caused by this indirect torture made Javed Siddiqi vow that he would never be a journalist ever again. 

Meeting Satyajit Ray and writing Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977) 

Robin Bhatt who interviewed Siddiqi for the FWA website starts the conversation with this line - “Javed saab, you started your career where any writer would wish to end up.” This is in reference with Siddiqi’s first ever film as a writer which was Shatranj Ke Khilari, directed by none other than Satyajit Ray. A trivial detail would be that when the ace Bengali director was gearing up to make his first Hindi feature film, he actually wanted to film Premchand’s Kafan. But when Ray came to know that Mrinal Sen, another acclaimed Bengali director, was also planning the same, he opted out. 

Finally, Ray chose another short story by Premchand, named Shatranj Ki Bazi which portrays the conditions at the time of British conquest of India. The problem which Ray faced was with the spoken language to be used in the film. The story is set in the 1850’s, a time when a Persian-ized Urdu was spoken in the cities. It wasn’t an easy task to write the dialogues and Ray had a list of candidates like Rajendra Singh Bedi, Gulzar, Kaifi Azmi and Akhtar-ul-iman to choose from. 

Satyajit Ray, being a perfectionist, did not want to meddle even slightly with the authenticity of his period film and thus ruled out Rajendra Singh Bedi and Gulzar because both of them hailed from Punjab while the film was set in Lucknow. He opted out against considering Akhtar-ul-iman, a favorite with B.R Films, because he did not want overtly dramatic dialogues. However, Ray was keen to meet Kaifi Azmi but learnt that Azmi knew only one language which was Urdu while Ray himself could only speak Bengali and English. Thus, there was a serious problem of communication between the writer and the director and when Shabana Azmi, Kaifi Azmi’s daughter, volunteered to be an interpreter, Ray said, “It can’t happen. The writer and the director are like a husband and a wife. They have to communicate with each other.” 

In the end, as if destiny was writing its own script, Siddique’s close friend Shama Zaidi who was doing the costume of the film suggested his name to Ray. Siddique was called up by Zaidi and told “Satyajit Ray wants to meet you” and for a moment he had actually hesitated going fearing it to be a practical joke by the fun loving Shama. But on his wife’s advice Siddique first confirmed with the hotel, where Shama had asked him to go, whether Ray was actually staying there and then, suppressing his nervousness, finally went to meet the director. The first thing which Ray said was - “I am told that you are a very good short story writer.” Siddique replied “Nobody can be a good judge of his own work. If you may allow me I can get some of my work translated from Urdu to English and then you can read them.” Ray said “No, having a look at you is enough. Here’s the script. You are writing my film.” Precisely within three and a half minutes, Ray decided that Javed Siddique was writing the dialogues of Ray’s first (and also last) Hindi film! 

Siddique recalls the charismatic persona of Ray with these words. “That man had an amazing ability to judge anyone by just looking at him or her. Manik’da (Satyajit Ray’s nickname) offered Saeed Jaffery the role of Mir when the two accidentally met at Beirut Airport!” 

But the producers were wary of signing Siddique who did not have any background in film writing. They asked him to give a narration in front of eminent Urdu scholars. Siddique read out his entire script in front of a panel which also included the director Satyajit Ray who commented “Well, I don’t know what he has written but it sounds good.” Siddique got the film. 

Not knowing the basics of writing a Screenplay, Siddiqi went to Shama Zaidi and asked her to help him in the assignment. Both of them finished the whole dialogue draft in eight days and thus formed a partnership which lasted for another 15-16 films. Sharing his reminiscence of writing Shatranj Ke Khilari, Siddiqi says, “A challenge was that one could not have used the actual Urdu which was used in that era. But because it was very Persian-ized Urdu, it would not have been comprehensible. So the dialogues had to be written in a way that they not only feel authentic but at the same time are also easily understood. To give an example there is a situation where Mir says – We will go in the morning and return by the evening. Now to put simply, this would translate as – Savere Chalenge Shaam Ko Laut Aayenge. But just to give a feel that the spoken language is not from the contemporary times what I wrote was – Tadke Chalenge Jhutpute Mein Laut Aayenge. Shama also pointed out that in most Hindi films all the characters talk alike and we did not want that because it’s very unreal. So we kept that in mind while writing Shatranj Ke Khilari in which characters speak in different tones and dialects. We tried to achieve that sort of an orchestral balance.” 

