I was living in a village which was just below the ancient Mahakali Caves and there was a large track of forest with every kind of tree and even every kind of animals and birds – Ali Peter John
Civilization had still to make it presence felt in this area. I was born in a hut built by my mother in the village which was only sparsely populated by a tribe called the ” waarlis” who lived in houses made of mud, cow dung and dry leaves and the people, male and female wore hardly any clothes.
The first signs of life coming alive was when a group of nuns started building what was to be the Holy Spirit Hospital which was started with only four beds and had one lab technician and two doctors.
Today, incidentally that hospital is one of the best known hospitals not only in Mumbai but anywhere in the country.
It was sometime in the sixties that I as a boy had heard about some educated men who had started living in the Mahakali Caves and among them they told me was a poet whose name was Javed Akhtar.
These men, especially Javed Akhtar walked the roads of Bombay to look for work in Hindi films and went from office to office trying to convince filmmakers that he was a good poet and a dialogue writer, but no one was willing to take him seriously.
After a day-long struggle, he returned to the caves and drake the local hooch by the bottle which was available for only two rupees, if he sometimes did not have and even went to sleep in the company of huge mosquitoes which could kill with their sting but Javed lived on to tell a very successful story, the man who lived in the caves was soon living in a bungalow of his own, had a fleet of the most luxurious cars and got married to a one-time child artist called Honey Irani and they had two children, Zoya, a daughter and Farhan, a son.
Javed had formed a formidable team of writers with Salim Khan and the two went on to the most successful and highly paid writers in the industry ever and Javed divorced Honey to marry the well-known actress, Shabana Azmi.
In the piece below, Shabana remembers those early days when Javed went homeless, hungry and drunk…
It was on October 4, 1964, that Indian cinema’s noted writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar first arrived in the city of dreams, Mumbai.
Shabana Azmi, his wife and cinema stalwart, took to social media to salute her husband and share his remarkable journey.
Sharing Javed Akhtar’s journey with their fans, admirers, and well-wishers, Shabana Azmi recalled how fifty-five years ago, Akhtar arrived in Mumbai when he was all of 19.
With Rs 27 in his pocket and dreams in his eyes, the noted lyricist reached Bombay Central Station.
Azmi recalled how Akhtar slept on the pavements and went without food for days, but let nothing come in the way of his dreams and his belief in himself.
The veteran actress then shared that it’s a story of not giving up to adversity and dignity. I salute him.”
PS – After reading what I myself have written about Javed Akhtar, I feel I have not done justice to the great poet.
I know of a very different and even ugly side of Janaab Javed Akhtar which I will reveal at the right time.