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The poet-lyricist-screenwriter, Javed Akhtar, is close to completing 50 years in Hindi cinema. Having started his career as a dialogue writer on films like Yakeen (1969) and then being a part of the story department at Sippy Films, Javed Akhtar has come a long way. He has found immeasurable success, both as one half of the legendary Salim-Javed scriptwriting combine and as a songwriter. In the upcoming episode of The Golden Years: 1950-1975, which also doubles up as the grand finale of this fine programme, Javed sa’ab takes viewers through his own journey of how he started writing lyrics and the many great songs he has written in Hind cinema.
As Javed sa’ab notes in this special, last episode, which airs this Sunday at 8 pm, “I started writing poetry around 1978-1979. It’s not surprising that I started writing poetry, but what is indeed more surprising is that why didn’t I start writing poetry earlier in life… This is because, on my father’s side, poetry has been a part of our family for seven generations. Even my mother’s brother was the great poet Majaaz.” Among the people who were aware of Javed sa’ab’s foray into poetry was filmmaker Yash Chopra. Javed sa’ab had worked with Yash ji on a number of films including Deewaar (1975), Trishul (1978) and Kaala Patthar (1979). Since Yash ji had a keen understanding of poetry, it was he who convinced Javed sa’ab to write the songs for Silsila (1981), which then came to be Javed Akhtar’s first film as songwriter.
The success of Silsila’s songs prove that Yash Chopra had unearthed a rare talent. From the wonderful title track of the film, to the pensive nature of ‘Neela aasmaan so gaya’ and the ever so beautiful ‘Yeh kahaan aa gaye hum’, Javed Akhtar and music composers Shiv-Hari combined to create one fine composition after another.
One of Javed sa’ab’s most polished efforts on the songwriting front came for Ramesh Sippy’s Saagar (1985). The poet-lyricist had earlier worked with the filmmaker for Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), Sholay (1975) and Shakti (1982). Even though Saagar didn’t do well at the box office, the songs—be it ‘Saagar kinaarey’ or ‘Chehra hai ya chaand khila hai’ or ‘Sach mere yaar hai’—are still appreciated by listeners today for the lyrics. Javed sa’ab narrates an interesting episode behind ‘Chehra hai ya chaand khila hai’ where he claims that he wrote his lyrics for this song, ignoring the tune that was given to him by the film’s composer RD Burman. When he gave Burman the song and told him that he written the song on an altogether different meter, Burman fretted over his decision briefly, but came up with a tune to go with Javed sa’ab’s words very quickly.
You can watch the season finale of The Golden Years: 1950-1975 with Javed Akhtar this Sunday at 8 pm to know more about the poet-lyricist’s rich career as songwriter.