Siddiqi also translated the dialogue into English for Ray to understand them. He would be present on the sets all the time to aid the director and the actors. He was elevated to the post of Dialogue Director. But he didn’t stop at that. Once, Ray found him correcting the Art Department about placing of a prop. Siddique had saw that Matke were being used instead of Ghade (both are types of mud-vessels used to store drinking water) to be placed in the backdrop. Being from a Zamindar family Siddique had an advantage of being familiar with the Lucknowi culture and he had bright ideas which could improve the overall authenticity of the film. Realizing this, Ray also asked him and Shama to also look after the set decoration and ultimately, Siddiqui ended up being Chief Assistant to Ray. 

He speaks of his experience with a spark in his eyes. “In those one and a half or two years a new world was getting unfolded in front of my eyes. This world of filmmaking was a real treasure. It was so beautiful and absorbing and it welcomed anyone who had passion. It completely drew me in. I wanted to know every bit about each and every department. I learnt a lot and I am so proud of it,” he says. 

Career in Films 

After a successful coalition with one of the topnotch directors of world cinema Javed Siddiqi never had to look back. Right after finishing Shatranj Ke Khilari, he met Umesh Mehra, through Abrar Alvi. Mehra was making Ali Baba Aur Chalis Chor (1980), which was an Indo-Soviet co-production, and asked Siddiqi to write the dialogues for the same. 

In a career spanning over 35 years, Javed Siddiqi collaborated with some of India's most prominent filmmakers, from independent directors like Satyajit Ray, Shyam Benegal, M. S. Sathyu, Muzaffer Ali, Robin Dharmraj and Khalid Mohamed to mainstream directors like Manmohan Desai, Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai, Rakesh Roshan and Mahesh Bhatt. He is arguably the only writer who has equally made a mark in both, commercial as well parallel cinema. 

Before Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) got released and became an all-time smash hit, Baazigar (1993) had already proved to be another landmark in Javed Siddiqi’s career as a film writer. Siddiqi wrote it with Robin Bhatt and Akash Khurana. It focused on a menacingly negative hero and was nothing less than a shock. Everyone inside the industry raised their doubts but when it finally got released, it went to become a big hit and fetched the Filmfare award to its writers. Siddiqi shares his experience of writing Baazigar and says “Actually we were ourselves skeptical of the subject initially. The main character was an extension of the image of angry young man which was created by Salim-Javed. He was a cold blooded murderer. But I would say it was the conviction of three people which made that film possible – Shahrukh Khan, Ratan Jain the producer and Robin Bhatt, my co-writer. These three guys were assured that this film would work.”

 “Another thing was that Abbas-Mustan, the directors, went with the writers in buying the sympathy of the audience right at the start of the film. Once you have done that the audience can forgive anything. Once they have seen that this man went through so much pain, all his crimes get justified. They no longer remain crimes but acts of revenge.” 

Javed Siddiqi’s most notable films:

Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977, dialogues), M. S. Sathyu’s Bara (Sookha) (1980, screenplay), Umesh Mehra’s Ali Baba Aur 40 Chor (1980, screenplay-dialogues), Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan (1981) (dialogues, screenplay), Robin Dharmraj’s Chakra (1981, screenplay-dialogues), Abbas-Mustan’s Baazigar (1993, screenplay), Yash Chopra’s Darr (1993, dialogues), Shyam Benegal’s Mammo (1994, dialogues), Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995, dialogues), Dharmesh Darshan’s Raja Hindustani (1996, dialogues), Subhash Ghai’s Pardes (1997, dialogues), Abbas-Mustan’s Soldier (1998, dialogues), Subhash Ghai’s Taal (1999, dialogues), Shyam Benegal’s Zubeidaa (2001, dialogues), Rakesh Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya (2003, dialogues) and Khalid Mohamed’s Tehzeeb (2003, dialogues).

 Along with two Filmfare Awards, (Baazigar - Best Screenplay and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge - Best Dialogues Siddiqi) has won several other popular awards for the films which he has written. 

Theatre

Javed Siddiqi has also been a successful playwright and a committed IPTA (Indian People’s Theater Association) activist while continuing to be its National Vice President. He also played a crucial role in setting up its Marathi wing.

 His most famous play is Tumhari Amrita, based on A R Gurney's classic American play Love Letters which shows two lovers reading letters to each other. It’s performed by Shabana Azmi and Farooq Shaikh and is being staged since 1992. Tumhari Amrita has been translated into many languages like Punjabi, Bangla, Marathi, and Kannada and has also been invited to United Nations. 

List of plays penned by Javed Siddiqi: 

Tumhari Amrita (based on A R Gurney's Love Letters, performed by Shabana Azmi and Farooq Shaikh), Apki Soniya (a sequel to Tumhari Amrita, performed by Farooque Sheikh and Sonali Bendre), Begum Jaan (performed by Nadira Babbar and Juhi Babbar), Saalgirah (performed by Kirron Kher and Anupam Kher), Shyam Rang (performed by Sachin Khedekar and Swaroop Sampat), Hamesha (performed by Dinesh Thakur), Raat (adapted from Ariel Dorfman’s Death And The Maiden, performed by Anjan Shrivastav), Kachhe Lamhe (based on Gulzar’s story named Seema, performed by Harsh Chhaya, Kiran Karmarkar and Lubna Salim), Andhe Chhohey (adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Mouse Trap), P.K. Seth Ne Peeke Bola (adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Puntilla And His Man Matti), Rakshus (adapted from Evgeny Schwartz’s Dragon), Laal Mitti (adapted from Lorca’s Blood Wedding), Kacche Lamhe, Dhuaan, Aur Agle Saal, Kate Hue Raaste, Patjhad se Zara Pehle, Woh Ladki, Mogra, Maati Kahe Kumhar Se, Peele Patton ka Ban and 1857: Ek Safarnama. 

Siddiqi speaks about his diversion, or rather an extension of his writing ability, towards theatre and says, “My plays are my reaction to the films I got. I did not get to write the kind of films I wanted to write. Films have become very demand-friendly. Every time you are told what exactly you have to write which means you are not even like a music composer, you are just an instrumentalist. You wish to put in your own suggestions but the tune is already set and you just have to play to it in a prescribed fashion. Everybody thinks within his own limits and does not even hear you out. So that leaves you with a feeling of frustration. While writing a film everybody piles you with a stack of questions. They all want you to keep making changes to your work. I remember once there was a rich man who wanted to make a film. He roped me in and when I submitted my work, he asked – What have you written? Are these called dialogues? It’s almost as if two people are having a conversation! - So what can one explain to such people?” 

“Ultimately, stage gave me the freedom to be the God or the king. I could write on subjects which can never be made into films. There is a satisfaction in theatre. There is also a scope of self-improvement which is not there in films. Every show of a play is an experiment and gets a new character added to it which is the audience. Another fascinating thing with theater is that you can interpret and re-interpret the text. We keep finding new meanings beneath the surface and new explanations behind what has already been explained. That is why Shakespeare and Kalidas are still relevant after hundreds of years.” 

“In cinema the clap is important. It only tells whether you have been right or wrong which decides your fate. On the other hand even if theatre doesn’t yield any money it provides a satisfaction which you can use while applying yourself in something which is causing you dissatisfaction.” 

Javed Siddiqi has also had a brush with television writing scripts for serials like Shyam Benegal's Bharat Ek Khoj, Ramesh Sippy's Kismet, Yash Chopra's Waqt and a couple of others. He is also an author of book named Roshandan which is a collection of ten pen-sketches. Amongst these ten people he has written about, are famous personalities like Abrar Alvi, Habib Tanvir, Niaz Haider, Sulatan Jaffery and a few people only Siddiqi has personally known. In the preface of the book he writes – Duniya Ki Aankhein Hamesha Se Hi Kamzor Rahi Hain, Wo Sirf Unko Dekh Saki Hai Jinke Sar Pe Ujaale Hote Hai (The world has always had poor sight. It could see only those who had an aura around them.) 

Sharing his source of inspiration behind writing the book Siddiqi says, “I wrote about ordinary people too, whom only I personally have known, because I wanted the world to know them. Gulzar said the other day about my book – Many words which were almost lost have now been preserved - So this is what happens when one writes. Of course, our generation is the most privileged one, as it is said in the West, but there were times before today and there will be times after it. My play Begum Jan is also a documentation of my own experiences because I feel it’s my moral duty to share. I think we all should try to store or preserve the time we are living in. That same sense of duty compelled me to pen down Roshandan. Also, memories are very dear to one’s heart and in an age like mine one wants to go through them again and again. We find it filled with pictures – beautiful and faded, each of which brings back a story. Why not write those stories if they are interesting enough?” 

Personal life 

Married to Farida Siddiqi, Javed saab has four children Murad, Lubna, Sameer and Zeba. Lubna Salim, a stage actor-singer, is married to theatre and television director Salim Arif. Murad and Sameer are also associated with Films and TV. 

Unlike his many counterparts, Javed Siddiqi shows no signs of grudges about the present state of the film industry and when he does lament about a thing or two it all comes with his amiable smile. 

He says - “Unfortunately, today the film industry is being run by people who take cinema as a product and nothing else. How can you find artistes in a corporate house? Nobody turns down an offer because of a social concern. We do express our concerns otherwise but while working as professionals what say do we have in making of any film? We would have definitely made the films which we actually want to make if we were making them at our own expense, but the kind of films which we are actually working for, are not those films. I have almost taken retirement because I can’t write films that are being demanded of me. But it all doesn’t matter to those who are making those kinds of films. They are not concerned with morals but only money.” 

“I am not being cynical but I am assured that I and people like me will soon disappear into oblivion. I am being very practical. There was a time when Art and Commerce would be hand in hand while making a film. Today it’s just commerce. Item songs are used because they are sellable commodities. I agree that the writer doesn’t move things but he can at least do his bit in case he comes across something that he doesn’t deem good and forewarn the makers that they are not on the right track. And if at all he has to go against his principles to do something which is not right he can at least part himself from the project on a moral level by waiving off his credits. I have done so in several films.”

Javed Siddiqi’s life journey can be summed up in the writer’s own words – 

“I have had a very little role in whatever has happened in my life so far. I have always been kicked into things. Though, for a few days, I attended press shows for an Urdu newspaper Inqilab and wrote film reviews I had never thought of becoming a film writer. I have been one of those lucky people who have worked with almost all sorts of directors. I have been very fortunate to work with such stalwarts. These were not people, but parallel worlds in themselves. Nobody achieves greatness for no reason. I don’t believe destiny and luck are such big parameters. Actually if you look at the lives of these people as case studies, you find out that they had it in them. It’s a different matter whether I did good work or the films which I did with these people met with success or not, because I feel it’s an achievement in itself that I could actually be with them.” 

WRITING FOR FILMS: Craft and Challenges 

Javed Siddiqi, with all his experience in writing had many suggestion, tips, advise for the young writers taking up Screenwriting as a profession. 

This is what he has to say. 

Being a Writer 

I have been one of those lucky few who have worked with almost all sorts of directors, and that too dozens of them. I have found that everyone has or had his own process, procedure or methodology because everyone had his own way of thinking. Your way of thinking is like a candle in your hand that shows you the path. Once William James was asked by someone – How can I become a writer; and all he said was – Pick up a pen and a paper and start writing. So it is necessary that you put down your thoughts. 

There is another thing which a big director had said in an interview – Ask a question and start answering it; that will be your story. After all these years of functioning as a writer I have realized that it’s a foolproof method. 

Pick up films like Ganga Jumna (1961), Deewar (1975), Sholay (1975) or Lagaan (2001). They pose questions and then try to give the answers. Ganga Jumna and Deewar ask – What if one of the two sons of a mother becomes an outlaw while the other defends the law. Sholay asks – How does a man take his revenge whose both hands have been cut off? Lagaan poses – What if a bunch of villagers who are unable to pay their tax get into an impossible bet against winning a game of cricket? I also wrote the dialogues of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) which again has a beautiful situation where the lead character says that he would not ask his lover to run away with him but will make her father give his consent. This is like a mission impossible situation and we are hooked to see how he will achieve his goal. This actually becomes the USP of the film. So every story or film has a question. Today it’s easy to think of answers to these questions and relate them to these films but when these stories were being written, the writers were just following their own leads. 

Storytelling 

One should not think the story can make sense only when it’s developed over 300 pages of a screenplay. First it should appeal when said out in 10 lines. Those 10 lines should hold your attention. If it does then 10 pages of that story will also be effective and so will the 10 reels of that film. The thing is if you have got your base correct, you can easily expand on that. You can develop it into sequences, break the sequences into scenes and can go down to the nitty-gritty. 

Storytelling is an art. It can’t be learnt or taught. It’s like the ability to crack a joke. Two people would tell the same joke in completely different ways and fetch different reactions. So it all depends on how you say it and for that you should also be aware of how people before you have said it. We know that thousands of films have been made till now. Essentially they all have at least one love scene. You can imagine that there must some sort of variety in all the love scenes filmed till date. This is an amazing thing and therefore while writing a love scene in your film, you think of all this and then the artiste in your mind gives it his own touch. In DDLJ the boy realizes that he is in love and to confirm it he says to himself – If she loves me she will turn and look back. She does and there you have confirmed that the love story has started. In Mughal E Azam (1960) the mood of love is created via music and the picturesque backdrop while the pretty Madhubala essaying the role of Anarkali lies next to Dilip Kumar who plays the character of Salim. There is so much left to imagination in both these scenes and that is the beauty. Similarly, in many of Yash Chopra’s films the heroine is seen running across sarso-fields while violins play in the backdrop. So it’s you who chooses how to deal with a particular scene and that’s where your way of thinking comes into play. Any good director knows what sort of lens or shot is needed to create the impact which he wants to create. I also assisted James Ivory who would never tell his cameraman Walter Lassally what to do but only what impact he wanted to create. So if you know what you need to create, your job is done. 

To be a writer, there are no hard and fast rules. I would quote what my Guru Abrar Alvi said to me – If you can’t see the film in your mind, you can’t write it. So if you can ‘see’ the story while writing it it’s likely that others would also start to see it when you would narrate it. Every word produces an image in the mind of the listener, which is different for everyone. If I say ‘your house’ everyone would think of his own house. So a writer should be familiar with the impact of a word and be very thoughtful while choosing every single word.

Screenplay 

While writing a screenplay, do try to incorporate words which create an image in the mind of the reader. But do not ever try to teach direction to the director. Don’t leave notes about actual shot-taking until and unless you feel that is imperative to get the desired effect. The director enhances what the writer has written and if both work in tandem a good script can be prepared. Eminent film writer of the golden era Rajendra Singh Bedi has said a beautiful thing – Everyone knows how to step ahead but not many know where to put a stop. It’s no use writing unending dialogues, no matter how clap worthy they are, because what is important is to know if the scene holds together. I personally believe dialogues should be short, crisp and sharp, like that couplet from Rahim which says arrows, being shorter, are more destructive than swords. 

After writing each scene read it like a stranger and for every line question yourself if it can be cut out. If you see that chopping of a line doesn’t hamper the scene, cut it out immediately. It clearly means that the line was unnecessary because if it wasn’t, you could never have cut it out. 

Similarly while writing screenplay never try to jump to the casting. If you have already imagined Amitabh Bachchan playing a certain role then it would be very difficult to get rid of that feeling. What I do is I write down something and then keep it aside for 5-6 months. After that I read it again in a new light and then I start to see so many inconsistencies that it makes me wonder why I did not see them earlier. But I could not because I was deeply involved with the material. 

How to Adapt

92 percent of Hollywood films are adapted from books. It has two advantages. First the makers know beforehand the reach of the story. They have an idea how popular the film can become. Secondly you get material to construct your script from. But it’s not easy to adapt a book. 

Shama Zaidi and I wrote and adapted a script that went to become a very popular film named Umrao Jaan (1981). It’s based on an Urdu novel named Umrao Jan Ada written by Mirza Hadi Ruswa that was published around 1906-08. The film and the novel are both drastically apart. The novel falls back to the writing style of that era as the writer goes into many directions. It’s set against a backdrop of the British culture spreading it roots in India. Shama and I decided that we only needed the story of Umrao Jan Ada from the text and wrote it separately. Then we started adding necessary details and set-ups which were required to tell her story. 

Actually the novel writer has an advantage that he can paint any picture through his words but when you have to translate that into a screenplay you need to make efforts. I give an example whenever I take a lecture. Suppose I say X loved Y. It’s clearly understood and you don’t raise any question but if I have to show it to you on screen, it will need at least 10 scenes. You will need to know who are X and Y and their backgrounds, when did they fall in love which means there would be at least one love scene and so on. 

Craft of Writing

Robin Bhatt: I remember there was a time when you were writing for directors like Yash Chopra, Subhash Ghai and Mahesh Bhatt, all at the same time. Is it practical? How can one manage writing like that? 

Javed Siddiqi: A good chef knows how to cook good Khichdi as well as good Biryani. I believe your mind should be like a CD player which should play only what is required of it. You have to make use of the On-Off switch and adjust yourself. Every writer comes from a certain kind of background and upbringing which form his set of ideas. But I advocate that your own personality should not reflect in each of the film you write. You should be a part of it and not the whole. It’d be like a chef who puts Garam Masala in every dish and ruins all of them. Some may require it, some may not. 

I always try to push myself and write what is required of me but only if it’s something which is within my reach. I can’t write the kind of comedies which are being made today and thus I don’t take such projects. I have written films like Umrao Jaan (1981) and Chakra (1981) that are drastically different from each other. Umrao Jaan has the beauty of a refined language while in Chakra there is a cussword in every other line. So I could elevate myself to the world of Nawab’s for Umrao Jaan and at the same time I could also walk on the footpath of Chakra. Only if a writer has this ability of being versatile he is a good writer. If he ends up mixing it all, he is not. 

Robin Bhatt: Who is a good writer, in your opinion? 

Javed Siddiqi: A good writer is one who can do justice to the seed of the film. If he can help it germinate and become a flowery tree, he is right up there. I tell new writers whenever I go for a lecture – What is to be said is your story. How it is to be said is the screenplay. What has to be spoken are your dialogues. 

About the craft of writing, all I have to say is that it should never hijack your creativity. The way cricket today has been turned into a science it has no longer remained a game and similar should not happen to one’s creativity. 

On Co-Writing 

Robin Bhatt: You, Sujit’da, Akash Khurana and I worked together for such a long time. Even in those days people would ask me how we could collaborate with such efficiency. They could not digest it. What is your take? 

It’s true that we had our share of fights and disagreements but all of it would eventually settle down. The thing was that we never doubted each other’s intentions. We had it clear that we were all working for the same common goal, which was the film. We had that faith in each other that nobody was trying to argue because of his ego. We knew it was a matter of difference of opinion and as a result one or the other would compromise and thus we would reach a conclusion. 

Social Responsibility 

Robin Bhatt: Do writers have a social responsibility and need to consciously make an effort to raise their concern over blazing social issues? 

Javed Siddiqi: Unfortunately, nobody turns down an offer because of a social concern. We do express our concerns otherwise but while working as professionals what say do we have in making of any film? There was a time when Art and Commerce would be hand in glove while making a film. Today it’s just commerce. Item songs are used because they are sellable commodities. I agree that the writer doesn’t move things but he can at least do his bit in case he comes across something that he doesn’t deem good and forewarn the makers that they are not on the right track. And if at all he has to go against his principles to do something which is not right he can at least part himself from the project on a moral level by waiving off his credits. I have done so with several films. 

A Final Word

Javed Siddiqi: A film is another name for the word conviction. Every film has its own mood. You have to shed all your inhibitions before entering a film’s space and then you can enjoy the ride. Every film comes with a demand chart of its own and you have to be in the right kind of mood to receive it. While writing a film I submerge myself into it completely. I don’t carry the baggage of all that which I have previously written. And remember, story is supreme and you have to fulfill its demand. The story is not there to meet your demands but vice versa. 

(The detailed filmography of Mr. Javed Siddiqi can be reached via his official website: http://www.javedsiddiqi.com/home.php

 



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